Sunday, April 6, 2014

Rich and poor both getting richer

Are the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer?  That's what a regular consumer of mainstream media would guess.  Trouble is, it's only half correct as a recent Congressional Budget Office analysis of Census data shows.  Between 1979 and 2010, income for households in the bottom 80% of the income distribution increased by 36 to 49 percent.  Growth for the top 20% was higher -- over 60 percent, with the top 1% seeing 200 percent gains.  

The CBO narrative for the lower and middle income brackets is more positive than what you have heard elsewhere for two reasons: (1) it takes into account taxes; (2) it adds in income from the entire range of government benefits.  The latter include "Social Security, unemployment insurance, Supplemental Security Income, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (and its predecessor, Aid to Families with Dependent Children), veterans’ programs, workers’ compensation, state and local government assistance programs ... [plus] ... the value of in-kind benefits: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program vouchers (popularly known as food stamps); school lunches and breakfasts; housing assistance; and energy assistance and benefits provided by Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program."

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