The Boston Globe has a good little article on the Census Bureau's recent data showing that in this great nation of ours 1 in 2 people are now considered poor or low income. That's a lot of pain and disillusionment, my friends.
[Since writing the above early this morning, I was made aware by my cyber friend Paul Sunstone, of the excellent Café of the Cosmic Dance blog, that this 1 in 2 poverty/low income figure is suspect. In the comments section he included a link to the Slate article explaining this. It is possibly 32%, or roughly 1 in 3 Americans. Nevertheless, as I said above when referencing the Boston Globe headline, that's a lot of pain and disillusionment.]
The Boston Globe article also points out the following point with I think is especially salient here:
“Safety net programs such as food stamps and tax credits kept poverty from rising even higher in 2010, but for many low-income families with work-related and medical expenses, they are considered too `rich’ to qualify,’’ said Sheldon Danziger, a University of Michigan public policy professor who specializes in poverty.
I would have added unemployment insurance as well.
Of course cutting essential safety net programs is what the modern Republican party is all about.
Right now there is a fight on Capitol Hill over cutting unemployment benefits. Among the items that are targeted for budget slashing are Social Security and Medicare - again programs designed to literally keep people from dying from want.
The Republican Leaders are on television quite regularly telling us, in effect, "Hell no, we won't place any higher tax burden on the millionaires." Our nation's upper class has become our political untouchables. Our representatives are more than willing to stick it to the poorest Americans - a group which is increasing by leaps and bounds - but unwilling to inconvenience, even a little, those who control most of the nations wealth.
Even our president, who talks big about taxing millionaires, can always be counted on (along with his fellow Democrats in Congress) at the end of the day to capitulate to the Republicans and our nation's favorite special interest group: the wealthy.
It's as if our representatives have all dropped their pants, bent over, and given us citizens the old stink face.
The Pew Research Center has done some polling that was commented on by the Washington Post's Greg Sargent and an article about it can be read about at Think Progress, from which I take the following:
Roughly three-quarters of the public (77%) say that they think there is too much power in the hands of a few rich people and large corporations in the United States. In a 1941 Gallup poll, six-in-ten (60%) Americans expressed this view. About nine-in-ten (91%) Democrats and eight-in-ten (80%) of independents assert that power is too concentrated among the rich and large corporations, but this view is shared by a much narrower majority (53%) of Republicans.
Reflecting a parallel sentiment, 61% of Americans now say the economic system in this country unfairly favors the wealthy and just 36% say the system is generally fair to most Americans. About three-quarters (76%) of Democrats and 61% of independents say the economic system is tilted in favor of the wealthy; a majority (58%) of Republicans say that the system is generally fair to most Americans.
Now that's encouraging. Three out of four of us are tired of coddling the wealthy. More than half of us are willing to admit the obvious, our economic system is stacked in favor of the wealthy.
With numbers like these, why are President Obama and the Democrats not waging all out war on the austerity economics of the Republicans? The answer can only be because they, too, are indebted to the money interests which get them and keep them in office.
Rhetoric aside (which is mostly hot air anyway) what distinguishes The Democrats from the Republicans?
When the Republicans are finished slugging it out and one presidential contender is sent forth to battle President Obama, again ignoring the rhetoric, where will the difference lie?
The sad truth is there is no substantial liberal voice in D.C. looking out for the interests of the poorest and most vulnerable Americans. There is no political left anymore, only a right and far-right.
I submit that President Obama could switch his party affiliation to Republican and no one would be able to tell the difference. This should be obvious even to those who take me to task for criticizing President Obma's spinelessness when they point out that Republicans often end up contradicting themselves and opposing programs they once championed in an effort to bring Obama down.
Of course they do: there's really little of substance for them to attack with President Obama!
Most of my fellow liberals will go out next November and cast a vote for Obama because he has a D beside his name. They will do so because voting Republican is unthinkable. Do what you must. I'm just bemoaning the fact that we no longer have a real choice. That neither President Obama nor anyone else is out there tapping the growing outrage.