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the point of all these incomprehensible rules and exceptions?… Not only is our tax system too complicated; it’s also outdated.”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.