The LuLac Edition #2177, August 30th, 2012
RYAN'S NIGHTRepresentative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, whose budget plans have come to define conservative opposition to President Obama’s governing philosophy, accepted the Republican vice-presidential nomination on Wednesday as his party embraced the gamble that the small-government principles he represents have more political payoff than peril. “Our president is not being true to our values,” Senator John McCain, the Republicans’ candidate in 2008, said at this year’s convention on Wednesday, “I trust Mitt Romney to lead us.” Before an audience of conservative party faithful gathered here for the Republican convention, Mr. Ryan, 42, sought to turn his relative youth to his advantage, saying he would stand with Mitt Romney in embarking on a generational struggle to protect the very social program — Medicare — that Democrats accuse him of trying to dismantle. “I accept the calling of my generation to give our children the America that was given to us,” Mr. Ryan said. “And I know that we are ready.” Fully embracing the vice-presidential nominee’s traditional role of leading the charge against the other party, he added, “After four years of getting the runaround, America needs a turnaround, and the man for the job is Governor Romney.” The excited anticipation for Mr. Ryan’s appearance here Wednesday was a resounding affirmation of his popularity with conservatives who have at times shown less enthusiasm for Mr. Romney. And Mr. Romney’s campaign hoped Mr. Ryan would help knit together a party whose primary-season tensions have bubbled to the surface at times during the convention. The session opened with a video tribute to Representative Ron Paul and included an appearance by his son, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, drawing boisterous cheers from some of the very delegates who had booed elements of the proceedings on Tuesday over what they viewed as slights to the elder Mr. Paul here and efforts by party leaders to squash the influence of grass-roots activists. (Rand Paul, unlike his father, enthusiastically endorsed Mr. Romney here.) Former President George W. Bush, whose spending policies are anathema to many of the ardent supporters of Mr. Ryan’s, gave an emotional filmed testimonial to both his father — with whom he appeared from the family vacation town of Kennebunkport, Me. — and Mr. Romney. “There is no question in my mind, Mitt Romney will be a great president,” he said.
Combined on line reports/New York Times.
THE DECLINE OF THE MIDDLE CLASSThis is a fascinating article from the Pew Research firm. It is what guys like me has been suspecting for years, that the time from 2000 to this year has been the most unproductive for the middle class.
As the 2012 presidential candidates prepare their closing arguments to America’s middle class, they are courting a group that has endured a lost decade for economic well-being. Since 2000, the middle class has shrunk in size, fallen backward in income and wealth, and shed some—but by no means all—of its characteristic faith in the future. These stark assessments are based on findings from a new nationally representative Pew Research Center survey that includes 1,287 adults who describe themselves as middle class, supplemented by the Center’s analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau and Federal Reserve Board of Governors. Fully 85% of self-described middle-class adults say it is more difficult now than it was a decade ago for middle-class people to maintain their standard of living. Of those who feel this way, 62% say “a lot” of the blame lies with Congress, while 54% say the same about banks and financial institutions, 47% about large corporations, 44% about the Bush administration, 39% about foreign competition and 34% about the Obama administration. Just 8% blame the middle class itself a lot. Their downbeat take on their economic situation comes at the end of a decade in which, for the first time since the end of World War II, mean family incomes declined for Americans in all income tiers. But the middle-income tier—defined in this Pew Research analysis as all adults whose annual household income is two-thirds to double the national median 1 —is the only one that also shrunk in size, a trend that has continued over the past four decades. In 2011, this middle-income tier included 51% of all adults; back in 1971, using the same income boundaries, it had included 61%. 2 The hollowing of the middle has been accompanied by a dispersion of the population into the economic tiers both above and below. The upper-income tier rose to 20% of adults in 2011, up from 14% in 1971; the lower-income tier rose to 29%, up from 25%. However, over the same period, only the upper-income tier increased its share in the nation’s household income pie. It now takes in 46%, up from 29% four decades ago. The middle tier now takes in 45%, down from 62% four decades ago. The lower tier takes in 9%, down from 10% four decades ago. For the middle-income group, the “lost decade” of the 2000s has been even worse for wealth loss than for income loss. The median income of the middle-income tier fell 5%, but median wealth (assets minus debt) declined by 28%, to $93,150 from $129,582. 3 During this period, the median wealth of the upper-income tier was essentially unchanged—it rose by 1%, to $574,788 from $569,905. Meantime, the wealth of the lower-income tier plunged by 45%, albeit from a much smaller base, to $10,151 from $18,421. About half (52%) of adults who self-identify as middle class say they believe Obama’s policies in a second term would help the middle class, while 39% say they would not help. By comparison, 42% say that Romney’s election would help the middle class, while 40% say it would not help. There is much more variance in the judgments of the middle class about the likely impact of the two candidates’ policies on the wealthy and the poor. Fully seven-in-ten (71%) middle-class respondents say Romney’s policies would help the wealthy, while just a third (33%) say they would help the poor. Judgments about Obama tilt the opposite way. Roughly four-in-ten (38%) middle-class respondents say his policies would help the wealthy, and about six-in-ten (62%) say they would help the poor.