"Turning the corner"

By Geraldine Sealey
Published August 26, 2004 3:49PM (EDT)

President Bush in Pennsylvania last week:

"You might remember, during the last three-and-a-half years we've been through a recession, we went through some corporate scandals, we went through a terrorist attack, all of which affected our economy. Yet we've overcome it. Our economy is strong and getting stronger. ... I'll argue vehemently, we've overcome it because of well-timed tax cuts. It helped when we put more money in the people's pockets. It helped when we said, you know, we hear your cries and you need more money if you've got a child in your family."

The news from the Census Bureau today:

"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."

Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at Salon.com.

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