One of the most blatant lies repeated during the Democratic Convention, and throughout the Presidential campaign, is that the policies of George W. Bush have worsened the plight of the poor. As this Wall Street Journal article asserts, the disparity between the wealthy and those living in poverty has increased, but the overall standard of living for the poor has gone up as well:

“While there is some substance to these fears of widening inequality and middle-class stagnation, the situation is not nearly as clear-cut. Demographic changes in the size and composition of U.S. households have distorted the statistics in important ways.

First, we can easily dismiss the notion that the poor are getting poorer. All the Census Bureau tells us is that the share of the pie consumed by the poor has been shrinking (to 3.4% in 2006 from 4.1% in 1970). But the “pie” has grown enormously. This year’s real GDP of $14 trillion is three times that of 1970. So the absolute size of the slice received by the bottom 20% has increased to $476 billion from $181 billion. Allowing for population growth shows that the average income of people at the bottom of the income distribution has risen 36%.

They’re not rich, but they’re certainly not poorer. In reality, economic growth has raised incomes across the board.”

The results are based on Census data collected annually each March. The purpose is to take a snapshot of the overall populace; individual progress is not tracked from year to year. As such, this particular survey does not quantify the number of “poor” individuals who have moved up the economic ladder. The supposed decline in prosperity, statistically speaking, is largely a result of the influx of immigrants, both legal and illegal, who often begin at the bottom rung.

The Democrats, from John Edwards to Hillary Clinton to Biden and Obama, have run this year on populist pledges, fancying themselves as knights in shining armor who will save the poor from the tyranny of the Bush administration. These numbers, combined with yesterday’s announcement that the U.S. economy grew by 3.3% during the second quarter, shows that things are not nearly as bad as they would have us believe.

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