Is the American economy improving or declining?
Your answer likely depends on who you are or, better, how wealthy you are.
Amid reports of a growing Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the government also reported recently that the national median income had dropped for the fourth year in a row.
What does that mean?
Simply put, those at the bottom of our economy are not benefiting from its growth. Whatever recovery may be going on is not reaching low-income Americans.
If you believe in supply-side economics and Santa Clause, you may also still think that "trickle down" policy benefits the poor.
As our economy grows, a disproportionate share of the benefit rushes to the top, where the wealth resides. And, the rate of that upward flow is growing.
In terms of real dollars and wages, working Americans who are classified as "low-income" are falling further behind each year.
Now comes 2006!
A New Year, a time of new beginnings.
Hang on. Keep your champagne on the ice.
During 2006, the nation's wealthiest citizens will see their taxes decline again, and this before the Congress has decided on the beefed-up investor cuts they have been debating.
If you earn over $200,000, you will be in line for the new cuts. You can claim larger write-offs for your spouse, your children and even mortgage interest on your vacation home.
Bet that helps!
Enacted in 2001, but delayed because of their anticipated expense to the nation, these cuts are set to kick in and they will cost us $27 billion over the short run before mushrooming to a cost of $146 billion by 2019. By that end date most of the benefit will go to people who earn more than $1 million annually.
Now, there is a real stroke for equity!
So, here's the picture of our New Year:
- Our national debt and our budget deficit are both growing at a staggering pace--the budget surplus of the Clinton years is long gone.
- We are at war in Afghanistan and Iraq--cost there is well over $1,000 per second!
- Congress voted before its break to slash programs aimed to assist low-income working Americans.
What does this mean to me? Why do I care?
Inner city families who need health care, education, housing, child care, employment training and transportation--that's why I care.
If my faith tells me anything, it tells me that I better care.
It is not theoretical here.
It is way real.
I'm praying for change in the New Year.
This same old, same old is killing some of my good friends and their children.