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WASHINGTON, DC - House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement today at a wage forum to release a new report from the Financial Services Committee Democrats which highlights Republicans' failed economic policies:
"I want to thank Barney Frank and the other Members for organizing this forum and Mr. Frank and his staff for pulling together this report that details the flaws in the Bush economy and the reasons why America needs a new economic direction. And I want to thank the distinguished panelists here today. We have with us many of the brightest minds on the state of the economy, along with labor leaders and real working Americans. I appreciate their participation as well.
"The truth is that President Bush and Congressional Republicans have failed to address the American people's priorities, doing nothing for the economy but tout GDP and productivity statistics that mean nothing to the average working American. Corporate profits are up, to be sure, but the vast majority of the American people are not reaping the benefits of our economic growth.
"Republican policies have been about helping the wealthiest accumulate more wealth and left the middle and working class behind. That effort has been tried and failed repeatedly throughout history - and the American people continue to reject this trickle down doctrine.
"The results of these policies are embarrassing for the richest nation on the face of the earth: The minimum wage is at its lowest level in 50 years. It has been 9 years since the last increase in the minimum wage, the second longest period without a wage increase since the law was first enacted. Had the 1968 rate of $1.60 per hour (highest in terms of relative purchasing power) been indexed, its value this year would be $9.05. A minimum wage increase would benefit poor workers who need it most, with 58.5 percent of the gains from the proposed $2.10 increase going to working households in the bottom 40 percent of the income scale.
"Household income overall has dropped nearly $1,300 since 2001. The numbers are worse for working families. Income for non-senior households dropped by $275 in 2005, dropping for the fifth year and for a total of almost $3,000.
"In addition to less income, families have to spend more to cover the basics and to provide for their children. Bankruptcies and foreclosures have climbed to record level. In 2005, the number of consumer bankruptcy filings reached a record high. The number of filings increased 31.6 % to 2 million, meaning that about one in every 53 households filed for bankruptcy.
"Energy costs for the average American family are approximately $3,000 more a year than they were five years ago. Health insurance costs for families have skyrocketed 71% since Bush took office. Tuition and fees at four-year public universities have exploded by 57%.
"Meanwhile, the Republican tax agenda has helped the wealthy while neglecting the middle class: The wealthy get most of the benefits of their tax cuts, and they have tied themselves in knots trying to eliminate the estate tax. Business tax incentives have continued to ship jobs overseas. Failed tax and budget policies have piled on more than $3 trillion in additional national debt that the next generations of Americans - our children and grandchildren - will be saddled with.
"As the report released today reminds us, the President's economists claimed that passage of the tax cuts would result job gains of 306,000 per month. Monthly job creation never reached that level in any of the quarters through 2004.
"Democrats want our economy to work for all Americans and not just the wealthy few. Again, thank you Congressman Frank for putting this forum together today."