National Consumers League

Where are the headlines that matter most to Americans?


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SG-headshot.jpg"It’s the economy, stupid!" Those four words allegedly won Bill Clinton the Oval Office in 1992 when the U.S. was going through a recession and incumbent President George Bush was facing high unpopularity numbers. "It’s the economy, stupid" was coined by political guru James Carville and is echoing in my ears right now as we read the wildly encouraging headlines this morning showing that wages and living standards are increasing and hunger and poverty dropping in the United States. 

So why aren’t the newscasters talking about this wonderful news nonstop? Well, they aren’t. This morning the lead story on supposedly liberal NPR was “Bayer is buying chemical giant Monsanto.” I’ve been watching CNN headlines as I work at my desk and I haven’t seen a single discussion of this breaking economic news. Instead, there’s been nonstop coverage of whether Donald Trump will release his medical records to Dr. Oz, Hillary Clinton’s return to the campaign trail after her bout of pneumonia and her supposed “penchant for secrecy,”; they’ve covered Trump’s embrace of Vladimir Putin, the agony of defeat of past presidents. Nada, rien, nothing on the economy.

Why? This economic news is really quite stunning. And according to The New York Times, these numbers represent:

  • The largest economic gains in a generation
  • Poverty fell, health insurance coverage spread (Thank you Obamacare) and  incomes rose “sharply” and for households on every rung of the economic ladder, ending years of stagnation

So where are the headlines, the panels, the discussions of what really matters for average Americans?

The only conclusion I can reach is that the media is conflicted. They are not in the business of reporting important news because that doesn’t get them headlines. Instead, the incessant discussion about Trump’s latest outrage and Clinton’s emails and illness. Sadly, they have a profit motive in drawing more viewers so they talk about stuff that isn’t nearly as important as these stunning economic gains. But NCL calls on Americans to celebrate this most welcome progress–the middle class needs to grow for this nation to thrive. And our newspapers, radio stations, TV, and cable need to give this the attention it rightly deserves.

Okay, more details on the good economic news:

  • The number of Americans without health care insurance fell to lowest point since the U.S. has been keeping data
  • 3 ½ million were lifted out of poverty
  • Pay gap between men and women shrank to its lowest level in history (women now make 80 percent of what men make)
  • Employers added 3 million jobs and unemployment fell to 5%
  • Hourly pay increased by 2 percent adjusted for inflation
  • Real household incomes rose 7.9 percent
  • Poverty rates fell most sharply for African American and Hispanic households