The Bush Economy

It's unprecedented for sure. But that's, um, not always a good thing.

Americans earned a smaller average income in 2005 than in 2000, the fifth consecutive year that they had to make ends meet with less money than at the peak of the last economic expansion, new government data shows.

…Total income listed on tax returns grew every year after World War II, with a single one-year exception, until 2001, making the five-year period of lower average incomes and four years of lower total incomes a new experience for the majority of Americans born since 1945.
So, ya know, if you're not feeling that Bush Boom we've been hearing so much about, that's probably why—because you're still living on less money than you were five years ago.

While incomes have been on the rise since 2002, the average income in 2005 was $55,238, still nearly 1 percent less than the $55,714 in 2000, after adjusting for inflation, analysis of new tax statistics show.
The Bush administration, sympathetic as always, says, "Not our problem, douchebags." Or, technically: "[With] the significant wrenching hits that our economy took in 2001 and 2002…no one should be surprised that what a bubble economy created in the late 1990s and 2000, where economic data were skewed, would take some time to recover." Thank you, White House Spokesman Tony Fratto, for taking the time to create a new way of saying "Clenis!" + "9/11 changed everything" = "fuck you." Very refreshing!

Anyway…so yeah. The fact that Americans' incomes "remained lower in 2005 than five years earlier helps explain why so many Americans report feeling economic stress despite overall growth in the economy." What's more, there's this other little problem of, in addition to having less money generally, a large swath of Americans who "are also paying a larger share of their health care costs and have had their retirement benefits reduced, adding to their out-of-pocket costs." Ouch. Less money that needs to go further, and you end up feeling pretty quickly like butter scraped over too much bread, as our friend Bilbo would say.

If, however, you were among the Americans making more than $1 million a year, otherwise known as "the less-than-a-quarter-of-1-percenters," your income probably grew! Turns out that not only did your numbers grow "by more than 26 percent, to 303,817 in 2005, from 239,685 in 2000," but you also "received 62 percent of the savings from the reduced tax rates on long-term capital gains and dividends that President Bush signed into law in 2003." Wow. Good for you!

You're not really passing that windfall on to the rest of us, though, if you know what I mean—so get trickling! Trickle-down economics only works if there's trickling!

[Robert S. McIntyre, the director of Citizens for Tax Justice] said the tax savings at the top, combined with lower average incomes after five years, “shows that trickle down doesn’t work.”
Huh. Fancy that. I never would have guessed.

More from Lambert, Attaturk, Steve M., and Oliver Willis.

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