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Obama’s Big Squeeze On The Middle Class

- May 7, 2012

Obama Promised To Help The Middle Class But He Has Left Americans With Less In Their Pockets And A Darker Future Ahead

Obama On Saturday: “We Measure Prosperity Not Just By Our Total GDP, Not Just By How Many Billionaires We Produce, But How Well The Typical Family Is Doing, Whether They Can Go As Far As Their Dreams And Hard Work Will Take Them.” (President Barack Obama, Remarks At A Campaign Event, Columbus, OH, 5/5/12)

OBAMA CAMPAIGNED ON CREATING A STRONG MIDDLE CLASS BUT HIS FAILURES ARE LEAVING WORKING FAMILIES BEHIND

2008: Candidate Obama Said His Economic Plans Would Build “A Strong Middle Class” Because “Building A Strong Middle Class Is The Key To Making Our Economy Strong.” OBAMA: “Now, people have asked whether the size of the plan that Congress is voting on, together with the weakening economy, means that the next President will have to scale back his agenda and some of his proposals. And there's no doubt that some programs or policies that I've proposed on the campaign trail may require more time to achieve. But I reject the idea that you can't build a strong middle class at a time when our economy is weak. I believe that building a strong middle class is the key to making our economy strong. And that's what we'll do when I'm President of the United States.” (Sen. Barack Obama, Remarks, Grand Rapids, MI, 10/2/08) 

NOW: The Middle Class Is Shrinking And Millions Of Families Are Hurting. “The latest census data depict a middle class that's shrinking as unemployment stays high and the government's safety net frays. The new numbers follow years of stagnating wages for the middle class that have hurt millions of workers and families.” (Hope Yen, “Census Shows 1 In 2 People Are Poor Or Low-Income,” The Associated Press, 12/15/11)

  • “Many Of The 'New Poor' Are The Former Middle Class.” “‘Many of the 'new poor' are the former middle class,’ broadcaster Tavis Smiley, who requested the study, said in a statement.” (Mary Wisniewski, “Poverty To Keep Rising Due To Slow Recovery: Study,” Reuters, 1/11/12)

Only 19 Percent Of Voters Believe Obama’s Policies Favor The Middle Class. “Just 19 percent of registered voters believe the president’s policies favor the middle class, compared with 25 percent who say they benefit the rich, according to a CBS-New York Times poll conducted Feb. 8-13..” (Mike Dorning, “Obama Fails To Stem Middle-Class Slide He Blamed On Bush,” Bloomberg, 4/30/12)

97.3 Million Americans Now Qualify As Low-Income And Another 49.1 Million Are In Poverty; 48 Percent Of The Population. “About 97.3 million Americans fall into a low-income category, commonly defined as those earning between 100 and 199 percent of the poverty level, based on a new supplemental measure by the Census Bureau that is designed to provide a fuller picture of poverty. Together with the 49.1 million who fall below the poverty line and are counted as poor, they number 146.4 million, or 48 percent of the U.S. population. That's up by 4 million from 2009, the earliest numbers for the newly developed poverty measure.” (Hope Yen, “Census Shows 1 In 2 People Are Poor Or Low-Income,” The Associated Press, 12/15/11)

The Job Market Is Losing Momentum, The Housing Market Remains Fragile, And The Factory Sector Is Struggling. “New data Thursday provided fresh evidence that the job market is losing the momentum it built earlier this year, which could pressure fragile housing markets that have been showing signs of life. Separate reports this week suggested that the factory sector, a source of strength in the recovery, now is being hurt by weak growth overseas.” (Ben Casselman and Nick Timiraos, “Economic Reports Fan Fears,” The Wall Street Journal, 4/19/12)

  • “Long-Term Unemployment Has Devastated The Ranks Of The Middle Class.” “Long-term unemployment has devastated the ranks of the middle class, with many people losing their homes and forced to turn to food banks and government aid after they run through their savings. It takes nearly 41 weeks, on average, for the jobless to find new work. Also, the steep decline in home values has hurt many in the middle class.” (Tami Luhby, “Middle Class Dropouts,” CNN Money, 1/11/12)

OBAMA ESTABLISHED A MIDDLE CLASS TASK FORCE TO “PROTECT” MIDDLE CLASS INCOMES BUT AS PRESIDENT WORKING FAMILIES ARE MAKING LESS AND LESS

2009: After Taking Office, Obama Established A Middle Class Task Force To, Among Other Things, “Protect Incomes Of Middle-Class Working Families.” “The functions of the Task Force are advisory only and shall include, but shall not be limited to, producing a detailed set of recommendations to: (a) expand education and lifelong training opportunities; (b) improve work and family balance; (c) restore labor standards, including workplace safety; (d) protect the incomes of middle-class working families; and (e) protect retirement security.” (President Barack Obama, Memorandum On The White House Task Force On Middle-Class Working Families, Washington, D.C., 1/30/09)

NOW: According To Sentier Research, “Real Median Household Income In March Was Down $4,300 Since Obama Took Office In January 2009 …” “As a candidate in 2008, Obama blamed the reversals largely on the policies of Bush and other Republicans. He cited census figures showing that median income for working-age households -- those headed by someone younger than 65 -- had dropped more than $2,000 after inflation during the first seven years of Bush’s time in office. Yet real median household income in March was down $4,300 since Obama took office in January 2009 and down $2,900 since the June 2009 start of the economic recovery, according to an analysis of census data by Sentier Research, an economic- consulting firm in Annapolis, Maryland.” (Mike Dorning, “Obama Fails To Stem Middle-Class Slide He Blamed On Bush,” Bloomberg, 4/30/12)

  • “A President Who Attacked Bush’s Policies For Favoring The Rich Has Overseen A Recovery In Which The Wealthiest 1 Percent Captured 93 Percent Of Per-Capita Real Income Gains In 2010.” “A president who attacked Bush’s policies for favoring the rich has overseen a recovery in which the wealthiest 1 percent captured 93 percent of per-capita real income gains in 2010, according to an analysis of tax data by Emmanuel Saez, an economics professor at the University of California at Berkeley. On average, families in the top 1 percent saw their inflation-adjusted incomes rise by $105,637 that year from 2009, according to Saez.” (Mike Dorning, “Obama Fails To Stem Middle-Class Slide He Blamed On Bush,” Bloomberg, 4/30/12)

Young Adults’ Earning Potential Could Be Hurt For Years To Come, Making Downward Mobility More Likely. “Young adults may find it particularly difficult to hold onto their parents' middle class status. That's because they are having a much harder time landing jobs, particularly well-paying positions in their field. The unemployment rate for 20- to 24-year-olds was 14.4% in December, compared to the national 8.5% rate.  This could hurt their earning potential for decades to come, which has earned them the nickname ‘The Lost Generation.’” (Tami Luhby, “Middle Class Dropouts,” CNN Money, 1/11/12)

  • “Entering Your Career In A Down Economy Has Lifelong Ramifications.” “‘Entering your career in a down economy has lifelong ramifications,’ said Scott Winship, economic studies fellow at Brookings Institution.” (Tami Luhby, “Middle Class Dropouts,” CNN Money, 1/11/12)

OBAMA PROMISED TO LIFT TWO MILLION AMERICANS OUT OF POVERTY AND INTO THE MIDDLE CLASS BUT UNDER OBAMA SIX MILLION HAVE FALLEN INTO POVERTY

2009: President Obama Said That The Stimulus Bill Would Lift Two Million Americans Out Of Poverty. OBAMA: “And it's a plan that rewards responsibility, lifting 2 million Americans from poverty by ensuring that anyone who works hard does not have to raise a child below the poverty line. So as a whole, this plan will help poor and working Americans pull themselves into the middle class in a way we haven't seen in nearly 50 years.” (President Barack Obama, Remarks At The Signing Of The American Recovery And Reinvestment Act, Denver, CO, 2/17/09)

NOW: Since President Obama Took Office, 6.3 Million Americans Have Fallen Into Poverty. (Press Release, “Income, Poverty And Health Insurance Coverage In The United States: 2010,” U.S. Census Bureau, 9/13/11)

  • In 2010, The Number Of Americans Living In Poverty (46.2 Million) Reached The Highest Level On Record. (Press Release, “Income, Poverty And Health Insurance Coverage In The United States: 2010,” U.S. Census Bureau, 9/13/11)
  • Poverty Is Expected To Have Increased In 2011. “The study uses 2010 U.S. Census Bureau data released last year plus other government numbers. Poverty was expected to increase again in 2011 due to the slow pace of economic recovery, the high rate of unemployment, and the long duration of spells of unemployment, the study found. The study was produced out of the university's School of Public and Environmental Affairs.” (Mary Wisniewski, “Poverty To Keep Rising Due To Slow Recovery: Study,” Reuters, 1/11/12)

45 Million People Received Food Stamps In 2011, A 70 Percent Increase From 2007, And Will Continue Growing Until 2014. “The Congressional Budget Office said Thursday that 45 million people in 2011 received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, a 70% increase from 2007. It  said the number of people receiving the benefits, commonly known as food stamps, would continue growing until 2014.” (Damian Paletta, “Food Stamp Rolls To Grow Through 2014,” The Wall Street Journal’s “Real Time Economics,” 4/19/12)

OBAMA SAID THAT THE KEY TO REBUILDING THE MIDDLE CLASS WAS “GOOD, SUSTAINABLE JOBS” BUT OBAMA ISN’T DELIVERING THEM

2010: OBAMA: “Creating Good, Sustainable Jobs Is The Single Most Important Thing We Can Do To Rebuild The Middle Class, And I Won't Rest Until We're Doing Just That.” (President Barack Obama, Remarks At A Middle Class Task Force Meeting, Washington, D.C., 1/25/10)

  • Obama: “It Matters If We Are Building A Broad-Based Middle Class.” OBAMA: “And the question is going to be, in this election, whether or not we are able to reclaim that vital center of American thought and American values that says, ‘We're all in this together’ and, you know, it matters if we are building a broad-based middle class, where everybody is able to do their part and everybody's able to succeed.” (CBS’s, “60 Minutes,” 12/11/11)

NOW: Obama Has Failed To Produce The Middle Class Jobs He Campaigned On Creating. “Barack Obama campaigned four years ago assailing President George W. Bush for wage losses suffered by the middle class. More than three years into Obama’s own presidency, those declines have only deepened. The rebound from the worst recession since the 1930s has generated relatively few of the moderately skilled jobs that once supported the middle class, tightening the financial squeeze on many Americans, even those who are employed.” (Mike Dorning, “Obama Fails To Stem Middle-Class Slide He Blamed On Bush,” Bloomberg, 4/30/12)

“More Than Half Of All The Jobs Created During The Past Six Months Have Been In Low-Paying Industries Such As Retail And Temporary Help, Joseph Brusuelas, Senior Economist At Bloomberg LP, Noted On Thursday.” (Mark Gongloff and Bonnie Kavoussi, “Job Market Recovery Led By Low-Wage Sectors,” The Huffington Post, 4/5/12)

  • “The Jobs Are Lousy, And There Aren't Enough Of Them.” “The job market these days is sort of like that old Catskills joke: The food is terrible, and the portions are so small. The jobs are lousy, and there aren't enough of them.” (Mark Gongloff and Bonnie Kavoussi, “Job Market Recovery Led By Low-Wage Sectors,” The Huffington Post, 4/5/12)

“The Problem Is That Most Of The Decent Job Growth We've Seen In The Past Few Months Has Been In Sectors That Do Not Pay All That Well.” “The problem is that most of the decent job growth we've seen in the past few months has been in sectors that do not pay all that well. The economy has created 1.2 million nonfarm payroll jobs in the past six months -- great news. But nearly 668,000 of those jobs -- more than 55 percent -- have been created in the retail, temp, ‘health care and social assistance’ and ‘leisure and hospitality’ sectors, notes Brusuelas.” (Mark Gongloff and Bonnie Kavoussi, “Job Market Recovery Led By Low-Wage Sectors,” The Huffington Post, 4/5/12)

  • Former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich: “Entry-Level Manufacturing Jobs Are Paying Half Of What Entry-Level Manufacturing Jobs Paid Six Years Ago.” “Most of the new jobs being created are in the lower-wage sectors of the economy - hospital orderlies and nursing aides, secretaries and temporary workers, retail and restaurant. Meanwhile, millions of Americans remain working only because they've agreed to cuts in wages and benefits. Others are settling for jobs that pay less than the jobs they've lost. Entry-level manufacturing jobs are paying half of what entry-level manufacturing jobs paid six years ago.” (Robert Reich, Op-Ed, “Middle Class Losing Ground Even Amidst Job Growth,” The San Francisco Chronicle, 2/12/12)

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