50th anniversary: Failed Progressive War on Poverty

Today marks the 50th anniversary President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s “War on Poverty,” a war that morphed into the expansion of the welfare nanny-state.


For the record, conservatives believe strongly in a safety net to help those who are truly deserving. However, liberals have no problem with the safety net becoming a hammock, and a very expensive one at that.

In the past 50 years America has spent some $20 trillion on this war, but what has it achieved? Unfortunately, precious little, as David Boyer of the Washington Times writes,

Fifty years after President Johnson started a $20 trillion taxpayer-funded war on poverty, the overall percentage of impoverished people in the U.S. has declined only slightly and the poor have lost ground under President Obama.

Programs such as Medicaid and Medicare are necessary, but they cannot become mandatory entitlement programs that run the risk of bankrupting our entire economy.

Our goal should be to enact policies that enable Americans to climb from dependency to independence. As Boyer points out,

Although the president often rails against income inequality in America, his policies have had little impact overall on poverty. A record 47 million Americans receive food stamps, about 13 million more than when he took office. The poverty rate has stood at 15 percent for three consecutive years, the first time that has happened since the mid-1960s. The poverty rate in 1965 was 17.3 percent; it was 12.5 percent in 2007, before the Great Recession. About 50 million Americans live below the poverty line, which the federal government defined in 2012 as an annual income of $23,492 for a family of four.

However, as Boyer reports, the president’s advisers defend his policies by saying they rescued the nation from the deep recession in 2009, saved the auto industry and reduced the jobless rate to 7 percent from a high of 10 percent four years ago. Gene Sperling, the president’s top economic adviser, said Mr. Obama has pulled as many as 9 million people out of poverty with policies such as extending the earned income tax credit for parents with three or more children and reducing the “marriage penalty.”

Read more at Allen West

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