According to the Census Bureau, 43.6 million Americans live in poverty. This is the highest it has been since the 1960’s. The recent recession has put millions of Americans out of work, starting a cycle that has led to a series of climbing poverty rates.
As many have lost their jobs, they have lost their employer-provided health care benefits as well which leads to mounting medical bills and prescription costs. After a long battle, congress passed a health overhaul bill which has already made some improvements for seniors, students and those with pre-existing conditions but many of the main provisions of the bill will not go into effect until 2014.
Often times, when money is not coming in and bills need to be paid, people will turn to their credit cards. Medical bills, utility payments and even mortgage payments were being paid on credit cards as a short term solution to a long term problem.
However, the credit card companies themselves had been a nightmare for many consumers and there seemed to be no solution to a problem that was driving many Americans further in debt at a very critical time.
Now, to back up a bit, there’s a bigger picture here to look at before the recession and before the economy started showing signs of falling apart. The picture is this. Many households had taken on more credit, more payments and more cost than in reality was needed or realistically could be paid had anything come up or gone wrong. The rule of thumb to follow is this, “If something can go wrong, it will.” Another is, “Don’t bite off more than you can chew.”
Of course everyone dreams big and wants more for their children than they had. Most people want the “American Dream.” Maybe it’s time to adjust the dream.
Right now though, sights need to be set on the 43.6 million people living in poverty. What is really being done to help the situation for those people? That number grew from 39.8 million people in 2008.
Are the companies who received bailouts hiring employees? Loaning money to small businesses? Are bailed out companies still giving multi-million dollar bonuses to people receiving multi-million dollar salaries?
Are companies hiring those in need of jobs and are people in need of jobs still pursuing businesses in their communities?
The Credit CARD Act of 2009 was signed into law by President Obama on May 22, 2009 to help protect consumers and force credit card companies to be more fair and transparent.
As Americans have been forced to look at their credit responsibilities, many have seen just how wrongly credit card companies had been treating them but also realized there was little they could do aside from cancelling their account.
With this new Credit CARD Act of 2009, the Health Care Overhaul, Americans taking a long hard look at what is being spent compared to what they are making and a more vast amount of Americans wanting to hold their state and national leaders more responsible, will this make a difference for the 43.6 million individuals that need to see change NOW?
Programs that have been signed into law and are going into effect will make some differences. Health care costs cause many families to lose everything or claim bankruptcy. Health care will now start seeing improvements for many. Job losses could have been much worse had the stimulus or tax incentives not gone out. The idea is to focus on what is working and keep growing on new ideas and make sure they get passed and not stalled in the House or Congress.
Poverty is not picky. It can choose anybody at anytime. It does not only affect third world countries or people of a certain educational level or certain backgrounds. It is here in America and it can be affecting someone you know and you can’t tell. There are 43.6 million people in the U.S. living in poverty. That number doesn’t need to increase.
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Tuesday, 21 September 2010
Poverty in America - Tampa Bay Political Buzz