Contrary to what Donald Trump has been preaching, the combination of Barack Obama’s economic policy and the Federal Reserve Bank’s monetary policy is working. The economic well-being of the average American family is almost back to what it was at the end of the Clinton presidency before it took a drastic drop during the George W. Bush administration.
This week the Census Bureau issued reports on income, poverty, and health insurance. There was good news in all three categories. The median family income rose 5.2 percent to $56,500 in 2015; the poverty rate declined; and there was an increase in the number of Americans covered by health insurance.
Republicans have claimed that President Obama’s modest increase in the taxes on the rich would stifle economic activity by destroying the incentive that rich people have to invest. That turns out to not have been true.
What is true is that the income of the average worker measured in inflation-adjusted dollars is not yet quite back to where it was at the end of the Clinton administration, but it is far above where it was when President Obama took over from the economically disastrous presidency of George W. Bush.
One of the criticisms of the Obama recovery has been that only the people at the top of the income and education scales were profiting from higher wages. Now there is proof that the economic improvement is also helping those at the bottom of the ladder who work at low-skilled, entry-level jobs. Anecdotally, I can report that here in Phoenix, help wanted signs are popping up all over and have become almost as common as they were during the Clinton administration. True, the jobs offered in the retail, lodging, and restaurant trade are probably not high paying. However, with the competition for unskilled and semi-skilled workers heating up, employers are being forced to raise wages to attract employees.
Part of President Obama’s economic policy has been to distribute benefits, such as health insurance, to those near the bottom of the economic ladder. Republicans said that would never work and lobbied for giving benefits to the wealthy, arguing that only by having wealth trickle down from the rich to the poor would the economy improve. The statistics released earlier this week prove that the Republicans were wrong.
There is still work to be done. The Affordable Care Act, commonly know as Obamacare, has some problems that need to be fixed. However, House Republicans refuse to fix them. Instead, they take vote after vote to repeal Obamacare altogether. They take these infantile votes simply to pat each other on the back for opposing any progress that might make Obama look good. They are like kids who congratulate each other after vandalizing property.
House Republicans need to stop being obstructionist and to start thinking about the well-being of the United States and its people instead of engaging in frivolous political games. If they refuse to get to work and do the job they were elected to do, they should be voted out of office and replaced by representatives who put the welfare of the country above their callow political ideology. I hope voters will keep that in mind when going to the polls in November.
It is also worth remembering that electing a president who is not up to the job can be disastrous. President George W. Bush presided over the worst economic crisis in modern US history and got us involved a war in Iraq that has transformed the world into a less secure place. Now Donald Trump wants to be president, even though he is even much less qualified for the job that George Bush was. The mess that George Bush put this country through was bad enough. Can you imagine just how bad things could get if we elect a president who doesn’t even know how to read a book?