The Poor Just Get ... Richer
That's one reason why NanPo and Harry are in such a tizzy. They've got to fight for the little guy, the poorest of the poor. Get them programs. Get them help. Got to stop W. and his greedy horde. Got to attach a minimum wage bump to the war funding bill. For the little guys.
Well, you're not going to hear these numbers quoted too often in Dem circles, but here's what the Congressional Budget Office has to say about all that:
That's right. As the WSJ editorializes today, the poorest of the poor have shown the greatest income growth over the last 15 years -- a 78% increase.
What happened? CBO says the main causes of this low-income earnings surge have been a combination of welfare reform, expansion of the earned income tax credit and wage gains from a tight labor market, especially in the late stages of the 1990s expansion. Though cash welfare fell as a share of overall income (which includes government benefits), earnings from work climbed sharply as the 1996 welfare reform pushed at least one family breadwinner into the job market.Re-read that: GOP programs, like the welfare reform the GOP forced Clinton to sign after he had dug in his heels against it, like low taxes that expand the economy and the earned income tax credit have worked.
Dems will focus on the 54 percent increase in income of the richest of the rich, condemning the GOP as they do, but you won't hear a one of them mention the 78% increase in the income of the poor.
Savvy readers will note that because the Dems have succeeded in turning the national debate to the needs of the poorest and the greeds of the richest, the middle class has missed out on much of this economy's largesse. The 20th, 40th and 60th percentiles have an average income growth of just 21% -- less than half that of the richest and barely more than a quarter that of the poorest.
Now, a 21% growth over 15 years beats what Carter could have done, but it's not great. If we're going to debate the economy at all -- I'd rather we just let it run itself, but what chance is there of that? -- we should stop the divisiveness of John Edwards and his fell Dems and look at everyone, not the extremes.