WhenÃs the last time you saw a guy roll up in a brand new 2003 Honda Accord, get out of the car, lock his doors with a keyless entry thing and then go out on the corner and wave a Ã¬Will Work for FoodÃ® sign?
ItÃs just as difficult to understand President George W. BushÃs minimalist response to the fact that, for the first time in eight years, poverty is up and pay is down.
Ã¬When you combine the productivity of the American people with low interest rates and low inflation, those are the ingredients for growth.Ã®
OK, but itÃs difficult for a family of four making $18,104 (the poverty level for a four-person family) to be thinking about how the Federal Reserve has cut the interest rate 11 times last year, or how it presently stands at 1.75 percent. Why? Because they donÃt have any money.
There are more important things than pulling low interest rate loans from banks, namely putting food on the table, lighting your home, putting clothes on your back, getting to and from work, etc.
The poverty rate, presently, is at 11.7 percent. While that is only up 0.4 percent from last year, it adds up to about million new people who are living below the poverty line. Children under 18 are the most affected group, with one third of all people living under the poverty level coming from this demographic.
The median household income fell to $42,228, a loss of $900. This is the second year in a row that it has declined. ItÃs difficult to deny that one reason for the decline is BushÃs gargantuan, rich manÃs tax cut. Remember, the tax cut that gave the richest 1 percent a total of 43 percent of the refunded taxes and gave you and me a couple hundred bucks?
That money could have been used to implement programs to boost the median household income, as well as to pull people from, rather than toss people into, poverty. Programs to ease the burden on hundreds of thousands who were laid off after the Sept. 11 attacks, or programs to rejuvenate small businesses, which were declining even before the tragedy, could have been, but were not, proposed.
Instead, the then-Republican controlled Congress squandered a great chance and turned the biggest budget surplus in recent history into a $200-billion deficit.
While itÃs no secret that IÃm more left than right leaning, it would be incorrect to stand side-by-side with Congressional Democrats in saying that the economic slowdown falls solely in the hands of Bush and Co.
To be honest, the median household income fell during the Clinton years, and experts say that an economic downturn was to be expected after the 1990s, a decade ripe with unparalleled and robust growth.
Regardless, Bush and Co. are definitely not giving domestic problems the attention they deserve. TheyÃre too busy traipsing around the world, dropping bombs or dropping hints that they will be soon.
Perhaps Bush should hearken back to his election, when he was lauded by all as a Ã¬compassionate conservative.Ã® He wants to drag us into a unilateral war, while ignoring the fact that 32.9 million people in his own country are below the poverty line.
Sounds like plain old conservativism to me.
Joe Roma is a senior majoring in political firstname.lastname@example.org