The Counteroffensive on the War on Poverty

Posted in the Minneapolis Forum

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Dallas, TX

#1 Sep 29, 2013
On Jan. 8, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson, in his state of the union address, declared a “War on Poverty.” At the time the poverty rate in the United States was 19 percent. Today that number is 15 percent; however, those two numbers do not tell the complete story.

If you were to listen to the right-wing noise machine you would think the War on Poverty was an abject failure. April 11, 2012, and I am sure many times before and after that date, the CATO institute published an article that concluded with, "[O]ur current $1 trillion War on Poverty is a failure."

The only reason that the CATO institute is able to say those words is because of self-fulfilling prophecy. Prior to Ronald Reagan coming to office the poverty rate in the United States was 11.4 percent. Under his guidance the poverty rate climbed to 15 percent after a State of the Union address in which he said:

In the welfare culture, the breakdown of the family, the most basic support system, has reached crisis proportions — in female and child poverty, child abandonment, horrible crimes and deteriorating schools. After hundreds of billions of dollars in poverty programs, the plight of the poor grows more painful. But the waste in dollars and cents pales before the most tragic loss — the sinful waste of human spirit and potential.
With his Welfare Cadillac meme and his absolute lies about poverty in America Ronald Reagan began dismantling the safety net – a safety net that saves children from starvation, a safety net that gives hope of a better tomorrow. How can we expect children to learn if they go to school hungry? How can we expect teachers to teach children who spent last night in the backseat of a car? How can we expect those who are living in poverty to get out when we take away the one thing they desperately need – hope. Public assistance gives hope and without hope the cycle of poverty will continue.
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