Incomes Decline Again, But Will GOP Candidates Speak Out?

Last week, new data released by the U.S. Census Bureau showed inflation-adjusted median income slipping to $53,657 in 2014, a drop from the previous year and a 6.5 percent drop from 2007, the year before the Great Recession, when it was $57,300.

Source: Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Source: Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Source: "Measuring Working Family Stress in Relation to the Cost of Living," JEC.
Source: “Measuring Working Family Stress in Relation to the Cost of Living,” JEC.

The fall in real income is affecting millions of families across the United States. So why aren’t the GOP presidential candidates talking about it?

If Republicans want to appeal to voters when they discuss economics, they had better talk about what’s impacting everyone — stagnant wages and a rapidly rising cost of living.

Wage stagnation has been going on for decades, a global phenomenon dating back to when President Nixon first pulled us off the gold standard and empowered the unelected Federal Reserve to control our currency.

But the problem has been exacerbated in recent years by irresponsible policy. The Federal Reserve has held interest rates at nearly zero for almost seven years now, and the consequences of that policy have been dire for working families — wages are effectively dropping, while prices continue to go up year after year.

Not only are people earning fewer dollars, but the precious few dollars they do earn are worth even less.

Sure, the Federal Reserve’s zero interest rate policy has been wonderful for the stock market and for wealthy hedge fund managers, but it’s been awful for the rest of us as the gap between rich and poor only grows larger. This obvious problem is one of the reasons for Bernie Sanders’ recent success — he speaks to this issue, while Republicans, as a whole, do not.

When Republicans hammer on about vague concepts like GDP growth and corporate tax rates, they are ignoring the most important economic concern to the voting public — rising prices and stagnant wages. That’s what people care about. How can the next President improve the plight of the working class?

It all starts with monetary policy.

Jon Schweppe is Deputy Director of Communications for American Principles in Action.