Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.
Monday, October 24, 2016

Washington (AFP) – In his first State of the Union address, President Lyndon Johnson declared war on poverty in America. Fifty years later some progress has been made but gaping inequality remains.

“This administration today, here and now, declares unconditional war on poverty in America,” John told Congress on January 8, 1964, two months after he succeeded the assassinated John F. Kennedy.

“We shall not rest until that war is won,” he declared.

The U.S. poverty rate has dropped from 26 percent in 1964 to 16 percent today, thanks in particular to a variety of food aid programs and tax credits, says the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

But poverty in the world’s largest economy is far from being eradicated.

In 2012 it affected some 47 million Americans, including 13 million children, which James Ziliak, director of the Center for Poverty Research at the University of Kentucky, dubs “a very high number.”

Some battles have been won, such as that targeting extreme malnutrition, or have have seen partial wins, such as the program providing health insurance for the poor and the aged, he said.
“If we did not have any safety net programs, the rate would be doubled,” he told AFP.

By any measure, poverty has gone down significantly among the elderly, which was one of Johnson’s priorities.

Poverty among children has also declined since Johnson made his famous call to arms.

But one in five kids in America still lives in poverty and more than one in five children in New York, for example, lives in a family that does not have enough to eat, the Coalition against Hunger says.

A total of 25 major cities also reported that requests for food assistance or the number of homeless had gone up in the past year, illustrating the slow pace of progress in the war on poverty.

As for the gap between rich and poor, it is progressing at a “dangerous” pace, in the words of President Barack Obama, who said last year that the richest 10 percent of no longer take in a third of all revenue but rather half.

New York City’s new mayor Bill de Blasio was elected in November on a pledge to end inequality in the nation’s largest metropolis, which has the largest number of billionaires in the world but where 21 percent of the people live below the poverty line.

In his 1964 speech Johnson also called for abolishing all forms of racial discrimination. Now, a half century later, “a large gap” in economic terms remains between white and black households, says the CBPP.

The situation is difficult because lawmakers disagree on what the solution is.

Republicans and Democrats struggle to reach agreement on levels of food aid in the so-called Snap program — Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — or food stamps, denying meals to some families.

Another programming extending jobless benefits to long-term unemployed people ran out of funds on December 31.

In 1996 an overhaul of some aid programs led to a rise in extreme poverty, mainly in single-parent homes, according to a study released in May by the University of Michigan.

But spending more money on the problem is just a partial solution, according to the Brookings Institution, a prestigious think tank.

It says that in order to wage an effective war on poverty, three factors must be addressed: education, because it is difficult to escape poverty with a good education or marketable skill; jobs, because unemployment is the “surest route to poverty, and the family, because “kids in single-parent families are about five times as likely to be poor as children in married-couple families.”

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2014 The National Memo
  • Bryan Blake

    Republican politicians know that there is one thing that they can count on: the unquestioning loyalty of their base. Unfortunately the Democrats do not enjoy that luxury. There are a couple of reasons for their base’s lack of loyalty. The Democratic Party has been pulled hard right over the past 28 years by the policies of the DLC. Although the DLC has disbanded those policies still govern the actions of the party and its politicians. Abandoning the policies of The New Deal has disenfranchised the Liberal Wing of the party. While some Liberal Democratic politicians are beginning to speak out to defend the Social Safety Net many offer half-hearted defenses and acquiesce to Republican demands to cut “entitlements” and welfare. All the while they support the hundreds of billions in “corporate welfare”. President Obama has called for cuts in Social Security and offered the “chained CPI” which is nothing more than a long term benefit cut. Many elected Democrats have simply lost their “spine”. The Republican victory of oppressing us and the economy with the “The Sequester” and their manufactured “deficit crisis” was made possible by the Democrats. Some guts would have stopped a lot of those cuts.

    The Democrats have a marginalized Left, a weak center and a strong Right make up the party. It is those that have been pulled to the right that are the crossover voters that elect Republicans. Lack of loyalty. Plain and simple. Until a leader emerges to consolidate the Party and lead it back to its traditional routes politicians like Chris Christie will continue to be elected.

    Christie is an astute politician. His embracing of President Obama during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy was a very smart political move and many many Democrats in New Jersey fell for it. It will not hurt him in 2016 because just like in New Jersey many right wing and disloyal Democrats will vote for him despite his extreme conservative positions.

  • Sand_Cat

    He’s still a right-wing bully.

  • latebloomingrandma

    Well–Christie’s in trouble now. This is the guy who, before Hurricane Sandy, engaged in the sport of Obama bashing. I remember him saying that our president is so clueless he is probably still searching for the light switches in the WH.
    Now he is espousing —-I knew nothing. He looked tired and drawn. Well, Guv., If you’re running for Obama’s job, get ready for the toughest fight of your life. The Jersey smartass act may not play in the rest of the country.

  • terry b

    Why would they ever be referred to as the right to life crowd when there truly group name would be the right to be wrong crowd!. All thinking people realized that Roe v. Wade was one of the finest decisions of the last 40 years. 7 – 2 decisions in the last 40 years have never been wrong. It was made by 7 old white men who actually thought that making a decision to abort an unwanted pregnancy is a private decision that should not be stepped on by the religious zealots who seem to permeate our country. I can’t help but despise anyone who would strip a woman of the right to choose in the 1st trimester, which 97 percent occur in. I mention the trimester because it is the time when the fetus has no developed brain or heart which is probably why so many right wingers are against it since they seem to identify these qualities within themselves. I thought that Christie was the GOP’s best chance to capture the white house but now he scares the hell out of me. New Jersey will never vote for an anti choice candidate for president just as Massachusetts would not. Next thing they will want to strip the right to vote from anyone who might not agree with them. Oh! That’s right. Voter Id laws to keep minorities from voting. Rick Perry and Rick Santorum always made me feel if they idolized Adolph Hitler with many of their speeches. Now Christie wants to repeat the same crap!!! Hope we do not let that happen. America does not need a 4th Reich.

    • mandinka

      Hitler wasn’t all that bad

      • terry b

        He just persecuted anyone that didn’t agree with him. Kind of like the current GOP. The Nazi’s didn’t do it to women, just jews, minorities and homosexuals. Sound familiar!

  • Elliot J. Stamler

    This is an unfair article. I am a New York Democrat. The headline alleges Gov. Christie, if president, could end Roe v Wade. Why? Two relevant matters are cited: that Planned Parenthood has been defunded and that he has “blocked same sex marriage.” Neither has any empirical relationship to ending Roe v Wade. I am a member of Planned Parenthood and oppose its defunding but to the extent that happens it makes it marginally more difficult for some women to obtain an abortion (which is only one service PP provides)-it hardly “ends” RvW. The second assertion is garbage and is quite typical of the left-wing ultra-liberal element which has in the past and would if it could in the future DESTROY the Democratic Party marginalizing it and permitting very conservative Republicans to be victorious. Gov. Christie took a reasoned and populist position that changing the state’s marriage laws in this unprecedented way should be put to a popular referendum—a process which is the ultimate in political democracy. I personally support gay marriage but a powerful case could be made that social/legal changes of such magnitude should be made only with popular majority agreement. Further, in light of lower case decisions, Gov. Christie unilaterally dropped further appeals on gay marriage to the state Supreme Court. How does any of this show he would end Roe v. Wade?
    If you want to guarantee this country being run by the likes of Rubio, Perry, Jindal, Bush, Santorum and their disgusting ilk, just go ahead and support strongly leftist, anti-capitalist, real socialist, and crackpot views disdained by the majority of citizens…all we need to destroy our Democratic Party is you who are McGovernites to come back into power.

    • plc97477

      If you had read more than just the title of the article you could have saved yourself from looking like an idiot.

      • Elliot J. Stamler

        I read the entire article and since all you’ve done is call me an idiot without one sentence saying why I will let others judge which of makes a credible argument and which of us is a name-calling cretin.