Americans Believe Our Economy is Broken


According to new polling by the Center for American Progress:

Nearly two in three Americans (64 percent) agree that “Most people who live in poverty are poor because their jobs don’t pay enough, they lack good health care and education, and things cost too much for them to save and get ahead.” By contrast, only 25 percent of Americans agree with a competing idea that “Most people who live in poverty are poor because they make bad decisions or act irresponsibly in their own lives.” Even white conservatives and libertarians prefer the structural explanation for poverty over the personal by a significant margin, 63 to 29 percent.

These results are not a surprise if you belong to the reality-based community. Economic conditions in this country are the worst since the Great Depression. Six years after the start of Bush’s Great Recession, there has been hardly any recovery at all for most Americans. According to research by Emmanuel Saez, an economics professor at the University of California at Berkeley, between 2009 and 2011 the top 1 Percent became 11.2 percent richer while the bottom 99 Percent got 0.4 percent poorer.

Long-term unemployment benefits expired for 1.3 million Americans on December 28. They were just a fraction of the 4.1 million people whom the Labor Department counted as unemployed for more than 26 weeks. Beyond the official long-term unemployed, more than 760,000 others are counted by the Labor Department as “discouraged,” meaning they have stopped looking for work (some economists think that the number may be higher).

It remains to be seen whether our broken political system can do much to fix our broken economy. Congress hasn’t even been able to agree on an extension of Emergency Unemployment Compensation, something that used to be routine.

UPDATE: Unemployment Is Falling For All The Wrong Reasons

One reason for the big drop in unemployment in December was that many, many people dropped out of the labor force — 347,000, to be exact. They stopped looking for work, which made them no longer “unemployed” in the eyes of the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

UPDATE: 50 Years Into The War On Poverty, Right-Wing Media Want To Give Up The Fight

Right-wing media have spent the last few years baselessly dismissing the decades-long push to alleviate poverty as not worth the fight, despite evidence showing that government efforts to reduce poverty have been successful.

UPDATE: Robert Reich: Today’s Jobs Report and the Scourge of Inequality

  1. #1 by brewski on January 9, 2014 - 2:14 pm

    How would you “fix” it? What would the untended consequences of your “fixes” be?
    Please use the phrase “behavioral response” in your answer.

    • #2 by Richard Warnick on January 9, 2014 - 2:56 pm

      Simple: end the war on the War on Poverty. LBJ’s anti-poverty programs cut the poverty rate almost in half before they were cut back by Republicans.

      [W]e have not, of course, been fighting any kind of serious war on poverty for five decades. We fought it with truly adequate funding for about one decade. Less, even. Then the backlash started, and by 1981, Ronald Reagan’s government was fighting a war on the war on poverty. The fate of many anti-poverty programs has ebbed and flowed ever since.

      But at the beginning, in the ’60s, those programs were fully funded, or close. And what happened? According to Joseph Califano, who worked in the Johnson White House, “the portion of Americans living below the poverty line dropped from 22.2 percent to 12.6 percent, the most dramatic decline over such a brief period in this century.” That’s a staggering 43 percent reduction. In six years.

      • #3 by brewski on January 9, 2014 - 11:13 pm

        The author of your quote’s biography and his deep knowledge of poverty:

        Joseph Califano, Jr.

        St. Gregory’s Elementary School (private)
        Brooklyn Preparatory School (private)
        The College of the Holy Cross (private)
        Harvard Law School (private)

        In other words, he has never attended for one day of his life any public school from kindergarten to law school. And he wants to lecture other people about poverty? He knows about as much about poverty as Mitt.

    • #4 by Richard Warnick on January 10, 2014 - 1:09 pm

      Robert Reich’s modest proposal:

      Businesses won’t create new jobs without enough customers. But most Americans no longer have enough purchasing power to fuel that job growth.

      That’s why it’s so important to (1) raise the minimum wage at least to its inflation-adjusted value 40 years ago — which would be well over $10 an hour, (2) extend unemployment benefits to the jobless, (3) launch a major jobs program to rebuild the nation’s crumbling infrastructure, (4) expand Medicaid to the near-poor, (5) enable low-wage workers to unionize, (6) rehire all the teachers, social workers, police, and other public service employees who were laid off in the recession, (7) exempt the first $20,000 of income from Social Security payroll taxes and make up the difference by removing the cap on income subject to the tax.

      And because the rich spend a far smaller proportion of their earnings than the middle class and poor, pay for much of this by (8) closing tax loopholes that benefit the rich such as the “carried interest” tax benefit for hedge-fund and private-equity managers, (9) raise the highest marginal tax rate, and (10) impose a small tax on all financial transactions.

      One of the major political parties adamantly refuses to do any of this, and the other doesn’t have the strength or backbone to make them.

      Make a ruckus.

      • #5 by brewski on January 10, 2014 - 3:29 pm

        One man’s opinion

        – Richard Warnick

      • #6 by Larry Bergan on January 10, 2014 - 7:45 pm

        The last sentence says it all. Nice to have Reich out there.

        • #7 by brewski on January 10, 2014 - 9:26 pm

          Reich is the man who said Obama is undermining democracy. He must be a racist.

          • #8 by Larry Bergan on January 10, 2014 - 10:05 pm

            I’m not familiar with the remark, but that’s a GOOD thing. The democrats don’t follow Ronald Reagan’s eleventh commandment, “thou shalt not criticize another republican” and they never have.

            I keep bringing this up to people like you, and nobody ever gets it.

            Working with democrats is like herding cats and we don’t get any money from anybody but the grass roots. It a tough go, but there is going to be a tipping point that will work in our favor. I can feel it coming.

            When that happens, brewski, you can start using your real name and join us. Till then, keep causing trouble for us because you believe it’s helping you.

          • #9 by cav on January 11, 2014 - 8:41 am

            There will always be brewskis among us. Our battle is perpetual.

          • #10 by brewski on January 11, 2014 - 9:03 am

            You are not familiar with the remark? I have posted it here man times. Here it is again.

            There will always be people who believe in the Truth and not lefty myth? I hope so.

          • #11 by Larry Bergan on January 11, 2014 - 9:08 am

            Thanks for helping, cav!

          • #12 by Larry Bergan on January 11, 2014 - 9:13 am

            Oh Lord!

            brewski beat me to the draw and preempted my reply to cav.

            Fast damn typer!

          • #13 by Larry Bergan on January 11, 2014 - 9:19 am


            Listen to me!

            All in government must cow to industry. It’s in the soup!

          • #14 by Larry Bergan on January 11, 2014 - 9:26 am

            Most unfortunate situation.

          • #15 by brewski on January 11, 2014 - 8:59 pm

            Reich was right. Obama is undermining democracy.

  2. #16 by brewski on January 9, 2014 - 5:06 pm

    I love it when you hand me gimmes.

    From your link:

    “The cornerstone was a thriving economy (which the 1964 tax cut sparked)
    — Joseph Califano

    Thank you for suggesting that we should enact a tax cut. Welcome to the GOP.

    • #17 by Richard Warnick on January 9, 2014 - 6:49 pm

      One man’s opinion. Tell me about the “thriving economy” sparked by Bush’s tax cuts for the rich.

      • #18 by brewski on January 9, 2014 - 7:38 pm

        One man’s opinion? You mean just like the one man’s opinion you just quoted from and linked to? Do I get to answer every banal point you ever make and every illiterate link you sources by just saying “one man’s opinion”? Thanks for the easy tip.

        • #19 by Richard Warnick on January 9, 2014 - 8:33 pm

          I prefer graphs to anecdotes. You can see what happened to the poverty rate when a Republican administration took office in 1969, 1974, 1981, 1989, and 2001. And when Bush crashed the economy in 2008.

          Source: NPR

          • #20 by brewski on January 9, 2014 - 8:55 pm

            The Democrats controlled Congress until 1995.

            The only thing these charts show is that poverty goes up in times of recession. Big fucking news. What else you got; people get when when it rains?

            This also shows that you can reduce poverty by invading Asia and drafting everyone . That’s what the Democrats did.

            Then Pelosi crashed the economy. Everything was perfect up until she came to power.

  3. #21 by Larry Bergan on January 9, 2014 - 5:36 pm


    You’re talking about a tax cut put in motion by Democrat, president Kennedy and then signed into law by Democrat Lyndon Johnson. What does that have to do with the GOP?

    Funny how you are excitedly peeing yourself over how the rich industrialists created jobs with the resulting 70% tax rate. Why are today’s rich unable to create any jobs at the surreal rate they enjoy today? Perhaps nepotism has produced a void of imagination.

    • #22 by brewski on January 9, 2014 - 7:45 pm

      1. The corporate rate wasn’t 70%.
      2. No one actually paid the statutory individual rate
      3. Europe was flattened
      4. Chinese leftists were committing mass genocide on themselves
      5. India didn’t exist as an economic competitor
      6. Women didn’t work
      7. The foreign born population of the US then was half as what it is today
      8. You white people were able to keep the colored man down.
      9. The draft soaked up everyone too stupid to avoid it.
      10. Teachers made half of what they make today, houses were half the size as they are today, cars polluted, life expectancy was 10 years shorter….

      Do you really want to go back to the economic reality of the 1960’s?

      • #23 by Larry Bergan on January 9, 2014 - 8:24 pm

        That’s your usual long list of things, but let’s get back to the subject of Johnson’s “war on poverty”. Things take a while to kick in you know. By the seventies, after the Viet Nam war ended, America was as on top of the world as anyone could hope to be. People from most walks of life were really starting to feel good about the future…

        …for a lot of the wrong reasons, but we’re working on it.

        By the way, I could have been in Viet Nam if the war hadn’t ended. Are you calling ME stupid.

        • #24 by brewski on January 9, 2014 - 8:28 pm

          The 70’s the US was on top of the world? Are you kidding? Gas lines, odd-even days, energy crises, mortgage rates of 20%, inflation, Carter’s malaise speech, disco, Captain and Tenille, Muskat Love….

          • #25 by Larry Bergan on January 9, 2014 - 8:33 pm

            Yeah gas lines were the biggest worry we had. In the scheme of things, that’s pretty good. Gas worries make me yawn. There are so many other things to get serious about. Got to agree with you about Disco, but I don’t think Carter had any more control over what the gas guys and the bankers did then Obama does. Hell Reagan didn’t have any control over them.

      • #26 by Larry Bergan on January 9, 2014 - 8:29 pm

        By the way, addressing number 1, they STILL aren’t paying what they’re supposed to while the country goes don’t the tubes. How nice.

  4. #27 by Larry Bergan on January 9, 2014 - 5:42 pm

    Maybe the rich should start producing jobs instead of propping up fake organizations and buying congressmen.

    Clean jobs and needed social employment instead of making stuff that we don’t need.

  5. #28 by brewski on January 9, 2014 - 8:32 pm

    ” I want to talk to you right now about a fundamental threat to American democracy.

    I do not mean our political and civil liberties. They will endure. And I do not refer to the outward strength of America, a nation that is at peace tonight everywhere in the world, with unmatched economic power and military might.

    The threat is nearly invisible in ordinary ways. It is a crisis of confidence. It is a crisis that strikes at the very heart and soul and spirit of our national will. We can see this crisis in the growing doubt about the meaning of our own lives and in the loss of a unity of purpose for our nation.

    The erosion of our confidence in the future is threatening to destroy the social and the political fabric of America.”

    President Jimmy Carter
    July 15, 1979

    • #29 by Larry Bergan on January 9, 2014 - 8:42 pm

      OK, it wasn’t all optimism, but Carter was a realist and I still think that was a great speech. Reagan told everybody else in the world to go to hell.

      I’ll take Carter any day of the week.

      • #30 by brewski on January 9, 2014 - 8:48 pm

        The voters didn’t.

        • #31 by Larry Bergan on January 9, 2014 - 9:37 pm

          Reagan told Americans they could have anything they wanted and Carter told them there were big sacrifices to make.

          At least we had honest elections back then, but sort of embarrassing, huh?

          • #32 by brewski on January 9, 2014 - 9:50 pm

            You mean you concede that Reagan actually won?

          • #33 by Larry Bergan on January 10, 2014 - 7:17 pm

            Sure Reagan won. Carter was dogged by the media every single night by Ted Koppel and everybody was convinced he was a weak president and had caused all the problems we had.

            The Republican election theft industry hadn’t kicked into gear yet, but the punch cards had just come out and Democrats started to lose in Utah. Who knows if Orrin Hatch won or not. He wasn’t a famous movie and television star.

            I voted for Carter.

    • #34 by Larry Bergan on January 9, 2014 - 8:48 pm

      It’s better to watch the speech anyway. Very wise man.

      Think where we would be today if we had listened to him. What does he say in that video that isn’t prophetic.

      • #35 by brewski on January 9, 2014 - 9:52 pm

        So which is it? A crisis of confidence or people from most walks of life were really starting to feel good about the future…?

        Which is it?

        Smoking a few doobies tonight eh Larry?

  6. #36 by Larry Bergan on January 9, 2014 - 9:09 pm

    I guess it has to be said that Jimmy Carter has carried the torch of the “war on poverty” through the years, with his great “habitat for humanity” program.

    He’s the longest living former president in the history of the US and thank goodness he’s still with us!

  7. #37 by Richard Warnick on January 10, 2014 - 8:59 am

    The positive thing is very few people are buying the Faux News “irresponsible poors” theory, aka blaming the victims.

  8. #38 by brewski on January 10, 2014 - 10:29 am

    Tell me why I have people who apply for jobs with the firm I work for and then tell me that they only applied to keep their unemployment benefits and don’t really want the job.

    • #39 by Richard Warnick on January 10, 2014 - 12:30 pm

      I can answer that from experience. In order to qualify for a pittance in unemployment insurance benefits (that you have paid into for years!) Utah now requires you to apply for FOUR jobs every week. These must be jobs in your line of work, and you have to document that you applied for them. Until 2011, the requirement was TWO jobs a week. If you receive a job offer and refuse to take the job, you lose your unemployment!

      Can you find FOUR open jobs right now that you are qualified for and that you would really want?

      OTOH it’s not very smart to come to a job interview and say you are only doing it to meet your quota. 🙁

      • #40 by brewski on January 11, 2014 - 9:05 am

        I guess there are a lot of not very smart people under your definition, but they are still collecting benefits and don’t want to work.

  9. #41 by Larry Bergan on January 10, 2014 - 7:34 pm

    I’ve only taken unemployment insurance twice. The first time I had a new job within about three weeks. The second time, I was 55 years old and couldn’t get one in my field, so I work in fast food now. I would have taken any job they hired me for, because I hated looking for a job.

    I couldn’t get anybody to call me back even though I felt every interview went well, but it turned out my 26 weeks was up and I felt lucky to get hired. It came out looking like I had bilked the system I guess, but that wasn’t my intention.

    Being on unemployment insurance is not a vacation. It makes you feel very vulnerable and puts you in limbo. Especially when you,re over 50.

  10. #42 by Larry Bergan on January 10, 2014 - 7:38 pm

    The new stats came out today and only 75 thousand jobs were created. Let’s see 75,000 jobs and millions getting taken off unemployment insurance.

    Think the Republicans give a shit?

  11. #43 by brewski on January 13, 2014 - 7:14 am

    Members of Congress continued to get richer last year, resulting in more than 50% of lawmakers possessing a net worth of $1 million or more—something that’s never happened before in congressional history.

    Of 534 current members of Congress, at least 268 were millionaires, according the Center for Responsive Politics’ review of financial disclosure reports filed last year.

    The median net worth for the 530 lawmakers who were in Congress as of the May 2013 filing deadline was $1,008,767—up from $966,000 during the previous year.

    The center also found that Democrats overall were a little wealthier than Republicans in Congress, $1.04 million versus $1 million. Both groups saw their collective net worth go up, from $990,000 for Democrats and $907,000 for Republicans in the previous year.

    Democrats in the House were richer than their GOP counterparts, $929,000 versus $884,000.

    • #44 by Larry Bergan on January 13, 2014 - 5:07 pm

      Yeah; even when Republicans steal the house, they are still a tiny bit poorer then the Democrats.

      Sort of sad.

      But, I’ll admit, its kind of a sewer.

      • #45 by brewski on January 13, 2014 - 8:27 pm

        You are defending the 1%. Nice job Larry.

        • #46 by Larry Bergan on January 13, 2014 - 9:51 pm

          I have never defended election theft. For some reason, republicans, independents and libertarians – all the same – are sort of proud of it or don’t seem to care.

          Democrats don’t seem to care either.

          Do you care, brewski?

          • #47 by brewski on January 13, 2014 - 10:34 pm

            You are defending the plutocrats that is the Democrat party.

          • #48 by Larry Bergan on January 13, 2014 - 11:49 pm

            Having millions hardly qualifies you as a plutocrat. That only constitutes a wannabe.

            I asked you a question, brewski/noname…

            Do you care about election theft in the 21st century?

          • #49 by Larry Bergan on January 13, 2014 - 11:54 pm

            I’m talking to a fucking moniker again! I should be listening to Leon Russell!

          • #50 by brewski on January 14, 2014 - 8:06 am

            Yes, it is horrible that Obama stole the primary from Hillary using illegal thug tactics.

  12. #51 by cav on January 13, 2014 - 8:49 am

    As our representatives, they are simply modelling ‘correct’ behaviors. Even the lowliest among have microwave ovens and cell phones (or ought to).

    The balancing act, and really you have to give them that it’s incredibly challenging, is to ‘float ALL boats’ at the same time they amass their personal fortunes utilizing the kind of inside opportunities they are steeped in. One has to be almost super-human to pull it off as well as they have.

    snark tag/

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