Tag Archives: taxes and spending

The Unaddressed Concerns of Americans, Part 2

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government concludes its examination of the challenges facing every day Americans.

A CNN Report illustrates troubling middle-class statistics from the years 1995—2013. Income remained virtually unchanged in real dollars, while basic costs such as housing rose 13%, tuition skyrocketed 61%, and gas leaped 94%. Investopedia outlines a twenty year comparison between 1994-2014: “Many people feel that, even with full-time work, they simply don’t have the income necessary to live the lives they want. Even when it comes to just the basic essentials such as food, rent, car payments, or tuition fees, it can often seem that a dollar today just doesn’t buy what it should. As it happens, this isn’t just economic paranoia. In fact, the prices for daily goods have increased considerably since 1994, above and beyond what can be accounted for by inflation, giving the dollar much less buying power than it had just 20 years ago.

For seniors, the Obama years were exceptionally difficult. In 2016, the New York Analysis of Policy and Government reported “Since the regular program of Cost of Living increases began in 1975, (prior to that increases were provided by legislation) there has never been a period when such adjustments were lower than they have been under President Obama’s term. Not once had there been a year in which there was no increase at all. Since 2009, two consecutive years, 2009 and 2010, provided no adjustments, and there was also no adjustment in 2015.  Before 2009, the average annual increase was 4.4%; during the Obama presidency, it was 1.7%.”

                                             COLLAPSE OF EDUCATION

America’s educational system is collapsing. As Marc Tucker has written in Education Week,  “the United States, having led the world in educational attainment for more than a century… has, since the 1970s, made no gains at all in either attainment or quality, while close to 30 other countries, some of them abjectly poor in the 1970s, have managed to outperform us on both quality and quantity of education, many by a country mile.  Even more damning, we appear to have lowered our standards for our college students to the standards we used to demand of our high school students and, at the same time, to have more or less destroyed what was once a first-class vocational and technical education system.”

It should be noted that this decline came despite exceedingly generous funding for education, and outrageously high tuition in many colleges.

HEALTH CARE DETERIORATION

The quality of primary health care has deteriorated.  Americans fondly remember the era when they had family physicians who would actually take the time to talk to them. In 2011, Dr. John Geyman  wrote: the continued deterioration of primary care…threatens to break up the very foundation of U.S. health care. Underreported and widely misunderstood, the continued decline of primary care results in uncontrollable inflation of health care costs, decreased access to necessary care, increasing fragmentation and depersonalization of care, and unacceptable quality and outcomes of care. As health care costs spiral out of sight and consume an ever-increasing part of the country’s GDP, this trend, unless reversed, can destabilize and eventually bankrupt our health care system, and perhaps even our country.” The situation Dr. Geyman described has only grown worse, as depersonalization under Obamacare has increased. Among the reasons cited by Dr. Linda Girgis in 2016: “Insurance companies want to quantify patients’ medical condition to determine reimbursements. This is simply a cost-cutting strategy by third parties. The ACA (Affordable Care Act) changed patients into consumers. Patients should control what happens to their own health. But being defined the same as a customer shopping at the local Wal-Mart takes the real person out of the patient…”

These basic concerns of every day Americans, in their finances, safety, education, and health care should be addressed with practicality and outside Washington’s incessant partisanship.

 

The Unaddressed Concerns of Americans

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government examines the challenges facing every day Americans.

Like a marriage heading for divorce, there is a great deal of screaming, and very little actual discussion, in the struggle to improve the everyday life of Americans.

Far too often, the fear of baseless and misleading allegations by a biased media hinders a meaningful dialogue about the very personal issues facing the U.S. population, and inhibits necessary reform. Despite the 24-hour news cycle and endless rhetoric from politicians, core matters remain inadequately examined.

Each election cycle, the two parties promise to address the concerns of “regular Americans.” They promptly abandon that pledge soon after their members take office. Each party does more to play to their power brokers than to respond to the wishes and beliefs of the general population.

Beltway insiders discuss boutique issues and procedural abstractions, concentrating instead on partisan back-biting. Meanwhile, the increasingly dire needs of regular Americans remain ignored.

Here are some key concerns:

TAXES AND SPENDING

An absurd tax system crushes families and small businesses. The Brookings Institute  has noted that “In most Americans’ minds, the annual tax-filing ritual raises two questions: Why is it so complicated? And, what’s the point of all these incomprehensible rules and exceptions?… Not only is our tax system too complicated; it’s also outdated.” A Republican study  notes that “America’s tax code in 2016 imposes burdensome paperwork and compliance costs, delivers special interest subsidies and crony capitalism, penalizes savings and investment, and encourages businesses to move overseas. it is administered by a broken tax collection agency that continues to fail the American people.”

Adding insult to injury, despite the highest corporate taxes among industrialized nations and outrageous deficit spending, the nation’s needs in defense, infrastructure, and other vital areas are not being met.

That failure includes ending poverty. Heritage notes that “In his January 1964 State of the Union address, President Lyndon Johnson proclaimed, ‘This administration today, here and now, declares unconditional war on poverty in America.’ In the 50 years since that time, U.S. taxpayers have spent over $22 trillion on anti-poverty programs. Adjusted for inflation, this spending (which does not include Social Security or Medicare) is three times the cost of all U.S. military wars since the American Revolution. Yet progress against poverty, as measured by the U.S. Census Bureau, has been minimal, and in terms of President Johnson’s main goal of reducing the ‘causes’ rather than the mere ‘consequences’ of poverty, the War on Poverty has failed completely. In fact, a significant portion of the population is now less capable of self-sufficiency than it was when the War on Poverty began.”

PUBLIC SAFETY

 Safety is a major inadequately addressed concern. After falling dramatically for many years, The FBI  reports a 3.9 percent increase in the estimated number of violent crimes. The problem is centered on large cities.  According to a 538  study, “data from individual police departments indicates that murder rose in most of the country’s biggest cities in 2016, in some cases dramatically… The big cities experienced roughly a 11.3 percent increase in murder in 2016… the figures suggest that big cities have seen murder rise by more than a quarter in just two years, likely the biggest two-year increase since 1989 to 1991.”

DESCENT OF THE MIDDLE CLASS

Middle-class Americans have grown tired of the continuous claims during the past eight years that the economy was improving. A 2016 Pew study found “The American middle class is losing ground in metropolitan areas across the country, affecting communities from Boston to Seattle and from Dallas to Milwaukee. From 2000 to 2014 the share of adults living in middle-income households fell in 203 of the 229 U.S. metropolitan areas examined in a new Pew Research Center analysis of government data. The decrease in the middle-class share was often substantial, measuring 6 percentage points or more in 53 metropolitan areas, compared with a 4-point drop nationally…The shrinking of the middle class at the national level, to the point where it may no longer be the economic majority in the U.S., was documented in an earlier analysis by the Pew Research Center. The changes at the metropolitan level…demonstrate that the national trend is the result of widespread declines in localities all around the country.”

The Report concludes tomorrow.