URGENT: Stop conservatives before they kill again...

Conservative economic policies are eating middle-class Americans alive – and killing us, too. For any society to work, people’s basic needs have to be met, whether they have a job or not, and whether the economy is in an upswing or a downswing. As FDR laid out in his Second Bill of Rights, those basic needs include things like access to food, healthcare, housing, education and gainful employment. Unfortunately, thanks to 34 years of failed Reaganomics policies, the ability of Americans to meet those most basic of needs has all but disappeared.

A new report out from the Center for American Progress (CAP) highlights just how big a hit America’s middle-class families have taken from conservative economic policies. As CAP points out, for a typical middle-class married couple with two children, the combined costs of healthcare, day care, housing and savings for college and retirement increased a staggering 32% between 2000 and 2012.

As result, it’s become next to impossible for middle-class families to do some of the most basic of things, including having a place to call home. Housing costs have increased 28% over the past 12 years, meaning that fewer and fewer families can afford to purchase a home and build equity in it in preparation for retirement. And, Americans’ are also unable to buy a home and take on a mortgage because they’re taking 20 years to pay off the mountains of student loan debt they’re graduating college with.

While owning a house has become next to impossible for the American middle class, renting a house isn’t exactly a bargain either. Over half of renters in American spend 30% or more of their total income on housing, leaving less and less money for other essentials.

Meanwhile, as Americans are struggling to buy homes and start families in them, they’re also struggling to save up for their children’s college educations. According to the CAP report, the average amount of money that a middle-class family with two kids has to save for college education skyrocketed by 39% between 2000 and 2012. And, the cost of an education from a four-year public college or university increased by a staggering 86% during that same time period.

But the high costs of housing and higher education for middle-class families pale in comparison to the outrageously high costs of healthcare in this country. Even with Obamacare, Americans are still struggling to pay for the healthcare they need to survive.

The CAP report found that between 2002 and 2012, average out-of-pocket healthcare costs for a family of four with an employer-provided health plan increased by a whopping 85 percent. Middle-class Americans also have to use more and more of their take-home pay for medical expenses.

In 2000, healthcare expenses accounted for 5.4% of Americans’ overall spending. Last year, 7.1% of Americans’ take-home pay went to healthcare expenses. And, it’s these high healthcare costs that are literally killing people. People like Charlene Dill.

Back in March, Charlene Dill, a hardworking single mom who worked three jobs to help make ends meet, collapsed and died from an untreated heart condition. Like approximately 750,000 other Floridians stuck in the Red State doughnut-hole, Charlene knew she was sick and needed medication, but couldn’t get it, because Florida’s Republican governor, Rick Scott, refused to expand Medicaid under Obamacare, and she couldn’t afford to pay out-of-pocket.

Meanwhile, while the costs of healthcare, housing, education and other expenses have soared for middle-class families over the past decade, median household income has fallen by 8%. So, there you have it.

Thirty-four years of failed Reaganomics polices have decimated the American middle class, to the point where Americans can’t even meet their most basic of needs. Americans can’t put roofs over their heads, put their kids through college, pay for life-saving healthcare, or save up for retirement. This is simply wrong.

We need to get the middle-class back on track. That starts by introducing trade policies that protect American jobs, tax policies that even the playing field, healthcare policies that make life-saving healthcare more affordable, and education policies that make a college education a reality instead of a pipedream for millions of Americans.

It’s time to repudiate Reaganomics, so the American middle class can make a comeback.


dianhow 8 years 35 weeks ago

Re Nov 4 th election. As a former Moderate GOP voter (of which no longer exist ) I fear the worst , but hope for a miracle. Millions of voters do not care- have given up- are too busy- are hopeless - are skeptics are Fox Hannity Rush Drudge loyal fans to bother to vote and or become informed. I am 71. In my lifetime I've seen GOP do a 180 . From moderates like Ike to far right wing anti middle class anti women Corp War loving GOP suck ups. I am beyond depressed..but I will VOTE nontheless . I owe it to those who fought & died for that right . We must repeaL Glass Steagal- Citizens United- Clinton was wrong to pass NAFTA CAFTA GATT much of it at GOP & Greenspans urging. Money is NOT sppech . If it is Those without money have Less of a VOICE. Corps are Not persons. Our right wing anti middle class Supreme Court makes wealth favoring laws . GOP ' leaders' fights for more CORP cuts, loopholes, subsides . privatizing SS , our oldage safety net which we paid for all our working lifes.

GOP & Bush pushed hard to give our SS to Wall St to gamble away

NO WAY we know how Greedy corrupt Wall St operates .

stecoop01's picture
stecoop01 8 years 35 weeks ago

I can only hope that RayGuns is burning in Hell. Or better still, suffering from hunger, homelessness and untreated, and very painful, health problems

BMetcalfe's picture
BMetcalfe 8 years 35 weeks ago

What truly saddens me is that during the past 9 years, many of the Middle Class families who once were the most generous donators to our local food bank, are now living on one income instead of two; quite often these families are finding themselves short of the money and food to donate, as well as the ability to feed their own families healthy meals. Many have already dipped into their children's college funds, or their retirement savings. The person who is still employed is working longer hours to prove worthy of job retention, with no overtime. And quite frequently they must come to the food banks they once proudly helped stock.

Employer provided healthcare has been severely eroded. IF the still-employed family member is lucky enough to have it for the entire family, the costs being deducted from his/her salary are elevated... which means even less money coming home in a paycheck.

We desperately need to raise the wages for people who are now forced to take jobs meant for college people, and minimum wage does NOT support a family. They are the working-themselves-to-death POOR, with no access to healthcare, and often not quite poor enough to guanantee they can qualify for county or state relief. God forbid that any of them still actually own a home and become ill. Medical debts become a lien against whatever property they have managed to hang onto. And there is no guarantee they can ever catch up.

We always find the money to wage war, but Congress has no sympathy for those who come home wounded and disabled. We have the best healthcare in the world, but many states refuse to expand Medicaid, and those who need medical treatment cannot get it. Our children are still getting pregnant at ridiculous ages, but many states don't want them educated about birth control, or to get abortions when it's the best thing to do, because it's the girl's fault - she should have said no just one more time, not worn that particular outfit, not walked down that street, or just kept her legs together tighter. I'm sure they feel the same way about grown women of child-bearing age. And God calls it murder.

What's wrong with America? It's not simply Reagonomics, although that's a large part of it. It's the refusal of Congress to hear the American peoples' cries for more help and less bombs, or their cries for less gridlock and more bipartisanship. Both Houses seem more determined to demean our President, overall, than represent the people who pay their salaries and healthcare costs. What an ungrateful bunch of greedy, political thugs!

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 8 years 35 weeks ago

Ms. Metcalfe, great post. My only disagreement is with your comment that ours is the “best healthcare in the world”. Gosh I hope not. The number of deaths in this country, just from hospital-borne infections, is pretty sobering. I did a quick google search, locating Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, where I found the data for 2011. 722,000 “healthcare-associated infections” (as they are called) occurred in the United States that year, resulting in 75,000 deaths. That’s even more deaths caused by hospital-borne infections than from lack of access to healthcare in this country! Wow-we.

Recently this happened to someone I know, a man in his late fifties. I’ll call him Stan. Stan was recovering from surgery and unsteady on his feet, using a walker to get around. Maybe a week after he got home from the hospital, Stan took a nasty fall and cut his head pretty bad. So he went back to the local hospital for stitches, returning home with his head bandaged up. When Stan eventually removed the bandage, he discovered the stitched wound infected, requiring additional treatment.

Gee, I wonder if these unfortunate souls are forced to pay for the additional treatments necessitated by hospital error, ineptitude and neglect.

And just to further my point, I learned from Thom Hartmann that a woman is twice as likely to die in childbirth here compared with women in Canada.

I think this whole healthcare situation in the U.S. is outrageous. We're paying more than anyone on the planet for heathcare, and this is what we’re getting. And for what purpose? Just to create and maintain a parasitic class of billionaires, living high and mighty on their ill-gotten gains while we and those we care about suffer and die. Unnecessarily and avoidably. So you see, everytime I hear someone call this the “best healthcare in the world”, I cringe while my head explodes.

Sorry Ms. M, I’m not trying to detract from your thoughtfully written overview of our collective predicament. But this “uniquely American” brand of healthcare is a disgrace. Just "callin' a spade a spade"... - AIW

Kend's picture
Kend 8 years 35 weeks ago

Alice you do have the best healthcare in the world. But only if you have money. It is sad but true.

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 8 years 35 weeks ago

Kend ~ Healthcare is measured by the care the sickest person gets--not the richest. Get real!

David in Vegas's picture
David in Vegas 8 years 35 weeks ago

Thom, once again you place all the blame on Reagan and his policies that are not being pushed by any politician; haven't been active since GHWB. Your arguments are absurd.

Education costs have skyrocketed because of the greedy leftists running higher education have driven up the cost because leftists in Washington keep dumping money into student loan programs. The students pay the price of this giant money laundering scheme.

Healthcare costs are reflective of government intrusion into the market that has driven the costs up since the inception of medicare in the 60's. These are all left-wing policies that drive up the costs by removing market forces (shoppers shopping for price/value) and replacing them with bureacracies that grow in power as they spend ever more public monies.

Your socialism does not work, never has, never will. We have survived thus far because we out-produced your idiocy. But BHO is putting an end to that with Obamacare and restructuring the workplace/workweek to force his version of 'healthcare' upon an unsuspecting public.

Kend's picture
Kend 8 years 35 weeks ago

DAnne believe me I was just stating a fact. I do not like it I think it is horrible.

Yesterday someone asked me if I like the healthcare in the US soo much why don't I move there. The truth is I tried. Back in the 80's I was offered a job in Texas in the oil business. My Visa was denied. But hopefully within five years I will be spending my winters down there. I purchased a home in Scottsdale AZ to get out of these horrible winters. I challenge any of you to spend a winter up here. I will warn you though you will may turn into a climate change denier

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 8 years 35 weeks ago

David in Vegas, I beg to differ. Nothing “absurd” about explaining a connection between Ray-gun’s corrosive, anti-labor, kleptofascist policies and what we’re dealing with now, in its various forms. The senile actor is dead, but his policies live on. Quite the contrary, sir, it is YOUR explanation for the rising cost of education that is patently absurd. “Greedy leftists"?! Gimmie a break. Were our colleges and universities part of tax-supported infrastructure here, as in other countries, there would be no need for student loan programs because nobody would have to get sucked into this carnivorous debt trap just getting themselves educated. You say socialism doesn’t work when we haven’t even tried it! Meanwhile everything these privatizers touches turns to shit: education, healthcare, the internet, our "fair and balanced" media (not!)…. Need I go on? So please enlighten me: on what, exactly, do you base this stridently vacuous defense of corporate crony capitalism?! Come on, humor me. - AIW

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 8 years 35 weeks ago

Dianhow, I was never even a GOP moderate. But I feel your pain.

RichardofJeffersonCity's picture
RichardofJeffer... 8 years 35 weeks ago

The problem with Thom's analysis is that doesn't take into consideration, that the Democratic Party is just as responsible for our nation state of affairs. The Democrats are just as pro business and anti-working class as the Republicans; the main difference is approach. Democrats still play to working class, the Republicans can careless.

Until there is a collective effort from the citizenry of the US, there will be no significant lasting change in the US. The Clinton and Obama administration have mirrored the Reagan administration in many ways. Not to recognize this is simply bias and denial.

Clinton and Obama at times have gone beyond what the Reagan administration could've ever dreamed of achieving during the Grippers' reign. Until commentators like Thom, whom I believe is a good man, can start to come to grips, with the collusive nature of the Democratic Party, with the wealth interest of the US, there is just going to be repeated dissappointment with the political results.

I personally don't believe there is a poltical solution, but I'm just one monkey slinging pooh; We'd need a lot more pooh slingers if we really want to make a mess of things. Thom, it's time to calibrate your pooh, and sling it at both equally corrupt parties.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 8 years 35 weeks ago

I agree, Richard. I don’t recall a time when the Democrats reliably had our backs. What Reagan started, every president since him has perpetuated, regardless of party affiliation; even Clinton and Obama, those Democrat presidents I actually voted for. With regret.

Instead of creating a stronger social safety net for us; instead of building an infrastructure in this country that is up-to-date, reliable and safe; instead of a more equitable work environment, for the majority of us not enjoying a free ride, and instead of putting the reins on capitalism before it became cannibalistic, our so-called "leaders" have been too obsessed with foreign policy to actually do the work of running this country. So what we get for our hard-earned tax dollars is endless war, the worst manifestation of capitalism, at its cannabalistic extreme. War for “U.S. interests” translates to Big Oil interests, not the interests of the American people.

We need another party. Either that, or we need to dump the corporatists out of the so-called “Democratic” party and give it a major overhaul, so that it lives up to its name. Something I have not seen in my lifetime.

With due respect, Thom, I'll say it again: that Republicans are toxic and worthless as legislators is a given. But with few exceptions, the Democrats have also been complicit. It's time we call them out too, and your voice is much louder than ours. What we have now is Republican and Republican Lite. - AIW

DHBranski's picture
DHBranski 8 years 35 weeks ago

With all due respect (and I do have a lot of respect for Thom Hartmann), that's part of the story. The Clinton Dems rolled out NAFTA, causing the significant loss of working class jobs, and wiped out the Great Society (welfare) as a necessary step toward ending the New Deal (Social Security). Fewer jobs, more people desperate for any job at any wage -- the consequences were inevitable. The middle class continues to be phased out. The overall life expectancy of US poor fell by over five years since Clinton. Such a deterioration would normally be considered a national crisis. To grasp the results of our "war on the poor" on a broader scale: The overall quality of life in the US was rated at #1 when Reagan was first elected. By the time Obama was elected, after we had gotten rid of those "failed social programs," the overall quality of life in the US had plunged to #43. Meanwhile, the only response from libs is the call for job creation (as we've been doing for over 30 years already...) You can't buy a loaf of bread with promises of eventual jobs. You can't get a job once you no longer have a home address, phone, bus fare. You can't save (much less, rebuild) the middle class without restoring those policies and programs that had created the massive middle class we once had.

DHBranski's picture
DHBranski 8 years 35 weeks ago

Hi. Actually, it was the middle class that demanded the end to poverty relief, and "New Democrat" (as he called them) Bill Clinton who obliged them. In defiance of all logic, they insisted that those families who were trying to get on their feet on $4 - $5k (annual) welfare aid were "living better than the middle class," and middle class resentment of the poor was nurtured. By contrast, President Obama restored the disability aid that had been slashed by Clinton (an issue that failed to catch the fancy of bourgeois libs), saving much suffering, many lives. The (Clinton) Dems in Congress have quietly obstructed the president ever since. Dems and libs censored the poverty crisis out of the public discussion. As Dem pols know, it's impossible to save (much less, rebuild) the middle class without shoring up the poor, and the Party is fine with letting people think otherwise.

N Z Sarah's picture
N Z Sarah 8 years 35 weeks ago

I would expect nothing less from an unchecked male dominated regime such as we have with the world governments. Get behind He for She and support Equal Gender Representation for a balanced world.

DHBranski's picture
DHBranski 8 years 35 weeks ago

Alice, sure we tried it, and the more socialism we implemented into our policies during any given era, the more successful the nation was. Under socialism, taxpayers collectively cover the costs of those things needed for the common good. This includes everything from schools to roads, the military to Social Security, police and fire depts., etc. The more we phase out socialism (as we've been doing since the 1980s), the less gets funded, the more the nation deteriorates, no longer able to successfully compete with the modern nations. Because of the results socialist poilicies and programs, the US was rated at #1 in overall quality of life when Reagan was first elected. Largely because of our anti-poor agenda since then (and poverty does trickle up), the overall quality of life had plunged to #43 by the time Obama was elected.

DHBranski's picture
DHBranski 8 years 35 weeks ago

To understand what the (Clinton) Dems actually did, review our history. This isn't the first time the richest few took power over our politics and policies, to the harm of the nation (Great Depression, etc.). Here is something that, interestingly, Newt Gingrich addressed in some of his talks years ago: Each time in the past, the poor and middle class, workers and the jobless, ultimately united to push back -- to everyone's (and the nation's) benefit. That can't happen this time. The only way to bring the "Reagan Revolution" to fruition, as Gingrich pointed out, was to pit the middle class against the poor, workers against the jobless. Bill Clinton's New Democrats (as he labelled them) very successfully did just that. Divide and conquer. Millions of the poor, and those who get why unrelieved poverty is wiping out the country, voted for Obama in hopes that he could launch a legit public discussion about our poverty crisis (and how it serves to phase out the middle class, for better or worse). He tried, Dems and lib media aren't interested. Lib media continues to nurture the elitism of the better off, middle class consumers and campaign donors.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 8 years 35 weeks ago

Branski, with respect to YOU (as I agree more than disagree with your premise, by a wide margin), I have to ask you: by what measure was the overall quality of life in the U.S. #1 in the world prior to Reagan? Since WWII Europe’s social safety net has left ours in the dust.

Perhaps my assertion (post #9) that we’ve “never” tried socialsim was overstated. Once upon a time long, long ago, we had state-supported schools, not for-profit charters. While our healthcare system has never been single payer, in any form, it was at least nonprofit for a time. And for the foreseeable future (knock on wood!), our property and/or state taxes continue paying for roads, bridges and other transportation-related infrastructure. Ditto law enforcemnt (state taxes). I get that. The military, however, is another matter, already having been privatized to some degree.

You certainly don’t have to convince me what a prick Clinton was, by the way.

I still cringe at your reference to “Lib” media when all I see are neo-con (aka “neolib”) talking heads on the idiot box. - AIW

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 8 years 35 weeks ago

D'Anne Marc, Kend was agreeing with us.

The sadder fact is that Americans will, incredibly, vote for the Republicans again - and with greater zeal than before - either because they are - sorry to say - too stupid not to or out of some bait taking of divisiveness by voting against someone else because they are of another race, gender, socio-economic class, sexual orientation, etc. instead of for themselves.

Also, the two party duopoly causes people, when they vote against an incumbent out of dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs, to go from "the frying pan to the fire".

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 8 years 35 weeks ago

"Liberals" are of a softer line of the same thing as the rest of the bourgeouisie. They only advocate a "more merciful" approach to the domination and exploitation of the working people by their class - and with a little granola from the health food store. They sure don't want the working people gaining power, not in relation to themselves and their own...

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 8 years 35 weeks ago

Dave in Vegas, I don't know if Thom's socialism works but I know of many forms that do - and quite well..

Robindell's picture
Robindell 8 years 35 weeks ago

If our government is to help more people in more ways, it is not just legislation in Congress that would be involved. The government is not organized in such a way as to have agencies that are willing and able to respond to existent needs in sufficiently reponsive, professional, logic ways. I know someone who works for a federal agency who complains of excessive bureaucracy and inflexibility in trying to get things done. In the Chicago area, there are accusations that Edward Hines Jr. Hospital, which is the largest VA facility in the metropolitan area, has a secret waiting list which has been used to make it seem as if patients are being seen more promptly than actually has been the case. A fire at the Aurora, IL FAA air traffic control center set by a disgruntled arsonist closed down Chicago's two airports for a day and threw off flight schedules at many connecting airports. There wasn't an adequate backup system or plan to prevent these temporary cancellations. What is needed is not just political reform, but also educational reform and government functioning and administrative reforms.

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