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August 2005 Archives
President Bush has nominated Judge John G. Roberts Jr., a Catholic, to replace Justice Sandra O'Connor on the Supreme Court. Judge Roberts attended a Catholic high school in Indiana and completed his undergraduate studies at Harvard in 1976, graduating summa cum laude in just three years. He was an honors graduate of Harvard Law School, clerked under Justice Rehnquist, and worked in the Reagan Administration. His nomination is sure to be opposed by progressive groups because of a legal brief he signed in 1991 as Deputy Solicitor General under the elder President Bush. "We continue to believe that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided and should be overruled," said the brief, which argued in favor of a regulation banning abortion-related counseling by federally-funded family planning programs.
The spotlight will certainly be intensely focused on the issue of the legality of abortion in America in general, and the sustainability of Roe v Wade in particular. We believe this is an utter mistake, both for conservatives and for liberals. Those people who have made overturning Roe the litmus test for the morality of one's stance on abortion have vastly overstated the effect this ruling has had on abortion rates in America. Not even accounting for speculative estimates of the number of illegal abortions that occurred prior to 1973, the national abortion rates now (16/1000 women/year in 2001 according to the CDC) are lower than they were prior to Roe v Wade. One study has estimated that there were 829,000 illegal or self-induced abortions in the US in 1967 alone; the total legal abortions in 2002 were 1.29 million, with a population that was 40% larger. Overturning Roe is no Holy Grail when it comes to decreasing abortion in America.
Studies on abortions in Mississippi, which has among the most restrictive laws in the country and only a single abortion provider, have shown that the overall number of Mississippi women having abortions has remained unchanged. Such laws appear simply to have resulted in 60% of that state's women seeking abortions out-of-state. With the dramatic increases in non-surgical abortions in recent years (up 173% between 2000 and 2001, according to the CDC), any effort to outlaw abortion will likely result in substantial numbers of these procedures being done illegally with drugs like misoprostol that can be produced for pennies and sold for hundreds or thousands of dollars on the black market. No one disputes how poorly federal and state governments have succeeded in combating the use of illegal drugs in the United States.
In other words overturning Roe v Wade, with an anticipated change in a few state laws making abortions illegal, may have no effect on the number of abortions in America. It would serve primarily to give some social conservatives the satisfaction of knowing that "someone was being punished" for abortion—with substantial costs in maternal deaths, induced birth defects, and penal system dollars expended—without actually doing anything to reduce or stop the practice. There is no theological basis for using the threat of state power to impose a solution to any moral problem. Jesus never advocated using the coercive power of the state to accomplish what each of us must do in our own hearts.
Many Democrats who care both about the wellbeing of women and of their babies have been suckered into believing that Republican leaders are really opposed to abortion. A recent Guttmacher report begins, "With an Administration deeply opposed to abortion…" (http://www.alanguttmacher.org/pubs/ib_5-03.pdf), indicating an assumption that appears to have no basis in fact. The stated Republican opposition to abortion appears to be strictly tactical and rhetorical. Careful analysis of the four major pieces of legislation passed during the Bush years shows that none has had any measurable effect on abortion rates in the United States. The Administration has done no studies to understand why women choose to end their pregnancies. The data gathered by the CDC are typically almost three years late, poorly funded and incompletely gathered, and routinely released with no press coverage the night before the Thanksgiving holiday. This Administration fears that people will recognize what a straw man their expressed opposition to abortion really is. If anything, the evidence suggests that the Republican leadership is addicted to the dollars and political polarity that the abortion debate brings, and have a vested interest in never seeking any real solutions to the problem.
The rapid declines in abortion incidence during President Clinton's Administration were almost certainly a consequence of three factors: changing sexual practices in the era of HIV-transmission, the improved economic status of women, and changing social mores regarding abortion. These declines have substantially slowed under President Bush, according to new data published this summer by the Guttmacher Institute (http://www.alanguttmacher.org/media/nr/2005/05/19/index.html). Furthermore, analysis published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last Thanksgiving (http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss5309a1.htm) have shown an increase in teenage abortions in the US during the first year of the Bush Administration.
Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean said at the 2005 Massachusetts Democratic Convention, "I don't know anyone who is pro-abortion." As Catholics, advocating for both children and the parents who bear and raise them, we are working with Chairman Dean to construct a legislative and social program that truly does address the problem of abortion. Perhaps the debate over Judge Roberts' confirmation will help clarify how little the Republicans have done, by focusing exclusively on Roe v Wade, to address the angst that many people of conscience—perhaps especially we Catholics—feel about the continuing high rates of abortion in America. Perhaps it's too much to hope that additionally there will come a new appreciation of how little our society does to support young mothers today.
In the closing hours before the summer recess, the Senate passed an Energy Bill containing $14 billion in new subsidies to the oil and gas industry, at a time when they are enjoying record profits as a result of $60/barrel oil prices. With demand in the developing world rising fast, the profits to these industries are only going to continue to climb. But the oil executive-heavy Bush Administration couldn't resist the temptation to reward their friends, despite the ballooning budget deficit.
Similarly the Highway Bill passed the Senate, focused on expanding roads and bridges at the same time that Amtrak is fighting for its life. The benefits of good public transportation are so many: increased national productivity by reducing traffic delays; decreased air pollution; fewer traffic fatalities. But don't look to the $286.4 billion bill to actually solve any transportation problems. In fact, this bill represents another huge giveaway to friends of the Administration and to the Republican leadership in Congress. Mr. Bush claimed that he had succeeded in limiting the pork in the bill. But as Carl Hulse reported in the NY Times on 8/4/05, Congress managed to sneak an extra $8.5 billion into the bill and still meet the Administration's "demand" for fiscal responsibility, by requiring that the extra money be returned to the Treasury on the day the bill expires, on Sept. 30, 2009.
The giveaway to the gun industry at the end of session was truly breathtaking--mostly for all the young people who will die as a result of the potential for increased gun availability on the streets of US cities, and perhaps for US soldiers confronted with small arms that foreign conspirators will increasingly be able to buy in US markets. See Senator Kennedy's remarks in the Senate prior to the passage of this unconscionable bill.
Lastly, the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) passed the House by one vote, after a spree of Republican vote buying by the House leadership. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke on the floor July 27, 2005 about the reasons why every person of conscience should be opposed to an agreement that is likely to result in more poverty among both the workers of Central America and the manufacturing workers of America.
"Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to the Central American Free Trade Agreement. It is a small treaty economically, but it has enormous implications for our country. I oppose CAFTA because it is a step backward for workers in Central America and a job killer here at home. As a Californian, and there are many in the chamber this evening, we all know full well the significance of our close ties to Central America. My own City of San Francisco is blessed with large populations of Central Americans, including those who sought sanctuary from El Salvador and those fleeing decades of civil war in Guatemala.
Our fate is tied with our neighbors in the hemisphere. President John F. Kennedy recognized this in 1961, when he announced the Alliance for Progress, calling for 'vast multilateral programs to relieve the continent's poverty and social inequities.' The Alliance for Progress included both economic cooperation and called for economic reforms as conditions of participation, just as we call for stronger labor and environmental standards today as the reasonable condition for trade agreements.
Mr. Speaker, I wish that the CAFTA bill we are debating tonight was an agreement that opened markets, included basic labor standards, and protected our environment. This type of trade agreement would have lifted the economies of both the United States and Central America. It would have attracted support from a large number of Democratic Members who have long histories of supporting free and fair trade, including recent free trade agreements with Australia, Singapore, Chile, Morocco, Jordan, Vietnam and Cambodia.
Unfortunately, that is not that kind of trade agreement before us tonight. Instead, we are considering a trade agreement that promotes a race to the bottom that hurts U.S. workers, turns back the clock on basic internationally-accepted worker protections, and fails to protect the environment. As a result, the Republican leadership is having a hard time convincing its own Members how to vote for this bill. You have heard a colleague earlier, Mr. Brown talk about twisting arms until their broken into a thousand pieces. The gentleman from Florida, Mr. Shaw, referenced the New York Times so I will too, which this morning said that a White House official said that the last votes are likely to be won with the most expensive deals. We should be able to pass good, fair trade treaties on their merits. Instead the Administration is trying to persuade people with sidebars, side letters, and side deals. They have never worked in the past. They are just a con, and I hope our colleagues will not fall for the con.
In their desperation to win votes, the President and the Republican leadership in the House have also proclaimed that CAFTA will promote U.S. national security and democracy in Central America. The truth is, if we want to improve our national security and promote democracy there, we should heed the words of Pope Paul VI, who said: 'If you want peace, work for justice.' Trade alone, devoid of basic living and working standards, has not and will not promote security, nor will it lift developing nations out of poverty. Our national security will not be improved by exploiting workers in Central America.
Here at home, CAFTA threatens U.S. jobs by making it harder for American businesses and farmers to compete with countries that have excessively low wages and deficient working conditions. We have lost 2.8 million manufacturing jobs since President Bush took office. CAFTA doesn't solve the jobs problem; it only digs the hole deeper. These downward pressures create a race to the bottom that needlessly threatens U.S. jobs. Nothing in this agreement will help raise substandard wages in Central America or help create a strong middle class that has the disposable income to buy U.S. goods.
Democrats understand the need to help our Central American neighbors reap the benefits of increased trade, but the costs of this CAFTA are too high with too little to justify this agreement's deficiencies. We must have basic worker protections, which ensure that our trading partners abide by the most fundamental standards of common decency and fairness. The CAFTA we are debating today fails to promote these basic measures of decency and fairness. And, in fact, it takes a step backward from current law because it removes the requirement from these countries to abide by the worker's rights standards of the international labor organization.
"When it comes to the environment, Democrats believe that environmental principles must be a central part of a core trade agreement. CAFTA will do absolutely nothing to improve environmental protection in Central America, and it will open up our own environmental laws to attack by foreign corporations. My colleagues this CAFTA allows multinational corporations to sue governments, including our own, for compensation if the environmental laws reduce the value of their investment or cuts into their profits. CAFTA places no value on the environmental health of the Americas. Moreover, the enforcement provision in this CAFTA is virtually nonexistent. It merely calls for CAFTA countries to enforce their own laws. Enforcement in these areas must be written into CAFTA if they are to be effective – they are not.
Mr. Speaker, Democrats believe that to keep America in the lead the nation must adopt a bold, new, and sustained commitment to technological innovation and educational excellence. That commitment would ensure that our country remains competitive and vibrant against formidable international competition, generating high quality jobs throughout the 21st century. We are committed to addressing the challenges of an increasingly competitive global market. Our economic future rests on our ability to innovate new products and to create new markets for those goods and services. We insist that this Administration revisit its flawed trade policy and work with Democrats so that we can pass free trade agreements including a new and improved CAFTA that expands markets, spur economic growth, protect the environment, and raise living standards in the U.S. and abroad. That would allow us to move forward with our other priorities. Mr. Speaker, American families are facing serious challenges: rising health care costs, record gas prices, climbing college costs, and massive job layoffs. They are worried about the direction of our country
Instead of addressing the serious issues that directly affect America's families and coming up with real solutions, Republicans have abused their power and focused on the wrong priorities -- pursuing an energy bill that does nothing to lower gas prices, or a Social Security privatization plan that weakens the safety net for America's elderly. Sadly, this trade agreement and the way it has been pursued by the Administration has become yet another example of those misplaced priorities and missed opportunities.
President Kennedy said in 1961 that the United States and Latin America are "firm and ancient friends, united by history and experience and by our determination to advance the values of American civilization…We must support all economic integration, which is a genuine step toward larger markets and greater competitive opportunity." It was true then, it is an inspiration now. I urge my colleagues to send this CAFTA back to the drawing board. The Administration can negotiate a new CAFTA that would open markets, include basic labor standards, and protect our environment. Such an agreement would attract strong bipartisan support. This CAFTA does none of the above. It does not protect the environment, it does not grow the economy in our country, it does not lift the living standards in Central America, and it does not have my support. Vote 'no' on this CAFTA."
"Justice Sunday II" purported to represent a new ecumenism, bringing together Catholics, Protestants and Jews in a united effort to frame the concerns of religious people as the Senate prepares for its first Supreme Court confirmation process in eleven years. But like the vastly inflated estimate of a Super Bowl-sized audience of 79 million households, this broadcast was long on self-congratulation and short on substance.
Below is a full transcript of William Donohue's remarks Sunday night, August 14, for this broadcast before a small crowd in Nashville. The audience repeatedly rose to its feet as this Heritage Foundation-supported head of the New York-based Catholic League focused entirely on abortion, with a mention of Mrs. Terri Schiavo. It is notable that, like the Bush Administration, Mr. Donohue's group has done virtually nothing to decrease the number of abortions in America.
The Catholic component in particular turned into an exercise in substance-free bombast from Dr. Donohue, whose brief speech might best be described as a tirade. He started out by bashing Irish Catholics and ended by bragging about what a threat he perceives himself to be to the left, apparently unaware of the eerie dissociation evident in one who threatens in the name of Christianity.
Aside from the vague references to abortion, there was no mention of any values that Catholics and our Bishops hold dear. No discussion of wage stagnation for the lower and middle classes, the killing in Iraq, gun violence, or the threat of global warming. There was nothing substantive on abortion, other than repetition of the same misleading stereotype – that the right is moral and the left is not. There was no mention of the rights of immigrants, minorities or those in need. The 40 million Americans without healthcare were overlooked.
Donohue chose rather to show his true extremist colors by referring to Marxist/atheist Sidney Hook as the heroic influence for a plan to essentially strip the Supreme Court of its role in maintaining legislative fidelity to the Constitution. Donohue suggested that the Constitution be amended to require a unanimous decision by the Supreme Court to overturn any law passed by Congress. Never mind First Amendment rights to free speech, the problem is a loose cannon like Donohue speaking to matters of the Constitution as if he is a spokesman for the Catholic Church.
When we speak as Catholics, our inspiration should reside in the Gospels rather than in the utopian schemes, dressed up in religious clothing, of secular political theorists or of the Heritage Foundation. Donohue's claim to speak for all people of faith, in some pitched battle with "the secular left," should be recognized for what it is: one ideologically extreme position, offensive to many faithful Catholics, that worships at the altar of a very secular creed.
Dr. William Donohue, Justice Sunday II, Sunday 14 August 2005
What a pleasure to be here. I feel like I'm really at home. If I had a choice of a room full of Ted Kennedy Irish Catholics like myself and people like you, I'll take you any day.
And the bishop is right. White or black, Protestant or Catholic, Orthodox Jew, we're fed up, we're on the same side. And if the secular left is worried, they should be worried
You know, we got involved in this issue with Judge Pryor a few years ago. And one of my senators, Senator Schumer, was talking about-as Al Mohler said here-"We were wondering about your deeply held beliefs." Well Pryor, unlike Kennedy, happens to be a believer in the Church's teachings on abortion. Deeply held belief is code, people; we all know what it means. It's deeply held "religious" beliefs. And so, Kennedy says "I can't be anti-Catholic…" and Leahy says the same thing, and Durbin says the same thing, "…because I'm Catholic." Oh yes you can. If you reject the teachings of the Catholic Church on abortion, and you raise the bar so high that nobody can jump over it except Catholics like you, Kennedy, then we do have a problem with it. And so they do discriminate."
We have never said that there are Senators who are anti-Christian or anti-Catholic bigots per se. What we've said is this: there isn't a de jure discrimination, but there is de facto. In other words, you've raised the bar so high that you've made it impossible for us to get on the federal bunch. That's a veiled very cute way of saying that there's no place for you.
And you know what I'd like to see…I studied under Sidney Hook, not a member of the religious right, he was a Jewish atheist, and he had a tremendous impact on me in many different ways, a great philosopher. And Sidney Hook noticed this back in 1961. He said, "If you want to do something about judicial activism, you better take a look at the way the court has evolved. Even beginning with the first Supreme Court Justice John Marshall, it was understood that this branch was supposed to be a co-equal. It wasn't supposed to have a veto-proof position the way it has evolved. What he recommended, and I'd like to recommend a national discussion on this issue right now. We need a discussion: do we need a constitutional amendment which would say this: No act of Congress can be overturned by the Supreme Court unless it's a unanimous decision. That'll stop judicial activism right in its track.
You know that may be the micro issue, with this whole business of filibustering. But at the macro level, you know what's at stake. They basically have the attitude, at least with regard to Catholics, their attitude is ‘Tend to little old ladies in the church; let them worry about their rosaries. Don't get involved with the public.' No, we will get involved. We will be disobedient altar boys. We will get involved in our society. And we won't be told to shut-up and give it over to the secular left. Who are they to say that I don't have a right to freedom of speech? That's mentioned in the First Amendment to the Constitution. It's your free speech too. It's everybody's free speech.
And let me tell you something. I resent these remarks, this cacophony of catcalls. They can't deal with us in a democratic way. Senator Frist is absolutely right, "Keep it civil." What do they do? They say, ‘We're going to have a theocracy.' They said the same thing when Bush got elected: ‘We're going to have a theocratic state.' What are we, the Taliban?! These people! They claim to be the high priests of tolerance. And yet they practice intolerance against us. They want to set us up as if we're the radicals.
Let me tell you, and it's not just Catholics and Protestants. Some Orthodox Jews the other day have set up an organization last Thursday, Don Fenner and others, to fight against anti-Christian sentiment in this country. And I asked them, "Why as Jews are you concerned about this issue?" And they said, "Well you know what, to the extent that Christianity is disparaged, that voice, that pro-life voice and this opposition to the most insane idea I ever heard of in my whole life, of two men getting married, I mean what do you…that's something that I expect in the asylum, quite frankly! Look, they're not going to stop us from speaking on this. And these Orthodox Jews have said we have to fight anti-Christian bigotry in this country because if Christians can't get that voice out there in favor of marriage and family and life--the life of a child to be born, and the life of Terri Schiavo to have feeding tubes. Then we're all finished. And so they understand it. Alright? In other words, we've got traditional Catholics, we have Evangelical Protestants, we have Orthodox Jews, and those people on the secular left, they say, "Well, we think you're a threat." Well you know what? They're right. Thank you.
At some level, all Christians understand that God is love. This is why the Rev. Pat Robertson, granted special authority to speak on matters of religion, made news with his televised remarks last month calling for the murder of the democratically elected leader of Venezuela. The loudest voices in American religion, the Heritage Foundation-associated Catholic League and Focus on the Family, were completely silent on this opportunity to explore the central imperative of our Christian faith—the call to love, rather than to hate.
Somehow it seems fitting that the Administration's response has been a similar collective eye-rolling rather than rejection. The White House website says nothing. Mr. Bush and his press secretary have not commented on the matter. A State Department spokesman merely labeled Mr. Robertson's remarks "inappropriate." Secretary Donald Rumsfield responded to them by saying, "Certainly it's against the law. Our department doesn't do that type of thing."
The fact of the matter, however, is that Mr. Robertson and Mr. Bush share an advocacy for assassination. Mr. Bush's press secretary called in October 2002 for killing Saddam Hussein, stating, "Regime change is welcome in whatever form that it takes." In November that year, Mr. Bush assassinated an American citizen and five other people in their car in Yemen, using a CIA drone-fired missile. On March 19, 2003 Mr. Bush ordered a cruise missile assassination attempt against Hussein and his family, which was unsuccessful. Thus, Secretary Rumsfield's remarks this week about targeted killing were false; add possibly hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties in Iraq, and killing that putatively advances US petroleum interests appears to have become official US policy. Like the Middle East, Venezuela currently provides a significant chunk of US oil imports, and Mr. Bush's distaste for Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez is well-known.
In the final analysis, Mr. Bush and Mr. Robertson are both ‘ends-justify-the-means' Christians, perfectly comfortable with violence and killing when it suits their purposes. But as the Biblical scholar John L. McKenzie wrote, "No reader of the New Testament, simple or sophisticated, can retain any doubt of Jesus' position toward violence directed to persons, individual or collective, organized or free enterprise: He rejected it."
Pope Benedict spoke in a German synagogue last month about "neo-paganists" who purported to follow Christianity, but had no qualms about killing. The anguished cry of a Cindy Sheehan and 1900 other American families will help us to clarify our thinking regarding the faulty notion that launching wars is the way to solve our problems. But perhaps we need the Robertsons of the world to reveal the hypocrisy that now prevails, and to put the Christ back into Christianity on this most central issue: the value of every life.
The writer, of Omaha, is a founding member of Catholic Democrats of Nebraska, which stresses links between Democratic Party ideals and Catholic social teachings.
A generation ago, the term "Catholic Democrat" seemed almost redundant. If you were Catholic, few asked about your politics. It was understood. Today, we find a completely different political landscape in which Catholics have become a powerful, dependable voting bloc for the Republican Party.
This swift conversion is partially the result of a wellplanned, well-executed strategy by political conservatives that uses the issue of abortion to create a wedge between practicing Catholics and the Democratic Party. By portraying the Republican Party as the "pro-life party," conservatives have successfully recruited Catholics who strongly believe in protecting the unborn.
The primacy of the abortion issue, however, is unique to these Catholic voters. The political reality is that ending or even limiting abortion is not a priority for the Republican Party.
Republican strategists seem to believe that the polarizing effect of the abortion issue is a very potent political tool and can continue to be the wedge that drives Catholics away from the Democratic Party. It could be argued that the last thing the Republican political machine wants is an end to abortion, for along with it would go the Catholic vote. That might sound harsh, but the facts about abortion indicate that Catholics who vote Republican based on the single issue of abortion get nothing in return.
The number of U.S. abortions declined steadily under the Clinton administration, reaching a 24-year low as George W. Bush took office in 2001. What has happened since is the source of much debate, with pro-life and pro-choice groups arguing over statistics provided by Glen Howard Stassen, the Alan Guttmacher Institute and the Centers for Disease Control.
But what is absolutely clear is that, unlike the Clinton administration, the Bush administration has simply taken the position that abortion is wrong without paying any attention to its root causes - poverty, unemployment, skyrocketing health-care costs and teen pregnancy, among others.
The Democratic Party has hurt itself by refusing to budge on the abortion issue. Liberal Democrats have managed to merge the pro-choice and women's-rights issues, making any dissent on abortion appear to be an attack on gender equality. Such narrow-minded thinking has only helped Republicans siphon off pro-life Democrats.
If the current Catholic voting trend is to be reversed, the Democratic Party must revert to the "big tent" philosophy of the past that promoted inclusiveness and allowed for dissension among the ranks on issues such as abortion.
Where does a Catholic find the Church's teaching on the sanctity of life and its application to our social and political world?
"Faithful Citizenship," issued in 2003 by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, applies Catholic social teaching to major political, social and economic issues and provides Catholics the "consistent moral framework" necessary to responsibly participate in our democracy. A consistent pro-life message resonates throughout the document. The bishops make clear the Catholic Church's opposition to abortion, euthanasia and the death penalty. But they do not stop there.
"Faithful Citizenship" extends its pro-life position to a wide array of issues concerning human dignity: supporting the right of workers to a just wage, decent working conditions and the right to organize without reprisal; ensuring adequate and affordable health care for our most vulnerable populations; eradicating hunger and poverty at home and abroad through government aid; fixing the problems of the judicial system to reduce crime and violence; eliminating discrimination through affirmative action; and promoting peace in the Middle East and Africa through proactive diplomacy.
These positions are not radical ideas set forth by some "liberal" think tank. Rather, they are the fundamental teachings of the Catholic Church. The message of the bishops in "Faithful Citizenship" is entirely consonant with that of pro-life Democrats. Pro-life Democrats must seek out those Catholics who have abandoned the party and challenge them to examine what the church says about the key social, political and economic issues of these times.
What they will find is that the consistent ethic of life that should be the guiding principle in how a Catholic votes can be found only in the growing pro-life movement within the Democratic Party. It is then up to all Democrats to welcome Catholics home.
Catholics are called first and foremost to care for one another. The poverty of my neighbor is something that Jesus has called us to rectify, indicating unambiguously that those of us who fail to do so "shall pass on to eternal punishment, and the just to eternal life. (Mt 25:46)"
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi released the following statement on the Census Bureau’s report that the nation's poverty rate climbed to 12.7% of the population last year, rising for the fourth year in a row; the number of uninsured increased; and median household income failed to grow.
Since President Bush took office, 5.4 million more Americans are living in poverty, 6 million more are without health insurance, and families are stretched too thin as household incomes have declined by almost $1,700 in the last four years. Every segment of American society has seen their income decline under this Administration, with the middle class and working families are losing the most ground.
Leader Pelosi said, "President Bush and the Republicans in Congress are turning a deaf ear to the middle class and working families struggling to make ends meet. This report shows that the President and Republicans in Congress’ decision to increase the deficit, while slashing student loans, heath care programs, and food stamps are the wrong choices for the American people. Republicans should abandon these efforts and join Democrats to expand opportunity for every American."
When President Bush took office, the number of uninsured had decreased for the first time in 12 years, and the economy was booming. Today, the Census Bureau announced that real household income has decreased again slightly 2004, falling for the fourth year in a row. More than 1.1 million people fell out of the middle class into poverty into 2003, an increase of 5.4 million people living in poverty since the beginning of the Bush Administration. Despite this drop in income and increase in health care and gas prices, Republicans are still not listening to or addressing the struggles of middle-class families. Instead, they are focused on helping the special interests. Democrats are fighting to help middle class families with an economic plan that benefits all Americans.
Real household income falls for the fourth year in a row, dropping slightly in 2004. This represents a decline in median household income of $1,669 since the beginning of the Bush Administration, meaning that middle class families are falling further and further behind economically. And the reality is that every segment of American society has seen their income decline under this administration, with those in the middle-class and working families losing the most ground. For example, households in the middle income bracket have lost 4.0 percent of their income, and households in the poorest 20 percent of the population have lost 7.9 percent of their income, while households with the highest incomes lost only 2.9 percent of their income.
Men working full-time see their earnings drop below 2000 levels. Perhaps one of the more disappointing results is what has happened to earnings for full-year full-time workers. Between 2003 and 2004, the median earnings for men working full-time declined by $963 – putting their median earnings below 2000 levels. Women working full time saw their median earnings decline by $327.
Minority families’ real household income continues to suffer under the Bush Administration. The typical African American family’s inflation-adjusted income has fallen by $2,273 since the beginning of the Bush Administration, and the typical Hispanic family’s inflation-adjusted income fell $2,141.
Number of people living in poverty increased by 1.1 million in 2004. About 1.1 million people fell out of the middle class into poverty into 2004, an increase of 5.4 million people living in poverty since the beginning of the Bush Administration.
17.8 percent of American children lived in poverty during 2004. Almost 13 million children were living in poverty in 2004, up from last year and an increase of about 1.4 million since the beginning of the Bush Administration.
Minorities disproportionately live in poverty. About 25 percent of all African Americans (9.4 million) were living in poverty in 2004. About 22 percent (9.1 million) of Hispanic Americans were living in poverty.
"Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America: They will be met.
"On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.
"On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics."
First Inaugural Address, President Barack Obama