Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Bush Economics: Five Years of Taking From the Middle Class

Feel like you're working harder, yet making less and losing hard-fought financial ground for your family?

Well, you're hardly alone. And then the big question...are you better off now than before George Bush was President?
From the Center for American Progress....

Despite a growing economy and soaring corporate profits and CEO salaries, America's workers experienced declining wages last year for the first time in fourteen years. Wage growth in 2004 and the first two months of 2005 trailed inflation, compounding the problems for a middle class already squeezed by higher housing, energy and health costs. At the same time, corporate America saw record profits as businesses squeezed more productivity out of workers without raising pay.

American workers are losing ground while CEO's are making record salaries. Overall, American workers saw a wage increase of just 2.5 percent in 2004 while average prices rose 2.7 percent. Yet, a Wall St. Journal study over the same period shows that "the median salary and bonus for chief executives in office at least two years soared 14.5% last year to $2,470,600." The cash-compensation upsurge is "the biggest since the study began in 1989."

As Americans suffer through soaring health care and gasoline, the health industry and oil companies are making out like bandits. A study by AARP showed wholesale prices for popular brand-name prescription drugs rose by an average 7.1 percent in 2004, "more than twice the general inflation rate." Additional research shows CEOs of oil companies were the highest paid executives in 2004 raking in a median compensation package of $16.6 million (a 109 percent increase over the previous year). Meanwhile, Americans are shelling out an average of $2.28 per gallon for gas this week - up 49 cents from a year ago.

We must return to economic policies that strengthen and support the middle class. For nearly a decade in the 1990s, America's middle class was solid and working class families had chances to move ahead. Wages increased; investments grew; and people were able to save and afford college educations. Under conservative economic leadership, the American dream is becoming increasingly precarious.

Five years of ineffective and unfair tax changes, soaring deficits, and cuts in basic services have left America's middle class squeezed and on edge.

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