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Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on New Census Bureau Report on Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage

Today's release of yet more chilling economic data from the Census Bureau further demonstrates that a generation-long experiment with right-wing economic theories has failed America. The Census report confirms the trend that the Economic Policy Institute shows in The State of Working America 2012, released yesterday—falling incomes and growing inequality.  A generation after Reagan and more than a decade after the Bush tax cuts to the wealthiest among us, the middle class is less and less secure. Median family household income fell again last year and remains 8.9 percent lower than its peak in 1999. The share of income going to middle and lower middle income households continued its fall, while the share of income going to households in the top 5 percent continued to rise. The top 20 percent now get a record high 51.1 percent of America’s income, leaving less for the bottom 80 percent.

Instead of coddling the richest households, America needs to return to the principles of “prosperity economics” that have historically enabled economic security for all and a growing middle class. But Romney and Ryan seek to double down on a set of policies that clearly tilt income growth to the top, while hollowing out the middle.  And, as the Ryan budget makes clear, the only way to pay for those tax cuts for millionaires is for the government to turn its back on the middle class.

We need family-sustaining jobs, more investments in our future, and fair taxation. President Obama is calling for the kinds of policies that will move us toward returning people to the work they need and continue to heal our fractured economy.

In addition, the share of Americans without health insurance coverage, which rose dramatically during the lead-up to the Great Recession (reaching 16.1 percent in 2009), declined to 15.7% not covered, due to the higher enrollments in Medicare and Medicaid—programs that the Romney-Ryan budget targets for immediate and draconian cuts. The Romney-Ryan plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act would mean the immediate end of the provision enabling young adults to benefit from their parents’ coverage, further exacerbating a Romney-Ryan uninsured crisis.

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