David Wescott writes:
...the bits of data I'd give the Senator tomorrow would probably include the following:
Home forclosures rose 68 percent in November from the previous November.... Because the US savings rate is so low, people have been relying on their houses as a source of wealth and equity. When adjustable rate mortgages reset, wages remained relatively stagnant, and other costs (like healthcare) continued to rise, people lost their houses. That's a financial and emotional hit that most people won't ever forget.
[Editorial intrusion: foreclosures have risen from a rate of 1.5 million a year last year--about 2.5% of homes being foreclosed upon in a year--to 2.5 milliion a year--about 4% of homes being foreclosed upon in a year--this year. Mortgage resets are proceeding at a pace of about 2 million a year.]
20 million Americans will use credit cards to pay for home heating this winter. This is obviously a double-whammy. Energy costs are up - frankly, due to demand more than anything else - and people don't have the available cash to make up the difference. This cash flow issue (probably caused by higher mortgage and rent costs, higher health care costs, and stagnant wages) will effectively increase home heating costs by up to 20 percent when you consider interest carried over a few months...
More Americans will have catastrophic health expenses in 2008. Nearly 1 in 4 Americans under the age of 65 live in a family that will spend more than 10 percent of that family's pre-tax income on health expenses. More than 80 percent of these people have health insurance. This sounds like a health statistic, but it's unquestionably an "economic indicator" in my book...
[The better statistic for the senator, I think, is "17.8 million non-elderly Americans—-more than three-quarters of whom have health insurance—-are in families that will spend more than 25 percent of their pre-tax income on health care costs in 2008.]