President Bush, SOTU address, January 2006: Our economy is healthy and vigorous... In the last two-and-a-half years, America has created 4.6 million new jobs... Even in the face of higher energy prices and natural disasters, the American people have turned in an economic performance that is the envy of the world.
As Paul Harvey would say, now for the rest of the story:
More than 25 million Americans turned to the nation's largest network of food banks, soup kitchens and shelters for meals last year, up 9 percent from 2001. Those seeking food included 9 million children and nearly 3 million senior citizens, says a report from America's Second Harvest, and 36 percent of people seeking food came from households in which at least one person had a job.
After adjusting for inflation, wages have not risen during the last three years. For low- and middle-wage workers, as well as those with a high school degree, real wages fell last year by 1%-2%.
An individual who works full-time at the current minimum wage earns about $10,700 a year — $5,390 below the 2005 poverty line for a family of three, and $8,650 below the poverty line for a family of four.
In 2005, minimum wage workers earned only 32% of the average hourly wage. Barring a minimum wage increase, we are poised to break a record in 2006 for the greatest inequality between minimum wage and average wage workers since the end of World War II.
President Bush has noted that 2 million jobs were created over the course of 2005, and that we have added 4.6 million jobs since the decline in jobs ended in May 2003. This is not evidence that the tax cuts are working. When the third round of tax cuts passed in 2003, one of the Bush administration's major selling points was the claim that the economy would create 5.5 million jobs from July 2003 through the end of 2004--almost one and a half million more jobs than would be expected in a normal recovery.
Instead, only 2.4 million jobs were created, 1.7 million less than the number we were told to expect with no tax cut. Job growth remains abnormally slow. Last year's 2 million new jobs represented a gain of only 1.5%. With normal growth, we would have created 4.6 million jobs last year.
For all the talk of expanding opportunities to the less well-off, experts note that the gap between minority and white home ownership remains unchanged from a decade ago at about 25 percentage points, and the N.Y. Times reports on the alarming rate of foreclosure among the nation's poor.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and President Bush have proposed fee hikes to the Pentagon’s health care system, TRICARE, that could deny health benefits to as many as 600,000 veterans. Under Bush's proposal, military retirees would be forced to pay higher prescription drug co-payments and annual enrollment fees. The plan would triple health care costs for retirees.
Federally based programs to help pay for higher education would take significant hits: The Perkins Loan program would be eliminated, and Pell grant funding for college students would drop by $4.6 billion.
And on, and on...