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Old 09-17-2004, 08:16 AM   #1
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Middle Class Report

This report cuts through the sound bites.

http://www.tompaine.com/articles/mil...ddle_class.php

Milking The Middle Class
Fernando Ferrer
September 16, 2004


Finally, someone had the good sense to investigate where legislators stand on helping the middle class. The Drum Major Institute just released its first-ever report card. Here, DMI president Ferrer writes about how both parties stack up. In November, voters in 34 states will choose a senator to represent their interests in Washington D.C. DMI found that—of those 34 races—16 will feature incumbent U.S. Senators who get good grades for helping to strengthen and expand the middle class. But 10 involve incumbent senators with a history of voting against the interests of the middle class.

Fernando Ferrer is president of the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy.

Experiencing “middle-class fatigue?" It’s understandable. Every four years, like clockwork, the middle class and their concerns are pushed to the forefront of the national discussion as candidates court their prized electoral votes.

But this year, especially, we must push through the fatigue. Because the plight of the middle class is the best illustration of the failure of current social and economic policy and our best hope for change.

...

The legislation we examined didn’t specify “middle class” in their titles, but the impact on the middle class was remarkable. From the effort to repeal the estate tax—which will force an inevitable increase in the local taxation burden on middle-class families—to the amendment to protect U.S. workers from the consequences of offshoring, to the Pharmaceutical Market Access Act allowing the importation of cheaper drugs from Canada, legislators had a real choice in 2003 to support or abandon middle-class families.

Too often, however, your representatives chose to fail the middle class. While the Senate earned a grade of “B” overall, the average grade masked great disparities: Almost 90 percent of Democratic Senators received an A, while fully one-quarter of Republican Senators received an F for their failure to support the middle class.

These party divisions were evident in the House of Representatives as well: Two-thirds of Republicans received an F, compared to one percent of their Democratic colleagues.

Again and again, in 2003, Republicans’ votes were body blows to struggling middle class families—from a tax cut that lavished the wealthiest one percent of Americans with 40 percent of the total tax cut and left the average middle-class family with an $800 check, to a bankruptcy bill that would create a windfall for an unregulated credit card industry at the expense of vulnerable middle-class families. When 88 percent of Republicans in the Senate vote against preserving overtime benefits for eight million American workers, the voters who elected those senators have every right to hold them accountable.
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Old 09-17-2004, 02:54 PM   #2
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Thank you, Scarletwine, for posting this article!

Too often in this forum, we stand behind political ideologies and slogans and don't deal with ACTUAL REALITY for many (maybe the majority) of the American people.

The SIMPLE FACT is that THE ECONOMIC WELL BEING OF MILLIONS of AMERICANS HAVE PLUNGED DOWNWARD in the last four years.

EVEN BEFORE 9/11, there were economic trends and downturns in the tech and other sectors in the American economy so George Bush can't simply say it was all due to 9/11 - because it wasn't!

And Bush's "tax relief" plans have not panned out to be the boost to the American economy that he and his strategists said would happen. What DID happen was that the richest Americans got a larger percentage of their tax money to keep and those of us on the economic bottom GOT LESS OF OUR MONEY to keep!(I can prove that with my income tax returns)

So, the two sides can argue back and forth all they want - their hot air will not improve anything for those of us who are poor.

My only question to the millions of hard-working, overtaxed Americans is : ARE YOU BETTER OFF THAN YOU WERE FOUR YEARS AGO?

The only answer (according to the statistics) is : NO !!

Definitely time for regime change....
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Old 09-17-2004, 04:57 PM   #3
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amen.
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Old 09-18-2004, 07:23 AM   #4
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Thank you, U2democrat.

I live the statistics that everyone else talks about

I know firsthand the PAIN THAT BUSH HAS BROUGHT ON WORKING POOR AMERICANS.

It's just plain wrong for so many Americans to suffer so much.

DEFINITELY TIME FOR REGIME CHANGE....
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Old 09-18-2004, 09:27 AM   #5
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I agree the middle class is shrinking. It has been for years. THIS IS NOT BUSH'S FAULT. It was like that during Clinton too, that's when people I know first started noticing it. Don't be fooled into thinking Kerry is going to save anyone because it's not true. It's an unfortunate trend that has more to do with money than politics.
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Old 09-18-2004, 10:20 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by U2Kitten
I. It's an unfortunate trend that has more to do with money than politics.
It's not an unfortunate trend. It is a deliberate assault on the middle class in an effort to bankrupt the safety net.
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Old 09-18-2004, 12:43 PM   #7
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I have an aunt who told me some 10 years ago that there would come a time when there were only rich and poor and no middle class. I have seen things headed that way, but not only in the last 4 years, so I don't blame Bush alone or think Kerry is going to save us from it. No politician cares about people who don't have money. A BIG problem is the good paying jobs being moved to other countries where people can be payed less. This had destroyed the lifestyle of the one earner family, it now takes 2 or even 3 jobs to earn what one used to. Now, is about to destroy the American dream of home ownership and a comfortable existence for most citizens. I see this, I suffer from it, it makes me sick. But I don't blame any one politician, and I don't believe there is anyone in our 2 party system who cares or would do anything about it.
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Old 09-18-2004, 05:47 PM   #8
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Like your Aunt, I myself have thought 10 years ago that there would be no more middle class. I have also seen it headed this way. This is where I have major issues with the Republican Party and the reason why I'm a Democrat. I fault the partisanship of these parties for the problems. Since we are so divided in how to deal with our problems, we spend much energy swaying from one method to the other without really resolving anything. Wouldn’t it be nice if our country got together and worked on benefiting all with our tax dollars instead of fighting about who should take care of us? (Ie. The federal government, the state government, the local government or ourselves.)

The tax system of the Republican Party is to give more to the taxpayer - to the point of not worrying about anyone else. The corporations are more important than the workers. Wal-Mart supporting the Republican Party and paying its workers so badly speaks in loud volumes to me. This is also highlighted by the tax cuts that Bush has given. These tax cuts benefit the wealthy. Bill Clinton summed it up a bit for me:

http://www.johnkerry.com/commentary/072604_clinton.html

Quote:
When I was in office, the Republicans were pretty mean to me. When I left and made money, I became part of the most important group in the world to them. At first I thought I should send them a thank you note—until I realized they were sending you the bill.

They protected my tax cuts while:

Withholding promised funding for the Leave No Child Behind Act, leaving over 2 million children behind

Cutting 140,000 unemployed workers out of job training
100,000 working families out of child care assistance
300,000 poor children out of after school programs
Raising out of pocket healthcare costs to veterans
Weakening or reversing important environmental advances for clean air and the preservation of our forests.
Everyone had to sacrifice except the wealthiest Americans, who wanted to do their part but were asked only to expend the energy necessary to open the envelopes containing our tax cuts. If you agree with these choices, you should vote to return them to the White House and Congress. If not, take a look at John Kerry, John Edwards and the Democrats
The democratic party may seem wishy washy, flip flopping or whatever , but they always seem to be the party that is worrying about the middle class and the poor. The link that Scarletwine provided shows that the Democratic party is the party that makes the choices that benefit the middle class:

http://www.drummajorinstitute.org/pl...te/dmi/54/2532

Quote:
Based on their votes, Senators Evan Bayh (D-IN), Barbara Boxer (D-CA, Tom Daschle (D-SD), Christopher Dodd (D-CT), Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Russ Feingold (D-WI), Daniel Inouye (D-HI), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Patty Murray (D-WA), Harry Reid (D-NV), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Arlen Specter (R-PA), and Ron Wyden (D-OR) earned a grade of B or better for their support of the middle class in 2003.

Senators Robert Bennett (R-UT), Sam Brownback (R-KS), Jim Bunning (R-KY), Christopher S. Bond (R-MO), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Charles Grassley (R-IA), Judd Gregg (R-NH), John McCain (R-AZ), Richard Shelby (R-AL), and George Voinovich (R-OH) earned a grade of C or worse for their support of the middle class in 2003
Check out where the (D) and (R)’s fall.


Democrats may not always have the best ways to accomplish their ideals and sometimes fail in getting things implemented, but I cannot see the same commitment to taking care of everyone in the Republican Party. Cutting federal taxes that could be planned to benefit all and pushing basic needs like education to the states or worse yet the local communities to fare for themselves does not bode will with me. The wealthy communities increase their taxes to maintain their service levels and the poorer communities do without. I don’t understand the benefit of the Republican taxation system.

I do believe that the Democratic Party is the party that cares. I don’t understand the power of the Republican Party or the bad sigma attached to the Democratic Party enough to know why our country is so divided as to what is best for us. To me, what is best for us is the goal of the Democratic Party.
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Old 09-19-2004, 11:39 AM   #9
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Great post Boston Anne. The tax cuts this admin. has passed changes the tax structure to eliminate tax on wealth and push more on wages. For example, the estate tax is on extreme wealth and dividend taxes are on investments. These are unearned wealth, not wages. By eliminating them the gov't allows the rich to keep more of their money and those who earn their money in wages to pay more of the federal costs.

These are the main reasons the dems get better grades.
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Old 09-19-2004, 01:45 PM   #10
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The reason I brought up 10 years is to say, it's not 'this admininstration's' fault, it's been going downhill for awhile. Bill Clinton was no hero to me. My husband is a federal worker, and our health care costs more than doubled under him, and several years our COLA (cost of living adjustments) were denied or cut. I really believe it is the whole society and not one party's fault. I will never believe the dems care more about the poor. They say they do to get votes, but they don't.
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Old 09-19-2004, 02:50 PM   #11
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Oh and Clinton was sooo nice to the poor what about all the people screwed over by Welfare to work? Duh, if they could get good jobs they wouldn't have been on welfare in the first place! Some people were forced to drive an hour or more to a job, and I know of at least one tragic story where a former welfare mother of 4 was killed on her way home from her job 90 miles away that the gov't forced her to get but there were none in her area. Even some of the 'job training' programs only got them jobs making barely above minimum wage, not enough to live on. Talk about taking away the safety net!
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Old 09-19-2004, 03:24 PM   #12
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Welfare to Work is not perfect but something needed to be done to end the tradition of 2nd and 3rd generation welfare families. How long can someone else be expected to pick up the tab? Welfare is supposed to be a temporary safety net, not a permanent life preserver.

And the government doesn't force you to get a job. You know exactly when your benefits will come to an end and you can either take a job and taper off welfare or you can not take a job and lose your welfare. I do know that some people have to take jobs that don't pay enough to support a family and its not always fair but the welfare system needed to be changed drastically.

Along with the negative stories, I also know of some very positive success stories. Someone in my immediate family went from 25+ years totally welfare dependent to a self sufficient wage earner because she (in her own words, not mine) was "forced to get off her butt and believe in herself again." She readily admits she never, ever would have gone out and willingly looked for a job and Welfare to Work was the best thing that ever happened to her.
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Old 09-19-2004, 03:54 PM   #13
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I agree BAW, I've been lucky enough to not need assistance, but I've had friends that have benefitted from th e WTW. It also included for the first time subsidized child care, which is the reason most motherts couldn't get off welfare.

It also kicked some deadbeat dads to get a job rather than avoid child support.

Kitty, while the dems are by no means perfect, read the two parties platforms. See if you can find anything in the Republican's platforms that give the advantage to the middle. Not one real F thing. At least the dems try and many have their heart in the right place.
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Old 09-20-2004, 12:02 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by U2Kitten
Oh and Clinton was sooo nice to the poor what about all the people screwed over by Welfare to work? Duh, if they could get good jobs they wouldn't have been on welfare in the first place! Some people were forced to drive an hour or more to a job, and I know of at least one tragic story where a former welfare mother of 4 was killed on her way home from her job 90 miles away that the gov't forced her to get but there were none in her area. Even some of the 'job training' programs only got them jobs making barely above minimum wage, not enough to live on. Talk about taking away the safety net!
As sad as it is that the woman was killed on her way home from work, it happens. When you travel, there's always this chance of an accident (as there is when you stay at home, etc.). I don't think you can blame the Welfare To Work program for this. Should there be not such a program and she died at home (electrocuted by a coffee machine, fallen off a staircase, cut herself badly when preparing dinner) would you have then blamed welfare?
And as for having to drive an hour or more to get to work, that's also my situation. In the past few years I've worked on projects that were 45 - 75 minutes away from home. At the moment I'm between projects, so it is now just a 15 minute drive to my head office, but I have a prospective project again 75 minutes away (if not more, this morning I heard on the radio that there was a 9 km traffic jam to that city. Oh the joys of living in a small country with lots of cars...).

So while there have been some unfortunate (individual) situations, I don't think you can then blame the whole program.

C ya!

Marty
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Old 09-20-2004, 01:50 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by U2Kitten
I agree the middle class is shrinking. It has been for years. THIS IS NOT BUSH'S FAULT. It was like that during Clinton too, that's when people I know first started noticing it.
I agree that it's not solely Bush' fault or Clinton his fault but it does show why the tax cuts of th elast couple of years border on irresponsible behaviour
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