If you are one of the 48 million Americans without health care, if your wages are barely rising or are stuck, if your debt level is crushing because you can't keep up with the basic bills that pay for the rock bottom necessities of life, if you have no real retirement...hey, don't worry because the Federal Reserve says the economy is just fine and dandy.
Appearing before a Senate committee yesterday, the Fed's chairman, Ben Bernanke, was positively thrilled:
The chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben S. Bernanke, gave Congress an upbeat view of the economy on Wednesday, predicting that unemployment was likely to remain low over the next two years even as inflation declined slightly.
Mr. Bernanke’s comments, which suggested that he was comfortable with interest rates at current levels, immediately lifted stock markets. His testimony soothed investors who had begun to worry that the central bank might be tempted to raise the cost of short-term borrowing later this year in fear that a stronger economy would push inflation higher.
I'll give credit to Democrats who at least pushed Bernanke a bit:
It was Mr. Bernanke’s second Congressional appearance since Democrats assumed majority control in both the House and Senate last month, and Democrats peppered him with questions about rising income inequality and the growing insecurity they said confronted middle-income families.
“People are working longer and harder, but many are not bringing home enough money to keep pace with what they need,” said Senator Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, chairman of the banking committee and a contender for the Democratic presidential nomination.
But Mr. Bernanke faced little direct criticism himself, and he refrained from weighing in on policy proposals outside of monetary policy.
When Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, asked whether rising income inequality might be a reason to make the income tax more progressive by imposing higher tax rates on richer taxpayers, the Fed chairman politely but firmly declined to engage. “I’m afraid my answer is going to disappoint you,” he said.
That last point is the most galling. The top one percent of taxpayers are pocketing hundreds of billions of dollars thanks to the Bush tax cuts--money that could finance a single-payer system which would save the economy $300 billion in administrative costs and assist companies like Chrysler. But, no, let's let the rich get off like bandits, no matter the cost to the rest of us poor slobs.