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Written by Jan Koch, Shawano   
Tuesday, 04 February 2020 16:33

donald-trump-deficitBe careful when Trump uses the term “the economy”, it all depends who you are talking about and where they live, says northeastern Wisconsin resident.


SHAWANO, WI - “It’s the economy, stupid.” This now infamous phrase has been used to point out how a country is doing financially. Saying that “the economy” in the United States is booming is ignoring what is really going on.

Yes, the unemployment rate is at an historic low. However, that does not take into account the millions of laborers who are “underemployed”. Many are working part-time hours when they are in desperate need of full-time, salaried work. Also existing are a large number of Americans so depressed over their economic situation that they have not applied for a job in a year or longer.

Yes, it looks like the United States has most of its work force employed but since the crash of 2008 seventy-five percent of new jobs pay less than $50,000 a year. Wages might be rising slightly nationally but In Wisconsin a large percentage barely pay above the $7.25 minimum wage, which is one of the lowest in the nation.

Today millions of people fall under the degrading classification of “working poor”. In contrast, the top 1 percent of earners take home eighty-five percent of income.

The unemployment number means nothing. The stock market’s advances mean nothing either.

The richest 10 percent of Americans own 84 percent of stocks. The bottom half of households don’t own stocks. The daily rise and fall of Wall Street has no effect on most Americans. It won’t have very much influence on the waitress at the diner, the family farmer, or the home health care worker helping an elderly diabetic inject his insulin—a drug he could not afford if he were not on Medicare.

For most Americans “The economy” does not exist. What do all the economic forecasts mean for the 58 percent of who have less than $1000 in savings, or the 28 percent who have no savings at all? One misfortune could bring them to bankruptcy.

Whether “the economy” grows by 3 percent of 3.5 percent next quarter will have no relevance in the lives of those who are juggling thousands in credit-card debt and student-loan payments, along with the rising healthcare costs and the expenses of living.

There is no “economy” for most poor and work-class Americans. There is only everyday life. Because they don’t have adequate healthcare, they pray that their children don’t get sick. Unfortunately, paid family leave is not given to low-income wage earners. They pray their car doesn’t break down and they can’t get to work. Job security is fragile in low-income jobs. They pray their landlord does not raise the rent. It is difficult to find affordable housing for families.

When Donald Trump became president, the nation had a major economic recovery going on according to a new study at the Harvard Business School on U.S. competitiveness. Co-author Michael Porter said it could have given us the chance to take some significant resources and devote them to some of our well-known challenges, like infrastructure or health care. But very little of that happened.

The overwhelming majority of business leaders surveyed in the report said lobbying primarily advanced company interests, sometimes at the expense of the public interests. Those surveyed said businesses’ overall engagement worsened the political system by advancing policies that benefited special interests.

Even though candidate Trump promised to reduce the deficit, his 2017 tax cuts and increased government spending have increased the treasury’s deficit which is expected to grow to a trillion dollars this year.

Donald Trump’s massive tax cut only made the wealthy richer. It has proven to be nothing more than a handout for the largest corporations. Companies have given even bigger bonuses to their executives instead of increasing the number of good paying jobs and bringing back jobs which were shipped overseas.

trump-tariffsDue to President Trump’s trade war Wisconsin’s manufacturing sector is in a recession. Companies have had to slow their business growth, putting expansions on hold and laying off workers to ensure their businesses can survive. Some estimates show Trump’s trade war could result in Wisconsin losing 37,344 jobs. The tariffs have cost the state nearly a billion dollars.

Even though we just lived through a seemingly prosperous decade, the bulk of Americans don’t have enough money in their retirement accounts to retire on. Moreover, some people who retired and thought they would live on their fixed income have had to take a job because they found out their income wasn’t enough.

For Wisconsin’s growing elderly population there is a glimmer of hope. Governor Tony Evers has set up a Retirement Security Task Force. It’s not that Wisconsin’s workers don’t want to save, it’s that the have been living under economic conditions that have made saving either impossible or inaccessible. A recent AARP of Wisconsin study revealed that 1 in 7 registered voters have no way to save for retirement at work. The Governor and StateTreasurer Sarah Godlewski believe hard-working individuals deserve to have peace of mind and feel secure when they retire.

When the term “the economy” is being used, be cautious. Using it as a measure of success shows a clear absence of any long-term strategy which lies outside the next election cycle. Focusing on what is happening in people’s real lives makes for a more intelligent conversation. It could also make for a better country.

Jan Koch,
Shawano

 
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