‘The Arizona Comeback,’ Guv? Not so much


Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

Last week the media villagers held their annual confab to give each other awards for the excellent work they are doing (cough!), and Governor Jan Brewer showed up to work the refs. This is how the Sierra Vista Herald described it. Our View: The governor's welcome words:

The annual National Newspaper Convention took place last week at the
Grand Resort in Phoenix, bringing industry professionals from across the
country to Arizona.

Brewer touted the state’s financial comeback, pointing to dramatic
budget cuts, fewer regulations, and a rebounding economy as the key
components of a plan that turned a $3 billion state budget deficit into a
nearly $1 billion surplus.

You may recall that after President Obama's recent visit to the Phoenix area in August, Governor Brewer, while offering a gracious greeeting at the airport, later issued a Statement from Governor Jan Brewer on President Obama's Visit to Arizona (.pdf) in which she employed this bit of hyperbole: "The Arizona Comeback is in full-swing, and this was the President’s opportunity to witness firsthand a true economic success story."

Really? Perhaps the governor failed to see this recent eye-popping headline: AZ Among Highest Poverty Levels in Nation, Census Figures Say. This is "The Arizona Comeback"?

New figures from the Census Bureau show Arizona has some of the highest rates of poverty in the country.

Nineteen percent of the state's residents were 100 percent below the poverty line in 2012.

That was the fifth-highest rate behind only Mississippi, Louisiana, New Mexico and Arkansas.

Nearly 23 percent of Arizona's population was 125 percent below the poverty line, which is eight-highest among all states.

The figures released Tuesday show the national average is 15 percent
for 100 percent below the poverty line and 20 percent for 125 percent
below the poverty line.

Only four more states and we can be number one! 

There was also this report this week, Employment gap between rich, poor widest on record:

The gap in employment rates between America's highest- and
lowest-income families has stretched to its widest levels since
officials began tracking the data a decade ago, according to an analysis
of government data conducted for The Associated Press.

Rates of
unemployment for the lowest-income families – those earning less than
$20,000 – have topped 21 percent, nearly matching the rate for all
workers during the 1930s Great Depression.

U.S. households with
income of more than $150,000 a year have an unemployment rate of 3.2
percent, a level traditionally defined as full employment. At the same
time, middle-income workers are increasingly pushed into lower-wage
jobs. Many of them in turn are displacing lower-skilled, low-income
workers, who become unemployed or are forced to work fewer hours, the
analysis shows.

"This was no `equal opportunity' recession or an
`equal opportunity' recovery," said Andrew Sum, director of the Center
for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University. "One part of
America is in depression, while another part is in full employment."

The corporate executives and lobbyists with whom Governor Brewer spends all of her time are certainly doing well, but The typical American family makes less than it did in 1989:

In 1989, the median American household made $51,681 in current
dollars (the 2012 number, again, was $51,017). That means that 24 years
ago, a middle class American family was making more than the a middle
class family was making one year ago.

This isn't a lost decade for economic gains for Americans. It is a lost generation.

This week, Governor Brewer's Tea-Publican friends in Congress (Reps. Schweikert, Salmon, Gosar, and Franks) will vote on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) aka food stamps appropriation bill, which will cut $40 billion from the program because FAUX News and the conservative media entertainment complex have engaged in a campaign of demonizing the working poor as lazy slackers (most people on food stamps are children, the elderly, or disabled). "A little hunger might be just the motivation these lazy slackers need to work!" Yeah, about that. 4 million more people would be poor if it weren’t for food stamps:

The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities did some additional number-crunching
on population growth, and found that the income from the Supplemental
Nutrition Assistance Program–commonly known as food stamps–pushed 4
million people above the official poverty line in 2012.

* * *

That doesn't mean they're not still poor, of course, but it can sure help to not have to worry about going hungry all the time.

It's a particularly important statistic, given that House Republicans are moving a bill that would cut funding for the SNAP program by $39 billion over a 10-year period.

A wily move by our Tea-Publican congressmen to move Arizona up from the fifth highest rate of poverty in the nation to maybe giving Mississippi a run for its money for the top spot!

By the way, that budget surplus Brewer is touting is illusory. The package of tax cuts enacted for businesses that begin to phase in this fiscal year will begin to erode that "surplus" quickly, as the tax cuts were meant to maintain a structural revenue deficit so that Tea-Publicans can make the argument that we need to cut the state budget even more.

If the Tea-Publicans in Congress continue to pull money out of the economy with their "austerity" automatic sequester cuts, or worse, blow up the economy by defaulting on the federal debt ceiling, the economic downturn which will result will quickly dissipate Governor Brewer's illusory budget "surplus."

UPDATE: See what I mean, Guv? State jobless rate jumps sharply, now a full point above national rate: Arizona's unemployment rate rises to 8.3 percent, even as joblessness nationally dropped.

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AZ BlueMeanie
The Blue Meanie is an Arizona citizen who wishes, for professional reasons, to remain anonymous when blogging about politics. Armed with a deep knowledge of the law, politics and public policy, as well as pen filled with all the colors stolen from Pepperland, the Blue Meanie’s mission is to pursue and prosecute the hypocrites, liars, and fools of politics and the media – which, in practical terms, is nearly all of them. Don’t even try to unmask him or he’ll seal you in a music-proof bubble and rendition you to Pepperland for a good face-stomping. Read blog posts by the infamous and prolific AZ Blue Meanie here.


  1. Income Used to Compute Poverty Status (Money Income)

    •Noncash benefits (such as food stamps and housing subsidies) do not count.

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