Too bad the American family is enjoying no such surplus


In April, the federal government notched its first budget surplus since President Obama took office, according to today’s news.

Too bad it would appear that American families aren’t seeing any such surplus.

I’m no Adam Smith, but one does not need to be an economist to note it seems fishy for the media to celebrate this surplus when, by objective accounts, the American family is economically worse off than at any time since 1993.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of September, 2011, despite an inflation-adjusted decrease in the typical American family’s income to levels lower than any time since 1996, and an increase in the fraction of Americans living in poverty (a higher percentage than at any time since 1993), there has been no narrowing of the gap between rich and poor during Obama’s tenure as President.

From the Wall Street Journal (September 2011):

Meanwhile, the gap between the best-off and worst-off Americans remained largely unchanged. The top fifth of households accounted for 50.2% of all pre-tax income; the bottom two-fifths got 11.8%. In 1999, the top fifth claimed 49.4% and the bottom got 12.5% of the income.

The Census Bureau said 15.1% of Americans were living below the poverty line, set at $22,314 for a family of four in 2010. That’s up from 14.3% last year and from 12.5% in 2007, before the recession. The official poverty rate overestimates the number of people living in poverty because it doesn’t count many government anti-poverty programs, such as subsidized housing, food stamps and the Earned Income Tax Credit.

So, a higher proportion and larger number of Americans are living in poverty than than they were during George Bush’s presidency. And it turns out that this general decrease in standard of living has not been accompanied by any significant narrowing of  the gap between rich and poor. Everybody’s just got less, including the poor.

But on paper, there’s a federal government surplus, and that’s what media (at least some outlets) choose to celebrate.

Sounds like socialism at its worst.

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