Tag Archives: income inequality

‘Economically forgotten’ have much in common with America’s poor

Axios.com has an Exclusive: 40% in U.S. can’t afford middle-class basics:

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Data: United Way; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios

At a time of rock-bottom joblessness, high corporate profits and a booming stock market, more than 40% of U.S. households cannot pay the basics of a middle-class lifestyle — rent, transportation, child care and a cellphone, according to a new study.

Quick take: The study, conducted by United Way, found a wide band of working U.S. households that live above the official poverty line, but below the cost of paying ordinary expenses. Based on 2016 data, there were 34.7 million households in that group — double the 16.1 million that are in actual poverty, project director Stephanie Hoopes tells Axios.

Why it matters: For two years, U.S. politics has been dominated by the anger and resentment of a self-identified “forgotten” class, some left behind economically and others threatened by changes to their way of life.

  • The United Way study, to be released publicly Thursday, suggests that the economically forgotten are a far bigger group than many studies assume — and, according to Hoopes, appear to be growing larger despite the improving economy.
  • The study dubs that middle group between poverty and the middle class “ALICE” families, for Asset-limited, Income-constrained, Employed. (The map above, by Axios’ Chris Canipe, depicts that state-by-state population in dark brown.)
  • These are households with adults who are working but earning too little — 66% of Americans earn less than $20 an hour, or about $40,000 a year if they are working full time.

When you add them together with the people living in poverty, you get 51 million households. “It’s a magnitude of financial hardship that we haven’t been able to capture until now,” Hoopes said.

By the numbers: Using 2016 data collected from the states, the study found that North Dakota has the smallest population between poverty and middle class, at 32% of its households. The largest is 49%, in California, Hawaii and New Mexico. “49% is shocking. 32% is also shocking,” Hoopes said.

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Poor People’s Campaign kickoff on Monday

Here is something you can persuade your local church congregation into supporting and participating in. After all, WWJD?

On Monday, thousands of low-wage workers, clergy and activists will gather at the U.S. Capitol and more than 30 statehouses across the country to kick off the Poor People’s Campaign (organization website), a civil disobedience movement that aims to push the issue of poverty to the top of the national political agenda. Here’s how the Poor People’s Campaign aims to finish what MLK started:

Inspired by a 1968 initiative planned by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., the multiracial coalition will involve 40 days of protests and direct actions to highlight the issues of systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, the war economy and militarism. Organizers are pitching it as one of the largest waves of nonviolent direct action in U.S. history.

About 41 million Americans live below the official poverty line, the majority of them white. Organizers with the Poor People’s Campaign say official measures of poverty are too narrow, and the number of poor and low-income Americans expands to 140 million if food, clothing, housing and utility costs, as well as government assistance programs, are taken into account.

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VP Mike Pence in Phoenix today on GOP Tax Scam Tour

A”whiter shade of pale” Mike Pence is in Phoenix today for the GOP tax scam tour. Vice President Mike Pence visits Phoenix today on tax policy tour:

Pence will arrive shortly before noon Tuesday before meeting with Republican Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey.

Arizona Republican U.S. Rep. Andy Biggs and local business people are expected at the “Tax Cuts to Put America First” gathering at a Tempe hotel.

Maybe an enterprising reporter will ask Pence about Senator Marco Rubio’s view of the GOP tax scam. The Economist reports, Marco Rubio offers his Trump-crazed party a glint of hope (snippet):

“There is still a lot of thinking on the right that if big corporations are happy, they’re going to take the money they’re saving and reinvest it in American workers,” he says. “In fact they bought back shares, a few gave out bonuses; there’s no evidence whatsoever that the money’s been massively poured back into the American worker.”

Arguing that the tax bill’s corporate tax rate cuts aren’t benefiting the average worker is exactly the opposite of what VP Pence will say today about the GOP’s only major legislative “accomplishment.”

For once, “Little Marco,” as Pence’s boss denigrates him, is right. The New York Times reported this week, Investment Boom From Trump’s Tax Cut Has Yet to Appear:

Republicans sold the 2017 tax law as “rocket fuel” for American investment and growth, saying that corporations — flush with cash from lower tax rates — would channel money back into the economy by building factories and offices and investing in equipment, which would help companies grow and provide winnings for workers.

Economists say that may happen as companies readjust their spending plans over the coming months to take advantage of the new law, and they note that it is too early to tell how much the tax law will spread into the broader economy.

But, so far, hard evidence of such an acceleration has yet to appear in economic data, which show more of a steady investment roll than a rapid escalation. And while there are pockets of the economy where investment is picking up — among large tech companies and in shale oil business, for example — corporate spending on buying back stock is increasing at a far faster clip, prompting a debate about whether the law is returning money to the overall economy or just rewarding a small segment of investors.

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March jobs report well below expectations, trade war trouble on the horizon

Economic forecasters expected another strong jobs report today. That didn’t happen. Steve Benen has the March jobs report. Following February’s highs, job growth slowed down in March:

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today that the economy added 103,000 jobs in March, while the unemployment rate held steady at 4.1% for the sixth consecutive month. In both cases, forecasts projected better progress, making today’s report disappointing.

Making matters slightly worse, the revisions for the two previous months – January and February – point to a combined loss of 50,000 jobs as compared to previous BLS reports.

MarchJobs
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Authoritarian Tea-Publicans reject the constitutional right of Arizona citizens to enact a minimum wage law

Authoritarian Tea-Publicans in the Arizona legislature reject the constitutional right of Arizona citizens to make their own laws by citizens initiative. Like Louis XIV of France, they believe “I am the state,” and that you are the unwashed rabble who are mere subjects who should bow down before them.

They are also the tools of corporate plutocrats, i.e., the Arizona chambers of commerce organizations, and in particular, the Arizona Restaurant Association, the most vocal opponent of the minimum wage and paid time off leave. The ARA would bring back indentured servitude if not for the Thirteenth Amendment.

In 2016, Arizona voters overwhelmingly approved a Minimum Wage Initiative that also allowed local governments to enact paid time off leave policies. The chamber of commerce organizations and their lickspittle Tea-Publican servants in the Arizona legislature will not stand for this. They want to stomp out this citizens-created law, despite the Voter Protection Act.

Two Tea-Publican members of the Arizona Legislature think voters should reconsider parts of the minimum-wage ballot measure they passed overwhelmingly less than two years ago. Proposals to roll back Arizona’s minimum-wage ballot measure protested at Capitol:

A pair of resolutions are moving through the Legislature that together would make major changes, including: freezing the minimum wage and stopping further scheduled increases to it; eliminating mandatory sick leave; repealing provisions regarding employer retaliation; and prohibiting cities from having a higher minimum wage than is set by the state.

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Working Americans have not noticed the effect of the GOP tax cut on their personal finances

Erica Werner of the Washington Post today asserts As GOP tax cuts take hold, Democrats struggle for line of attack based upon conservative Democrat Joe Donnelly’s reelection campaign in the deep red state of Indiana:

The new law is rising in popularity as businesses in Indiana and elsewhere trumpet bonuses and bigger paychecks. And while Donnelly and fellow Democrats struggle to craft a consistent attack on the law, Republicans — boosted by outside spending from groups backed by the billionaire Koch brothers and others — are united in touting the tax cuts and slamming moderate Democrats who voted against them.

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Americans have just started to see the tax cut show up in their paychecks this month, and along with those boosts in pay have come a spate of recent polls that show public opinion turning in favor of the tax legislation — leaving Democrats the unenviable task of trying to convince voters that a law increasing their paychecks now will be bad for the country later.

Werner is correct about the Koch brothers multi-million dollar GOPropaganda campaign to sell the GOP tax bill, and the resulting bump in polling (mostly from GOP-leaning voters responding to messaging for GOP tribalism). But there is contradictory evidence on any actual economic benefits of the GOP tax bill being noticeable in paychecks.

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