Monday, February 19, 2018
Editorials

Lost wealth and a long climb back

The numbers are grim. The median American family lost 40 percent of its net worth between 2007 and 2010. Middle class incomes fell and fewer families could afford to save, while those who could socked money away for emergencies, not college or a home or retirement. The survey by the Federal Reserve offers a sobering view of the slog ahead — and a road map for what still needs to be done by government at every level.

The Fed hardly caught middle class Americans by surprise with Monday's report. But it shows in greater detail the depth of the economic crisis and the impact it likely will have on the nation for generations. The net worth of the median American family (richer than half, poorer than the other half) dropped to $77,300 in 2010 from $126,400 three years earlier. That drop erased nearly two decades of accumulated prosperity. Most families suffered from the loss in housing values caused by the real estate collapse. The loss fell most heavily on the middle class, because wealth for middle Americans is largely tied up in their homes.

Families with incomes in the top and bottom 20 percent of the population sustained smaller hits. Wealthier families have more diversified income streams and investment portfolios that better protect them from swings in wages and housing. Poorer families had less to lose to start with; many also received public grants and assistance under the federal stimulus package. Still, the recession remade the jobs landscape, driving millions into lower-paid and part-time work that lower wage-earners had historically used as stepping stones into the middle class. And the loss of income power depressed consumer demand, which continues to weigh down the global economy.

Things would have been worse without the federal stimulus. But sustaining and strengthening the recovery will require more robust action by the federal government. That means passing a transportation bill and other jobs bills, persuading banks to agree to meaningful mortgage relief, reaching a long-term budget deal that reduces the deficit with a combination of less spending and more revenue, and strengthening the oversight of financial services. President Barack Obama has the opportunity during a speech today in Cleveland to more directly address the canard of the presumptive Republican nominee. Mitt Romney argues with increasing fervor that the middle class will do best if Washington sticks with the tired conservative philosophy of less regulation and more tax cuts.

But it was a hands-off Washington that enabled the mortgage and financial crisis to mushroom. As the Federal Reserve survey makes clear, the decline in incomes was most pronounced among highly educated families, those headed by middle-aged people and those living in the fast-growing South and West — including Florida. States and local governments also can help by not resurrecting the same go-for-broke development policies that encouraged the real estate bubble in the first place. The first step in recovering two decades of household wealth is not repeating the mistakes that caused it to evaporate.

Comments
Editorial: Trumpís rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Editorial: Trumpís rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Itís not popular in Washington or virtually anywhere else these days to express concern about the rising federal deficit. Congressional Republicans who used to be deficit hawks first voted to cut taxes by $1.5 trillion over the next decade, then rais...
Published: 02/17/18
Editorial: Buckhorn should not appeal verdict in firefighterís case

Editorial: Buckhorn should not appeal verdict in firefighterís case

The city of Tampa should have taken Tanja Vidovic seriously from the start when the Tampa firefighter complained about her treatment in the workplace. Now that a jury and judge have spoken, itís time for City Hall to cut its losses, learn from its mi...
Published: 02/15/18
Updated: 02/16/18
Editorial: CareerSource troubles mount as public trust drops

Editorial: CareerSource troubles mount as public trust drops

The dark cloud enveloping Tampa Bayís job placement centers keeps growing. There are accusations of forged documents, evidence of nepotism and concerns about grossly inflated performance numbers that could be tied to receiving more public money and b...
Published: 02/15/18
Updated: 02/16/18
Editorials: Prayers and platitudes after shootings arenít enough

Editorials: Prayers and platitudes after shootings arenít enough

Even before the victims of another mass shooting at another public school were identified, Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, state legislators and members of Congress rushed to South Florida or to social media to offer their thoughts and p...
Published: 02/15/18
Editorial: DCF review should get to the bottom of Hillsborough foster care issues

Editorial: DCF review should get to the bottom of Hillsborough foster care issues

The Florida Department of Children and Families is right to call for a timely and "comprehensive" review of Hillsborough Countyís foster care system. Though the probe is a reaction to a recent case involving a child who was left unattended, the revie...
Published: 02/14/18

A Washington Post editorial: Modernize 911 calling before it becomes an emergency

This Friday marks the 50th anniversary of the first 911 emergency call placed in the United States. Since then, uncounted lives have been saved and people helped. It has been a great accomplishment of government.But even as an estimated 240 million 9...
Published: 02/13/18
Updated: 02/14/18
Editorial: Scott, Cabinet cannot be trusted on felonsí voting rights

Editorial: Scott, Cabinet cannot be trusted on felonsí voting rights

Gov. Rick Scott always has been grudging and imperious about restoring the voting rights of felons, requiring them to wait for years before begging the governor and Cabinet to be recognized again as citizens. That arrogance is on full display in a le...
Published: 02/13/18
Another voice: ĎDreamersí donít know whom to trust on immigration

Another voice: ĎDreamersí donít know whom to trust on immigration

Immigrants brought into this country illegally as children by their parents may be wondering whom to trust. The political theater being played out in Washington hasnít settled the status of either the "Dreamers" or the estimated 11 million other undo...
Published: 02/13/18
Editorial: Promising Tampa stadium site for Rays

Editorial: Promising Tampa stadium site for Rays

While it came as little surprise, the Tampa Bay Raysí selection of an Ybor City site near Tampaís Channel District as the best spot for a new stadium is an important milestone in the effort to keep Major League Baseball. Now comes the hard work of de...
Published: 02/09/18
Editorial: Senate should reject Houseís attack on public schools

Editorial: Senate should reject Houseís attack on public schools

After pummeling public education so soundly last year, itís little surprise Republican state legislators are mounting another attack on public schools, teachers and local districts. The mammoth education bill passed by the House last week is loaded w...
Published: 02/08/18
Updated: 02/13/18