2003 September 09 Tuesday
Health Care Costs Rapidly Rising, Bush Declining In Polls

Health insurance premium costs are rising rapidly.

Health insurance premiums for American employees rose 13.9 percent during the past year, the biggest annual jump since 1990, according to a survey of employers released today in Washington.

As employers cut medical benefits in response to cost increases people are more worried about becoming uninsured than being attacked by terrorists.

The poll found that 33 percent of the insured worry that their income might not keep up with health premiums, while just 8 percent said they fear being a victim of a terror attack.

Dick Morris explains George W. Bush's declining approval rating in polls as a result of a declining concern about terrorism along with a rising concern about other issues.

Why is Bush falling so badly? The superficial reasons are the Iraq casualties, the failure to find WMDs and the continuing inability to round up Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. But the real reason is that terror is receding as an issue, largely due to Bush's success.

While the terrorist issue is receding people are continuing to feel bad for economic reasons. Discouraged workers are abandoning the job search and causing a lower reported unemployment rate.

Nonfarm business payrolls declined by 93,000 last month, raising the total of job losses since the start of the year to 431,000. The job cuts were the deepest in five months. Still, the unemployment rate fell a tenth of a percentage point to 6.1% as more discouraged workers dropped out of the labor force.

Probably the biggest threat to George W. Bush's reelection is the so-far jobless economic recovery caused in part by rapidly rising productivity.

Production is rising even faster this quarter than last, according to many forecasters, while yesterday's report showed that the number of hours worked nationally fell at a faster rate in July and August than it did in the April-June period. That combination points to another huge gain in productivity, several analysts said.

Whether personal economic assessments will remain as important as they are now come the date of the November 2004 vote is hard to say. A big terrorist attack could shift people's thinking away from economics even as a large attack would have enormous costs. But at this point Bush really needs an economic recovery that starts generating jobs.

If Bush wasn't so intent upon his foolish and futile pursuit of the Hispanic vote he could strengthen his support among lower class blacks and whites by reducing the competition they face in the labor market from illegal immigrants. If he announced support for a massive fence to keep out illegals and initiated mass deportations of illegal aliens this would decrease the amount of competition that low income Americans face in the labor market. Doing that alone would probably get him reelected. The Steve Sailer strategy for California could work nationally.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2003 September 09 02:27 PM  Economics Political


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