So strange that I’m finding David Frum quotable.

Monday, August 22nd, 2011 @ 1:54 pm | Politics

Reality has a liberal bias:

The bad news in the 2000s was bad news about earnings. Whether the price of oil went up, down, or sideways, the typical American worker had less money to spend on everything in 2007 than seven years earlier.

The main depressant of those incomes was a factor unmentioned in the Journal editorial: healthcare costs. Through the 2000s, the cost of labor to employers rose briskly: an average of 25% per hour as I pointed out in my 2007 book, Comeback. But because healthcare costs doubled over the decade, none of that increase in the money paid by employers filtered through to employees.

So why doesn’t the Journal acknowledge that rather large fact?

The Bush years, despite the WSJ’s efforts to whitewash them, were years of continuing decline for America. Things are bad now, but they’ve been going bad for over a decade. People were productive and gains were made, but suddenly everything started costing more, and Frum lightly dismisses the fact that paying for gas actually is a huge pain for working people who drive every day. Those public-transportation-using Beltway elites!

Yet Frum is right, healthcare costs were one of the biggest bricks in the face, a complete sapper that made it harder for business to meet the costs of insuring workers (and please shareholders gambling in the world’s biggest casino, Wall Street). Millions more were priced out of buying it for themselves (oh, they might offer you a “Please, Sir, don’t bankrupt me!” catastrophic insurance plan for a couple hundred a month). Life didn’t get better for much of anyone beyond the ultra-rich.

So we’re not trying to halt some decline that just happened suddenly in 2008, we’re trying to reverse a decade of erosion for the middle class. If only we were up to it.

-hw

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