The Destruction of Citizen Wealth

Citizen Wealth Financial Justice

New Orleans    It is hard to miss the markers of the precipitous slide of US citizen wealth flowing from the Great Recession.  New figures from the Census Bureau indicate another dive for the 4th straight year (obviously starting in 2007 in the Bush era).  We now stand a hair above $50,000 in median household income.  That’s not bad money, but it is now almost 9% below the high water mark at the end of the Clinton 2nd term at close to $56000 in 1999.

It’s a butt kicking for African-American families (now at $32,366) and Hispanic families ($38,624).  With the housing crisis still largely unabated measurements of wealth (real assets), as opposed to household income (just “maintaining”) will be hammered even more.

The Wall Street Journal had two interesting charts.  One showed that there has still been an uptick over the last several years in the percentage of people living in poverty.  In 2011 the poverty threshold for a family of four was $23,021.  The percentage of people in poverty is now 15%!

The other chart looked at how bad it would be if the Republicans had their way and eviscerated the remaining pieces of what used to be called the “safety net.”

Persons below 100% of Poverty Level 2011  46,247,000

If food stamps counted as income  42,347,000

If earned income credit counted as income   40,547,000

Without unemployment benefits  48,547,000

Without Social Security income    67,647,000

Looked at another way, 20 million people would be destitute without Social Security and 8 million would be so if business succeeded in denying unemployment benefits.  In fact the upticks in poverty rates point directly at improvements coming in the wake of the Affordable Health Care Act, the dreaded Obama-Care of the right.

Obama with a housing policy that worked to push back foreclosures and kept people above water would have seen an uptick in household income.  Maybe that’s a lesson for his 2nd term, but as a lesson from a Romney 1st term should be to head for the hills and hope you can live off the land.