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.