"Have-Lots" vs. "Have-Nots" in Connecticut

As the Times stokes recession fears, two liberal labor-backed groups, The Economic Policy Institute and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, have become quite popular with the Times, and their work is cited again in Alison Leigh Cowan's Wednesday Metro report, "Income Gap in Connecticut Is Growing Fastest, Study Finds."

It'd be one the thing if the Times would consistently identify these liberal groups as liberal, but Cowan doesn't, and actually takes emotional cues from them, throwing in her own rhetoric about "the have-lots and the have-nots." But first, the bizarre story of a woman who is applying for food stamps and attending birthday parties on yachts.

Marie Wendorff knows better than most about Connecticut's economic contradictions.

Byage 38, Ms. Wendorff had accumulated the trophies of suburban life: a picturesque 3,800-square-foot Colonial house in Wilton, membership in the local country club, a ski house in Windham, N.Y., and a 24-foot boat docked in Long Island Sound. But a messy divorce in 2004 pushed her into bankruptcy.

On the same day in the summer of 2005 that she applied for food stamps, she was invited to attend a friend's birthday party on a yacht.

"It's like two different worlds," said Ms. Wendorff, a mother of three who has struggled to keep her family afloat amid a sea of wealth.

According to a new study by two groups based in Washington, the Economic Policy Institute and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the income gap between the have-lots and the have-nots is widening faster in Connecticut than in any other state.

Adjusting census data for inflation, the study compared average family incomes from 2004 to 2006 with those from 1987 to 1989. In Connecticut, income increased by $52,439, or 45 percent, for the top fifth of Connecticut households, while the bottom fifth's income dropped $4,437, or 17 percent.

The study, released on Tuesday, also found that Connecticut is the only state in the nation where the poorest 20 percent of people lost real ground over the last 20 years (the loss in Rhode Island, $992, or 5 percent, was deemed statistically insignificant).

Cowan provided only a brief caveat:

The study's authors adjusted family income for federal taxes but not state and local taxes. So the study may not accurately capture the gap in high-tax states like New York that tax high earners for the benefit of those who are struggling.

And the study ended in 2006, well before problems in the subprime mortgage market roiled the stock market and swept away some of the fortunes and jobs of those reaping the benefits of a strong economy.

Then she quoted the report's authors, who admitted they're pushing income tax hikes in the state houses.

Besidesspewing statistics from thereport with no rebuttal, Cowan quoted five people, all of whom agreed the income gap was a problem, and only one, a Republican in the State Senate, who came out against raising taxes on the wealthy.