When President Bush left office in 2009, the US unemployment rate was around 7.7%. Within the first three months, we lost almost 2.7 million jobs. By year end, on top of the 10 million people who were unemployed, over 5 million jobs were lost or a 10% unemployment rate. According to CBO:
President Obama's much-maligned economic stimulus package added as many as 3.3 million jobs to the economy during the second quarter of this year, and may have prevented the nation from lapsing back into recession, according to a report released Tuesday by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.If this graph is any indication, President Obama was handed a trashed economy with a huge gap in deficit spending and no money in the bank. . It is safe to assume even if we don't have raw data (which we do) to conclude that when there is so much job lose caused by a bleeding economy, there sure will be a trickled down effect, a correlation to an increased level of many disparities. It is only common sense to also understand that the problems handed to the President is by far the most challenging and requires many interventions at all levels. Poverty According to Census Bureau, one in seven Americans household(44 million) are now living at poverty level, living at $22K or less a year. This makes the increase in poverty rate during the Obama Administration for 2009 from 13.2% to 14.3%, an increase of almost 4 million people living in poverty. Assuming there are 2.55 people in a household, it means the lose of 1.57 million jobs out of the 5 million lost during 2009 has most like contributed to the increased level of people living in poverty. As of 2009, 26% of African Americans, 25% of Hispanics, 12% of Whites and 13% of Asians are living at poverty level. Census also reports that, the child poverty rate and the number in poverty increased by 2.7 percentage points and 2.1 million between 2007 and 2009. So, what are some of the notable things President Obama has been doing to tackle Poverty since there seems to be a concerted effort in some blogs to undermine what has and is being done but rather more attention is being given to the assertion - Obama does not care for the poor meme - by some on the liberal left mostly because of misinformation or gross intentional misrepresentation. As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the Obama Administration has made a broad and significant investments to help reduce and assist people that have become victims of the increased poverty made worse by economic crisis. 1) A $20 billion increase for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps. 2) A $1 billion in funding for the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) that is intended to revitalize low-income communities via "Job training and placement assistance", "Financial literacy programs", et al, to helping families become self-sufficient. 3) A $2 billion in new Neighborhood Stabilization Funds that will allow ailing neighborhoods be kept maintained. 4) A $1.5 billion in Homelessness Prevention Funds to keep people in their homes and prevent homelessness. 5) A $5 billion increase for the Weatherization Assistance Program to help low income families save on their residential energy expenditures by making their homes more energy efficient. 6) A $4 Billion program, The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, "authorizes funding for federal school meal and child nutrition programs and increases access to healthy food for low-income children." These are just a handful of the many initiatives that are working there way to those in poverty or facing poverty if they miss their next pay check along with the effort to end the 640,000 men, women and children who are homeless in America by 2020. However, it would be quite easy to just focus on Poverty and nothing else if Poverty was the only problem American faces but the same people who are pushed into poverty are also losing their health insurance coverage. Americans who have lost their work hours and who are barely making it are also opting out of their health coverage not to mention some losing their health insurance as their employers are also being squeezed to make ends meet. However, while it might take time, there are good news already in the making that should make Americans optimistic about the direction we are heading because of the impactthe Health Care Reform Bill has already made (read here and here) and will make as we go forward. Americans without health coverage According to Census Bureau, not surprisingly, the recession last year has also increased the number of Americans who have lost their job in the process causing an increased number of Americans without health insurance coverage.
The percentage of people without health insurance increased to 16.7 percent in 2009 from 15.4 percent in 2008. The number of uninsured people increased to 50.7 million in 2009 from 46.3 million in 2008.When you have 5 million people losing their jobs and even an increased level of businesses offering Health Insurance since HCR bill, it would not be surprising to see the level of uninsured Americans soaring to 50.7 million. It is common sense and a trickled down effect of a beat-up economy, lose of job and/or cut in benefits by employers struggling. However, as our Economy is showing improvements, the Los Angeles Times reports how because of the Health Care Reform Bill, increased number of Businesses are now offering Health Insurance to their employees.
The increase is partly attributed to a tax credit created by the nation's new healthcare law. Some insurers are aggressively marketing the break, which can offset up to 35% of a company's costs. //snip In the six months after the law was signed in March, UnitedHealth Group Inc., the country's largest insurer, added 75,000 new customers who work for companies with fewer than 50 employees. The Minnesota company called the increase notable but declined to reveal further details. Coventry Health Care Inc., an insurer in Maryland that focuses on small businesses, signed contracts to cover 115,000 new workers in the first nine months of this year, an 8% jump. In California, Warner Pacific Insurance Services in Westlake Village, a major servicer of insurance brokers, has seen business grow more than 10% this year, a company executive said. And Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City, the largest insurer in the Kansas City, Mo., area, is reporting a 58% jump in the number of small businesses buying insurance since April, the first full month after the legislation was signed into law.It may not be all universal, these changes, but, I am inclined to think that the path to a better health care system has already started to show a sign of relief to many who have not been able to afford Health Insurance in the past. The trend sure seems to boost confidence and create a level of security to those who were and still are at risk of losing their insurances. When Bob Herbert in his Op-ed article, The Data and the Reality makes the opinions of the most vulnerable, those who have lost their job for over a years, those who are hurting become the only voice of reality for the State of our nation, avoiding to see raw data, I find the currently Liberal thinking minds to be dismally off-beat regardless of how respected their voices are. That includes Paul Krugman too at times. Well, I offer Bob Herbert to read a real analysis By Vicki Needham of The Hill,Analysis: Job creation happening faster than in other recessions[check detail state-by-state analysis in the link within the quote below]:
A Joint Economic Committee state-by-state analysis released Wednesday finds that jobs are returning faster compared with previous recessions, despite greater overall job losses across all 50 states. While the recovery looks different across states, 46 states and the District of Columbia added private-sector jobs from January to November this year, with an increase of 4 percent in the District of Columbia and more than 2 percent in Oklahoma, Texas, Minnesota, Arkansas, North Dakota, Louisiana and Indiana. //snip The most recent recession was deeper in terms of job losses than any of the four previous recessions — national job losses were 5.3 percent this time around, compared with job losses of 1.2 percent (2001), 1.1 percent (1982-83) and 3.1 percent (1981-82). //snip The economy is showing positive signs of growth heading into 2011, with the index of leading economic indicators increasing 1.1 percent in November, the biggest jump since March, when the index jumped 1.4 percent, according to Conference Board's report released last week.I am more inclined to believe raw data as noted in this report above which is comprehensive than the opinion's of spin pundits who trivialize the pain of the vulnerable for a quick hit-and-run bias reporting. That said, it is not to say that there is no real problem in the way America is being shaped. The way America is being shaped is not very promising. Shoot, the way America has been shaped for the many under class has not been promising for generations. The American dream of prosperity is hard earned now even for those with privileges and much worse for the minority. The battle has long been won by Corporations, we are just seeing its effect as if it has just started. Let's face it, unless America slowly and surely dismantle the institutionalized supremacy of Corporations of vultures, America is not going to be the power house it used to be economically. Corporation will. When companies are not investing in their country but build factories oversees so that they can maximize their profits, and further keep their profits in the foreign company they operate to avoid paying taxes, it is not just greed, we are surrounded by anti-American traitors who believe and view the world as an exploitable entity. Don't be surprised to see a Corporate dominance in the world at the expenses of Child Labor, Environmental disasters, Human Right violations, et al, to continue unless of course as the leader of the free world we shape our policies to fight the greed that has been displayed for the last 30 plus years. I think most of us get so pissed with our pent-up frustration about these hideous facts and just love to make a swiping charge at anyone of power and want change that can reverse our course to them old days immediately. Well, the truth is them days may just be an illusion. It has always been an illusion for most under class for a number of years while the privileged never looked back to pick up the piece left behind. It was easy when it did not hit home but the suffering we never stopped is not biting us in the ass because of our complacency in looking the other way. The paradigm has shifted and we must acknowledge it. Them days are never ever are going to come back. It never came for African Americans. African Americans know this shit like no other. We understand to be passed over, when ours is taken away from us, when we are exploited by unfair business practices and being silenced systematically. This shit ain't news for us. In fact, we have been screaming about it all for generations. When the unemployment rate was 4% for Whites, it has always been 10% for African African Americans. When it is 9.8% today, it is 20% for African Americans. What we are seeing now however is a whole lot of ones privilege folks, many who are not educated, falling victim of the reality today - Corporatism. What used to come easy yesterday, thanks to fucking globalization, it is gone now and America better start adjusting and when I mean adjusting I am not talking about let us all sink to the bottom to let Republicans take us for another ride so we can teach Democrats a lesson type of adjusting because if we are not trying to fix the economy today the way this President is doing, getting another shot at a more popular, most Admired and most effective President that will get things done may well be too late to pass the legacy we cherish and love of this country to our children. Check this out for yourself (hat tip to BWD's blog): Check out the progress the Obama Adminstration and the Democratic Congress has made in your neck of the woods. (Hat tip to Blue Wave News blog) Sometimes it is easy to snap at every problem we face because it is just simply the easiest and humanly thing to do when we are feeling the pain. If we are not getting ours, as seen in some progressive blogs, there is a tendency to going crazy wild like this diary using class and race to undermine other positive things that are being accomplished. Let us not fall victims of division. America is still the future and we must believe in HER. We all must work intersectionally to build the America we want and it start by recognizing that we are in deep hole and must pulling ourselves out of it methodical. We must not quit as our problems are way too broad and require pragmatic approach but I believe in my America I will leave for the next generation. This shit is no longer about me. The future sure might look bilk but I still believe my America is promising. If you don't believe me about my America, check this graph out: Toasting for a better America and a Happy New Year!
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