(NNPA)—We don’t need a study or news report to tell us the economy has taken its toll on the average American. Indeed, many people need only to look at their dwindling bank accounts to know that the country isn’t any better off financially than it was two years ago.


News reports and studies do, however, help paint a broader picture so that we may all understand just how deep this recession goes. The most recent report on Americans and their income, released by the Census Bureau, reveals that the number of people in this country living in poverty has reached its highest level in 51 years.

One in six Americans, over 14-percent of the population, is currently living below the federal poverty level. Additionally, over 20-percent of the nation’s children live in poverty and, in what may be a surprise to many, much of that is being fueled by an increase in poverty among white Americans. These numbers tells us that poverty can no longer be dismissed as an inner city or rural problem: it affects Americans in cities and suburbs, whether they be Black, White or Latino. Those who were, before the recession, struggling financially are no better off than they were before and the middle class is sliding into poverty with them.

The data stands in sharp contrast to a report that revealed 25 of the nation’s top companies paid more to their chief executives than they did in federal taxes: Verizon paid it’s top dog Ivan Seidenberg $18.1 million and received a $705 million refund; eBay’s CEO John Donahoe earned $12.4 million and the company banked a $131 million tax refund. Multi-billion dollar corporations are using federal loopholes to avoid paying their fare share of taxes. To add insult to injury, the refunds they receive are reinvested back into their companies instead of being used to create jobs and shore up the economy.

This isn’t the first time corporations have appeared to win out over average Americans: the federal government bailed out the banking and auto industries, costing taxpayers several hundreds of billions of dollars. With so much money spent, it is not unreasonable to expect these industries would have created more jobs or community initiatives. Instead, taxpayers stand to lose over $14 billion of the money spent and, on a personal level, have very little to show for it.

Saving entire industries from financial ruin was a necessary step, that point cannot be argued. But the federal government must also work to save families from financial ruin. Pulling families out of poverty must be a key priority of our government.

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