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Feeling Trapped in Economic Uncertainty, Voters Look to Candidates for Hope

If you had a $400 unexpected expense come up right at this moment, could you pay it?

A newly released economic report on the well-being of the U.S. economy by the Federal Reserve says that 46 percent of Americans couldn’t cover a $400 unexpected expense.

Added to the finding that 31 percent of non-retired adults have no retirement savings, the economy is still on shaky ground when it comes to a large portion of America.

Another major finding was that nearly a quarter of Americans were hit with an unexpected major out-of-pocket medical bill during the preceding year, with almost half still owing money on the debt.

This is an insightful, real glimpse into the economic problems the next president and Congress will have to face.

When the bottom fell out of the oil markets, so many expected a widespread effect on the economy because of the embedded costs of oil in the production of products. The popular idea was that it would result in an economic boom for America.

Where has that been?

While food prices have been stable overall, many separate categories are still high–in particular eggs and beef. But the recent droughts and bird flu culls have more to do with that than oil prices.

In general, the American economy has been stable for the past year, but people don’t seem to be getting ahead.

Some of this is undoubtedly our consumerism lifestyle, unlimited wants available only a click away at this point. Some is due to the overall contraction of the ‘pie’ caused by wealth concentration, too few dollars chasing too many people. And some is just due to faulty expectations of the ‘American Dream,’ in that not everyone will become a ‘zillionaire.’

Whatever the cause, people are increasingly upset.

Two years ago, I wrote a piece on Nick Hanauer’s op-ed that the pitchforks are coming for ‘zillionaires’ like him if we don’t do something about it.

At the time, people laughed about the imagery. However, one look at most of Bernie Sanders’ rallies would say to me that all is missing are torches and pitchforks of economic upheaval.

Sanders has been a catalyst for people to rally to a specific cause — one that they implicitly feel (the deck is stacked, they aren’t doing great financially), but don’t have a specific answer as to how to fight against it.

With Sanders’ agenda now controlling the DNC platform, this entire election will be focused on the economic realities most Americans are facing — that even at $15 per hour, almost half of America is less than a week away from financial disaster.

Photo Credit: zimmytws / shutterstock.com

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