Today in the War on the Middle Class.

In the latest sign that the U.S. continues to hurtle toward Third World nation status, a Federal Reserve report released yesterday underscores the depth and breadth of the devastation to the American middle class that is a direct result of conservative economic policy:

WASHINGTON — The recent economic crisis left the median American family in 2010 with no more wealth than in the early 1990s, erasing almost two decades of accumulated prosperity, the Federal Reserve said Monday.

A hypothetical family richer than half the nation’s families and poorer than the other half had a net worth of $77,300 in 2010, compared with $126,400 in 2007, the Fed said. The crash of housing prices directly accounted for three-quarters of the loss.

Of course, the “crash of housing prices” has a direct cause:  after more than a decade of deregulation in homage to the “free market” gods, America’s Owners — that is, the Masters of the Universe at the nation’s largest banks — engaged in a massive scheme of fraud, recklessness and criminality, and subsequently paid no meaningful price for their perfidy.  It’s true that the Masters of the Universe do suffer so very much from hurt feelings whenever people mention what they did.  This is why every time a reporter writes a sentence like “the crash of housing prices directly accounted for three-quarters of the loss,” it should be followed by a phrase explicitly stating that said crash was the fault of “Masters of the Universe at the nation’s largest banks who engaged in a massive scheme of fraud, recklessness and criminality, and subsequently paid no meaningful price for their perfidy.”

Speaking of economic devastation, the Fed report also provided additional facts that should be forevermore linked to the same bankers:

Families’ income also continued to decline, a trend that predated the crisis but accelerated over the same period. Median family income fell to $45,800 in 2010 from $49,600 in 2007. All figures were adjusted for inflation.

The Fed found that middle-class families had sustained the largest percentage losses in both wealth and income during the crisis…

Fewer said they were saving for retirement, or for education, or for a down payment on a home.

Families with incomes in the middle 60 percent of the population lost a larger share of their wealth over the three-year period than the wealthiest and poorest families.

One basic reason for this disproportion is that the wealth of the middle class is mostly in housing, and the median amount of home equity dropped to $75,000 in 2010 from $110,000 in 2007. And while other forms of wealth have recovered much of the value lost in the crisis, housing prices have hardly budged…

“…all of which is the fault of Masters of the Universe at the nation’s largest banks who engaged in a massive scheme of fraud, recklessness and criminality, and subsequently paid no meaningful price for their perfidy.”  (Sorry.  Just a suggestion.)

Meanwhile, on another front:

Costs led 58 percent of people to put off or go without health care they needed in the previous 12 months, a increase from 50 percent last August, says a survey released Monday by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit research organization based in Menlo Park, Calif. Americans skipped doctor and dentist visits, didn’t receive diagnostic tests, didn’t take their medicines, cut pills in half or took other steps to save money that could make them less healthy, the survey found…

Americans spent $2.6 trillion on health care in 2010, a tenfold increase since 1980, according to federal government figures. Higher prices for medical procedures, tests, drugs and other health care goods and services are increasingly burdensome on American households, contributing to higher health insurance premiums and fostering a population of uninsured people that’s approaching 50 million. That money isn’t buying Americans higher-quality care than is available in other rich countries, either.

An American family of four with job-based health insurance will spend more than $20,000 on premiums, deductibles, co-payments and other expenses this year, according to a recent analysis by Milliman, a firm that consults with companies about employee benefits.

So let me get this straight:  the average American family of four has a yearly median income of $45,800, and a $20,000 health care bill.  What’s wrong with this picture?

Not surprisingly, the uninsured are worse off than those who have health insurance, the Kaiser Family Foundation survey shows. Almost half of the uninsured, 47 percent, reported difficulties covering their medical expenses and 81 percent of them said they’d put off health care they needed. But having health insurance doesn’t guarantee access to affordable health care: 23 percent of people less than 65 years old who have health insurance said they faced trouble paying medical bills and 55 percent said they didn’t get health care they needed because of cost.

That’s right: almost a quarter of the people who have health insurance are struggling to pay medical bills, and more than half are forgoing needed health care due to the expense.  Obviously the insured fare a bit better than the uninsured, 81 percent of whom are forgoing necessary medical care.  But the larger point here is that President Barack Obama sold out the public option and the potential promise of single-payer for a private healthcare system that doesn’t even work.

To be fair, this state of affairs is not entirely the fault of the Masters of the Universe at the nation’s largest banks who engaged in a massive scheme of fraud, recklessness and criminality, and subsequently paid no meaningful price for their perfidy.  No, this particular state of affairs is mainly the fault of the insurance companies themselves, enabled and abetted by craven, corrupt, cowardly conservative politicians like Joe Lieberman and Barack Obama.  Selling out the American people for the sake of your own power and wealth is bad enough in principle.  But the devastation and pain inflicted on the American middle class as a result of doing so is unconscionable.  And unforgivable.

Whatever you do, don’t get sick in the United States of Jesus’s Free Market America:

A large share of those who need health care the most reported these difficulties. Forty-five percent of people who said they were in fair or poor health had problems with medical bills, compared to 29 percent of individuals in good health and 19 percent of those in excellent or very good health. Among the sickest people, 77 percent said they didn’t receive necessary treatments.

This is nothing short of a national disgrace.  What kind of country lets its sickest people go without treatment, when under a single payer system we would all (a) pay less for health care, (b) have better health outcomes, and (c) ensure access for everyone?

I’ll tell you what kind of country:  a conservative country.

One thought on “Today in the War on the Middle Class.

  1. REALITY!! And A Fix for Unemployment, Homelessness and Hunger

    In addition to fixing healthcare the right way we need a NewDeal. We need a permanent and updated FDR WPA (Works Progress Administration). A Full employment act requiring the government to provide a job for everyone able to work that wants to work at a living wage or better. At safe, meaningful work where they live. Guaranteed by the US government. With free or very affordable excellent healthcare and free or very affordable education and training for advancement or just personal enrichment.

    ( http://my.firedoglake.com/iflizwerequeen/2011/05/16/how-about-a-little-truth-about-what-the-majority-want-for-health-care/ )

    ( Gov. Peter Shumlin: Real Healthcare reform — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8yFUbkVCsZ4 )

    ( Health Care Budget Deficit Calculator — http://www.cepr.net/calculators/hc/hc-calculator.html )

    ( Briefing: Dean Baker on Boosting the Economy by Saving Healthcare http://t.co/fmVz8nM )

    START NOW!

    As you all know. Had congress passed a single-payer or government-run robust Public Option CHOICE! available to everyone on day one, our economy and jobs would have taken off like a rocket. And still will. Single-payer would be best. But a government-run robust Public Option CHOICE! that can lead to a single-payer system is the least you can accept. It’s not about competing with for-profit healthcare and for-profit health insurance. It’s about replacing it with Universal Healthcare Assurance. Everyone knows this now.

    The message from the midterm elections was clear. The American people want real healthcare reform. They want that individual mandate requiring them to buy private health insurance abolished. And they want a government-run robust public option CHOICE! available to everyone on day one. And they want it now.

    They want Drug re-importation, and abolishment, or strong restrictions on patents for biologic and prescription drugs. And government controlled and negotiated drug and medical cost. They want back control of their healthcare system from the Medical Industrial Complex. And they want it NOW!

    THE AMERICAN PEOPLE WILL NOT, AND MUST NOT, ALLOW AN INDIVIDUAL MANDATE TO STAND WITHOUT A STRONG GOVERNMENT-RUN PUBLIC OPTION CHOICE! AVAILABLE TO EVERYONE.

    For-profit health insurance is extremely unethical, and morally repugnant. It’s as morally repugnant as slavery was. And few if any decent Americans are going to allow them-self to be compelled to support such an unethical and immoral crime against humanity.

    This is a matter of National and Global security. There can be NO MORE EXCUSES.

    Further, we want that corrupt, undemocratic filibuster abolished. Whats the point of an election if one corrupt member of congress can block the will of the people, and any legislation the majority wants. And do it in secret. Give me a break people.

    Also, unemployment healthcare benefits are critically needed. But they should be provided through the Medicare program at cost, less the 65% government premium subsidy provided now to private for profit health insurance.

    Congress should stop wasting hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer money on private for profit health insurance subsidies. Subsidies that cost the taxpayer 10x as much or more than Medicare does. Private for profit health insurance plans cost more. But provide dangerous and poorer quality patient care.

    Republicans: GET RID OF THE INDIVIDUAL MANDATE.

    Democrats: ADD A ROBUST GOVERNMENT-RUN PUBLIC OPTION TO HEALTHCARE REFORM.

    This is what the American people are shouting at you. Both parties have just enough power now to do what the American people want. GET! IT! DONE! NOW!

    If congress does not abolish the individual mandate. And establish a government-run public option CHOICE! before the end of 2011. EVERY! member of congress up for reelection in 2012 will face strong progressive pro public option, and anti-individual mandate replacement candidates.

    Strong progressive pro “PUBLIC OPTION” CHOICE! and anti-individual mandate volunteer candidates should begin now. And start the process of replacing any and all members of congress that obstruct, or fail to add a government-run robust PUBLIC OPTION CHOICE! before the end of 2011.

    We need two or three very strong progressive volunteer candidates for every member of congress that will be up for reelection in 2012. You should be fully prepared to politically EVISCERATE EVERY INCUMBENT that fails or obstructs “THE PUBLIC OPTION”. And you should be willing to step aside and support the strongest pro “PUBLIC OPTION” candidate if the need arises.

    ASSUME CONGRESS WILL FAIL and SELLOUT again. So start preparing now to CUT THEIR POLITICAL THROATS. You can always step aside if they succeed. But only if they succeed. We didn’t have much time to prepare before these past midterm elections. So the American people had to use a political shotgun approach. But by 2012 you will have a scalpel.

    Congress could have passed a robust government-run public option during it’s lame duck session. They knew what the American people wanted. They already had several bills on record. And the house had already passed a public option. Departing members could have left with a truly great accomplishment. And the rest of you could have solidified your job before the 2012 elections.

    President Obama, you promised the American people a strong public option available to everyone. And the American people overwhelmingly supported you for it. Maybe it just wasn’t possible before. But it is now.

    Knock heads. Threaten people. Or do whatever you have to. We will support you. But get us that robust public option CHOICE! available to everyone on day one before the end of 2011. Or We The People Of The United States will make the past midterm election look like a cake walk in 2012. And it will include you.

    We still have a healthcare crisis in America. With hundreds of thousands dieing needlessly every year in America. And a for profit medical industrial complex that threatens the security and health of the entire world. They have already attacked the world with H1N1 killing thousands, and injuring millions. And more attacks are planned for profit, and to feed their greed.

    Spread the word people.

    Progressives, prepare the American peoples scalpels. It’s time to remove some politically diseased tissues.

    God Bless You my fellow human beings. I’m proud to be one of you. You did good.

    See you on the battle field.

    Sincerely

    jacksmith – WorkingClass :-)

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