For those who remember the days of recession, high unemployment and high inflation in the 1970s, the state of the American economy in 1999 is remarkable. We are enjoying the longest peacetime recovery in U.S. history, a record low unemployment rate (4.3 percent in May), and few signs of inflation, despite rapid expansion of output and jobs. The strength of the U.S.
The new poverty numbers came out today, and they aren't pretty.
The Census Bureau reports that more than 15 percent of Americans
are living in poverty--a number that's gone up for three consecutive years and
is the highest it's been since 1959.
This week marks the 15th
anniversary of welfare reform, in which a Republican Congress and a
re-election-focused Democratic president got together to fulfill the latter's
promise to "end welfare as we know it."
It's official: Congress passed a debt-ceiling deal, and the president signed it. While this is certainly preferable to the
country defaulting on its obligations, it's not an
inspiring piece of legislation.
"In these tough times, Americans are tightening their belts—and their
government needs to do the same." This bipartisan applause line is pithy, full of populist empathy and easy to
understand. It's also exactly wrong.
The glory of American politics is that voters get to "throw the rascals
out"—whether or not they understand who the rascals are or the nature
of the crisis the nation is in. Very little could have done by any
government during this worldwide economic slowdown to address the high
unemployment, except more government stimulus, which is what voters say
they don't want.
A rising economic tide lifts everybody’s financial boat. Well, almost everybody’s. Thanks to the country’s unprecedented economic expansion, the great majority of Americans are better off financially than they were several years ago. Not only are the rich getting richer, but the middle classes too have seen a surge in income and wealth. The economic boom has even helped low-income families.