Carter: Middle class today resembles past's poor - New York News

Carter: Middle class today resembles past's poor

Posted: Updated:

LISA LEFF

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Former President Jimmy Carter said Monday that the income gap in the United States has increased to the point where members of the middle class resemble the Americans who lived in poverty when he occupied the White House.

Carter offered his assessment of the nation's economic challenges Monday at a Habitat for Humanity construction site in Oakland — the first of five cities he and wife Rosalynn plan to visit this week to commemorate their three-decade alliance with the international nonprofit that promotes and builds affordable housing.

The recent economic downturn revealed that families living in even comparatively well-off, but expensive regions like the San Francisco Bay Area are economically insecure, he said.

"Even in one of the wealthiest parts of the world there is a great deal of foreclosures and now a great deal of people who are fortunate to own their own houses owe more on them than the houses are worth in the present market, and that's all changed in the last eight years," Carter said during an exclusive interview with The Associated Press.

Taking a break from framing windows at a new 12-unit town house development in a section of East Oakland where Habitat already has built or repaired 115 homes, the 89-year-old former Democratic president said the federal government is investing less in affordable housing at a time of greater need.

"The disparity between rich people and poor people in America has increased dramatically since when we started," he said. "The middle class has become more like poor people than they were 30 years ago. So I don't think it's getting any better."

Years of tax breaks for the wealthy, a minimum wage untethered from the inflation rate and electoral districts drawn to maximize political polarization have reduced the quality of life for all but a small fraction of Americans and imperiled the nation's standing as "a real superpower," he said.

"Equity of taxation and treating the middle class with a great deal of attention, providing funding for people in true need, like for affordable housing, those are the sort of things that would pay rich dividends for Americans no matter what kind of income they have," said Carter, looking relaxed in a baseball cap, blue jeans and white sneakers.

"The richest people in America would be better off if everybody lived in a decent home and had a chance to pay for it, and if everyone had enough income even if they had a daily job to be good buyers for the products that are produced."

Habitat for Humanity was founded in Georgia, the home state of the Carters. They first joined a Habitat for Humanity work site in 1984 in New York and have spent a week every year working on construction sites in the U.S. and abroad.

On Tuesday, the former president and first lady are scheduled to help renovate homes in a section of Silicon Valley that has remained immune to the wealth generated by the high-tech industry. After that, they intend to travel to Denver, New York and Union Beach, N.J., where they will help rebuild homes wiped out by Hurricane Sandy.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • Attractive players in tennis, help or hurt?

    Attractive players in tennis, help or hurt?

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 1:19 PM EDT2014-08-27 17:19:52 GMT
    The U.S. Open is underway in Queens and there's no denying that many of the players, both men and women, are in great physical shape and know how to play that up. Women are particularly promoted in the industry as attractive, fashionable and fiercely competitive. Does that help the game and draw more people in?
    The U.S. Open is underway in Queens and there's no denying that many of the players, both men and women, are in great physical shape and know how to play that up. Women are particularly promoted in the industry as attractive, fashionable and fiercely competitive. Does that help the game and draw more people in?
  • Cuomo orders investigation into Time Warner outage

    Cuomo orders investigation into Time Warner outage

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 1:15 PM EDT2014-08-27 17:15:06 GMT
    Time Warner Cable suffered a nationwide outage primarily impacting its Internet service on Wednesday morning. More than 11 million customers were affected.  Several hours later, NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered an investigation into the outage. "I have directed the New York State Department of Public Service to investigate this outage as part of its review of Comcast's proposed merger with Time Warner," said Cuomo.
    Time Warner Cable suffered a nationwide outage primarily impacting its Internet service on Wednesday morning. More than 11 million customers were affected.  Several hours later, NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered an investigation into the outage. "I have directed the New York State Department of Public Service to investigate this outage as part of its review of Comcast's proposed merger with Time Warner," said Cuomo.
  • Man kills wife, wounds self at NJ hospital

    Man kills wife, wounds self at NJ hospital

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 11:50 AM EDT2014-08-27 15:50:16 GMT
    Authorities say a man fatally shot his wife and wounded himself at a hospital in southern New Jersey. Camden County Prosecutor's Office spokesman Jason Laughlin says the shooting happened Wednesday at Kennedy University Hospital in Stratford. The man was being treated for his injuries.
    Authorities say a man fatally shot his wife and wounded himself at a hospital in southern New Jersey. Camden County Prosecutor's Office spokesman Jason Laughlin says the shooting happened Wednesday at Kennedy University Hospital in Stratford. The man was being treated for his injuries.

Powered by WorldNow
Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices