For over half a century, the American middle class has been the bulwark of prosperity and stability not only in the Unites States, but throughout the planet as well. It is an entity that has become increasingly endangered over the past five years.
When Mr. Obama took office, the real median household income was $53,760. It has since dropped to $53,385.
Middle income families are under siege from rising prices for the staples of life, including food, energy, shelter and medical care, needs which must be paid for with declining income and despite high taxes. They are also facing assaults on the non- materialistic front as well.
Red meat, pork, fruit and dairy prices have increased substantially from last year. Center cuts of beef with bones have jumped 18.9%, pork chops 18.8%, and numerous other pork choices by a startling 23.4%. Bacon is up 14.5%. Romaine lettuce has risen 25.7%. Dairy prices have jumped an average of 4.7%.
Increased prices for homes and rates for mortgages, as well as higher rental charges, have produced a significant squeeze to families, who also must contend with student debt reflecting the enormous and unjustified cost increases in college tuition over the past two decades.
A Forbes magazine study notes that “Health insurance premiums are showing the sharpest increases perhaps ever… The average increases are in excess of 11% in the small group market and 12% in the individual market. Some state show increases 10 to 50 times that amount. The analysts conclude that the ‘increases are largely due to changes under the ACA [Obamacare.]”
Gas prices constitute a major challenge for American families, jumping from an average of 2.42 in 2009 to 3.52 currently. Despite high energy costs throughout the nation, the White House continues to roadblock the exploitation of energy resources on federal lands.
The most obvious indicator of middle class status, home ownership, has recently fallen 4.9%, according to the Wall Street Journal. The problems aren’t restricted to ownership. A U.S. News review reported that the National Low Income Housing Coalition found that affordable rent is becoming increasingly difficult to find.
The dwindling American middle class has lost its distinction of being the world’s most affluent, according to a New York Times report. One statistic hasn’t changed, however; despite the vast sums spent both on Mr. Obama’s “stimulus” and his mammoth increases in welfare-type programs, the Washington Times notes that the poverty rate has remained at 15% for three consecutive years. According to the Russell Sage Foundation the median wealth of American households has dropped from $87,992 in 2003 to $56,335 in 2013.
These problems didn’t arise by accident. Although a portion of the increases in food may be attributable to weather fluctuations, (another portion is attributable to increasingly inane EPA policies) poor policy choices must bear the burden of the blame.
The White House has steadfastly refused to allow access to the riches of oil and gas on its vast land holdings, resulting in higher energy prices and fewer jobs.
America has the world’s highest corporate tax rate, deeply affecting employment. The increase in welfare-type benefits, especially those which can be accessed by relatively young, healthy individuals, has reduced the labor force participation to its lowest point in 36 years and has placed an enormous burden on working, middle income families who now pay taxes which are mostly spent on entitlement programs.
High taxes and EPA regulations combined with reduced financial support for the military has slashed many middle-class industrial jobs.
The bad news isn’t only on the economic front. Middle-class values have been consistently mocked by academia, Hollywood, and the progressives. The very concept of family self-sufficiency has been replaced with the leftist mantra of “it takes a village to raise a child.”
The stability and patriotism of middle class families is the bedrock upon which rests American success. Its diminishment will indeed, in President Obama’s words, “profoundly transform” the nation, and not for the better.