Trying to Make Ends Meet, Voters Are Angrier Than Ever With The Busheviks. It's Still The Economy, Stupid
If you listen to President Bush, the economy's just hummin' along, experiencing solid growth and expansion and increasingly robust. The only problem is, the average American isn't feeling this prosperity in their wallets. To the contrary, they're feeling more squeezed and shortchanged than ever. That's because there's a huge disconnect between how the Bushies evaluate the economy and how ordinary citizens do. They're asking themselves, "are we better off than we were two and six years ago?" and the answer, according to every poll, is a resounding "hell no." And that spells trouble for the GOP this November.
To be sure, there are key indicators that would support Bush's claim of a strong economy, such as low 4.7% unemployment, solid 3.5% GDP growth and a stellar stock market. But in terms of significance to Mr. and Mrs. Average Joe, these metrics pale in comparison to skyrocketing fuel costs, runaway health expenses, rising housing costs and interest rates, stagnant real wages, and record home foreclosures. The typical American couple needs two jobs just to make ends meet. And now it costs them another $20 bucks a week just to fill the tank, with the average self-serve gallon of gas nearing $3.00. It's also cost them significantly more to heat their homes this Winter, and the effect of rising interest rates on credit card payments and home equity loans has created a real squeeze on the pocketbook.
In the critical area of healthcare, spending has doubled from 1994 to 2004. Each year, insurance premiums increase 12-20%. Employers, feeling the pinch themselves, are asking workers to contribute more and more of their coverage costs every year. Unpaid medical bills are the number one cause of bankruptcies in America today. And for a couple retiring in 2006, they're going to need $200,000 in savings just to cover their healthcare needs. Is it any wonder then that a new Washington Post/ABC News poll shows that 59% believe the economy is "not good" or "poor?"
Middle class voters across the country were duped in 2004 into focusing much of their attention on diversions such as gay marriage, religion and manufactured terrorism threats. This year, while the war in Iraq and the plethora of ReTHUGlican scandals will surely be primary get-out-the-vote themes for the Democrats, there's every reason to believe that the almighty shrinking dollar will be #1 on voters' minds as they close that curtain behind them. It's still the economy, stupid.