This editorial is from the New York Times...
Life in the Bottom 80 Percent
Economic growth isn't what it used to be. In 2004, the economy grew a solid 3.8 percent. But for the fifth straight year, median household income was basically flat, at $44,389 in 2004, the Census Bureau said Tuesday. That's the longest stretch of income stagnation on record.
Economic growth was also no elixir for the 800,000 additional workers who found themselves without health insurance in 2004. Were it not for increased coverage by military insurance and Medicaid, the ranks of the uninsured - now 45.8 million - would be even larger. And 1.1 million more people fell into poverty in 2004, bringing the ranks of poor Americans to 37 million.
When President Bush talks about the economy, he invariably boasts about good economic growth. But he doesn't acknowledge what is apparent from the census figures: as the very rich get even richer, their gains can mask the stagnation and deterioration at less lofty income levels.
This week's census report showed that income inequality was near all-time highs in 2004, with 50.1 percent of income going to the top 20 percent of households. And additional census data obtained by the Economic Policy Institute show that only the top 5 percent of households experienced real income gains in 2004. Incomes for the other 95 percent of households were flat or falling.
Income inequality is an economic and social ill, but the administration and the Congressional majority don't seem to recognize that. When Congress returns from its monthlong summer vacation next week, two of the leadership's top priorities include renewing the push to repeal the estate tax, which affects only the wealthiest of families, and extending the tax cuts for investment income, which flow largely to the richest Americans. At the other end of the spectrum, lawmakers have stubbornly refused to raise the minimum wage: $5.15 an hour since 1997. They will also be taking up proposals for deep budget cuts in programs that ameliorate income inequality, like Medicaid, food stamps and federal student loans.
They should be ashamed of themselves.