Washington, D.C. – Today, John D. Podesta, President and CEO of the Center for American Progress, released the following statement on the 2010 Census numbers:
“New Census Bureau data on income, poverty, and health insurance coverage document the ongoing, painful impact of the Great Recession on millions of families and underscore the urgent need to create jobs. Shrinking incomes, rising poverty, a record number of Americans without health insurance, and greater economic inequality as more and more families are simply left behind all undermine the strength of the middle class, our country’s engine of economic growth.
Falling incomes hurt families and carry serious consequences for our fragile economic recovery. Declining incomes and rising poverty limit the demand for goods and services. This harms American businesses and decreases the incentive for firms to invest in new hires and job growth. Right now, businesses say that their biggest problem is having enough customers.
President Barack Obama has laid out a plan, the American Jobs Act, which will create millions of jobs, reduce unemployment, and strengthen our nation’s middle class. It will invest in infrastructure and teachers, which will put people to work. It will help the long-term unemployed, supporting those hardest hit by the recession as well as local economies. These efforts should give those who have been pushed into poverty a fighting chance to climb back up into the middle class.
We know these policies will work. Expansions of unemployment insurance have already kept 1.6 million people in jobs each quarter during the recession, and they kept 3.2 million families out of poverty last year alone. Increased government investments in infrastructure saved or created 1.1 million jobs in the construction industry and 400,000 jobs in manufacturing by March 2011. Almost all of these jobs were in the private sector.
Today’s numbers should be a wake-up call to Congress to act quickly. Yet even as 14 million languish in unemployment, conservatives are blocking efforts to create jobs. And even as 2.6 million more Americans fell into poverty, conservatives are proposing dramatic cuts to antipoverty programs—all while protecting tax cuts for millionaires and profitable corporations. That’s just wrong.
The increase in the uninsured also underscores the importance of the Affordable Care Act: In a few short years, these uninsured Americans will have the insurance they are now going without. It is a tragedy that conservatives would rip this security out of their hands. Programs to protect health coverage should be safeguarded as policymakers lay out a plan to address our nation’s fiscal challenges.
As the super committee takes up work to reduce the long-term deficit, this new data calls attention to the need to protect low-income families, maintain the health care expansions in the Affordable Care Act, and strengthen the middle class. This can only be accomplished by balancing spending cuts with revenue increases that ask millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share. The poor and middle class didn’t get us into this mess. They shouldn’t bear the brunt of all the cuts.
Over the coming weeks, Congress must send a message that we will not stand by and tolerate a shrinking middle class as more families fall into poverty and lose their health care. We can and we must do better.”
For more analysis of the 2010 Census numbers, read Census Data Underscore the Urgency of Enacting Job-Creation Measures by Neera Tanden, Heather Boushey, and Melissa Boteach.