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Bush tries to hide poverty numbers and other things

Post: # 864,764
Reply Thu 26 Aug, 2004 02:40 pm

Anticipating the release of devastating new poverty and health care
statistics, the Bush administration today took the extraordinary step today
of trying to bury the numbers. Specifically, the Administration had its top
political appointee at the Census Bureau release the numbers a month earlier
than usual, during the August congressional recess when many reporters and
Americans take their summer vacations. The rescheduling of the announcement
also means that the bad numbers will not come out in September immediately
after the Republican National Convention, when they have traditionally been

With the President's economic and health care agenda leaving millions
behind, the Associated Press reports, "the statistics today show the number
of Americans living in poverty increased by 1.3 million last year, while the
ranks of the uninsured swelled by 1.4 million."[1]

This is not the first time the White House and Republicans have gone to
great lengths to hide damning information. As CBS News reported, President
Bush released his military service records late on a Friday night on the eve
of a three day weekend in order to make sure the story about his poor
attendance was seen by as few people as possible.[2]

In Congress, GOP leaders regularly pass the most controversial bills in the
middle of the night. Those included bills to slash veterans benefits and
health/education funding, as well as spending $87 billion on war in Iraq and
passing the President's Medicare bill.[3]


1. "Ranks of Poverty, Uninsured Rose in 2003," The Guardian, 8/26/04,
2. "Bush's Records: All In The Timing," CBS News, 2/15/04,
3. "Under The Cover Of Darkness," TomPaine.com,
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Post: # 864,816
Reply Thu 26 Aug, 2004 03:21 pm
Updated: 04:31 PM EDT
More Americans Uninsured, Living in Poverty
Census Data Shows Third Straight Annual Increase in Both Categories

WASHINGTON (Aug. 26) - The number of Americans living in poverty increased by 1.3 million last year, while the ranks of the uninsured swelled by 1.4 million, the Census Bureau reported Thursday.

It was the third straight annual increase for both categories. While not unexpected, it was a double dose of bad economic news during a tight re-election campaign for President Bush.

Approximately 35.8 million people lived below the poverty line in 2003, or about 12.5 percent of the population, according to the bureau. That was up from 34.5 million, or 12.1 percent in 2002.

The rise was more dramatic for children. There were 12.9 million living in poverty last year, or 17.6 percent of the under-18 population. That was an increase of about 800,000 from 2002, when 16.7 percent of all children were in poverty.

The Census Bureau's definition of poverty varies by the size of the household. For instance, the threshold for a family of four was $18,810, while for two people it was $12,015.

Nearly 45 million people lacked health insurance, or 15.6 percent of the population. That was up from 43.5 million in 2002, or 15.2 percent, but was a smaller increase than in the two previous years.
Uninsured rates for children, though, were relatively stable at 11.4 percent, likely the result of recent expansions of coverage in government programs covering the poor and children, such as the state Children's Health Insurance Program, analysts said.

Meanwhile, the median household income, when adjusted for inflation, remained basically flat last year at $43,318. Whites, blacks and Asians saw no noticeable change, but income fell 2.6 percent for Hispanics to nearly $33,000. Asians had the highest income at over $55,000, while whites made $47,800 and blacks nearly $30,000.

Census Bureau analyst Dan Weinberg said the results were typical of a post-recession period. He said the increase in people without insurance was due to the uncertain job picture.

"Certainly the long-term trend is firms offering less generous (benefit) plans, and as people lose jobs they tend to lose health insurance coverage," he said.

Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry seized on the numbers as evidence the Bush administration's economic policies have failed. During the years Bush has been in office, 5.2 million people have lost health insurance and 4.3 million have fallen into poverty, he said.

"Under George Bush's watch, America's families are falling further behind," Kerry said.

Bush administration officials were quick to counter that the data didn't reflect more recent gains in the economy in the first half of 2004 and left some of the blame on Congress. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson said Bush was focusing on proposals that would reduce the costs of health insurance for businesses.

"The big failure is not what is happening in the administration," Thompson said. "Individuals in the Senate have failed to adopt the president's health care plan."

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton, R-Texas, noted that while more people lost insurance, the number of Americans who had coverage grew by 1 million last year. Overall, 243 million people had insurance in 2003.

"The bottom line is this: More people in America have health coverage today than at any time in our nation's history and I think that's a fact worth noting, but we can always do more," Barton said.

Even before release of the data, some Democrats claimed the Bush administration was trying to play down bad news by releasing the reports a month earlier than usual. The reports normally come out separately in late September - one on poverty and income, the other on insurance.

Releasing the numbers at the same time and not so close to Election Day "invite charges of spinning the data for political purposes," said Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y.

Census Director Louis Kincannon - a Bush appointee - denied politics played any role in moving up the release date. The move, announced earlier this year, was done to coordinate the numbers with the release of other data.

Official national poverty estimates, as well as most government data on income and health insurance, come from the bureau's Current Population Survey.

This year the bureau is simultaneously releasing data from the broader American Community Survey, which also includes income and poverty numbers but cannot be statistically compared with the other survey.
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