Democrats Celebrate 50 Years of Defeat in the War on Poverty
January 08, 2014
RUSH: Today it's the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty. Did you know that? So today we're celebrating 50 years of defeat in the War on Poverty. But it's a valiant effort that we continue to make, 50 years of defeat in the War on Poverty. Robert Rector has rerun the numbers. The amount of money that we have spent in income redistribution is stunning. I have that number. I have to make my own number here. Take a break. We'll be back and continue in mere moments. Don't go away.
RUSH: Robert Rector, Heritage Foundation, the expert on the War on Poverty. Whatever it is you want to know about poverty and our efforts to eradicate it in this country, Robert Rector at Heritage is the scholar; he's the expert. Here's the number. We have spent $20.7 trillion on means-tested aid since 1964. In other words, we have redistributed $20.7 trillion trying to wipe out poverty, and as Rector points out, the poverty rate expressed as a percentage of the population is pretty much exactly where it was in the mid-sixties, 14%.
Now, in the early nineties the number was five trillion. From 1964 to, say, 1992-93, the number of dollars transferred was five trillion. We've added $15 trillion of transfer payments since the early to mid-nineties, approximately 20 years. So now we got almost $21 trillion in redistributed wealth, taken from the haves and given to the have-nots. And we haven't changed anything. As a percentage, there are as many people in poverty today as when this whole War on Poverty started. It's an abject failure. It's been an absolute disaster.
But we're not supposed to look at that. We're supposed look at the intentions of those who started the War on Poverty. That would be LBJ and the New Deal Democrats of sixties, and it's their intentions that we are to judge, that we are to be moved by. "At least they tried. At least they tried. You didn't even want to do anything for 'em," is how the refrain goes. But it's not working. Hello, Obamacare and Medicare, Social Security, you name it, same story. In every Big Government attempt to cure a social or economic problem that is structurally societal, a dismal failure.
Here is Jane in Scottsdale, Arizona, one of the nicest places in this country. Jane, how are you?
CALLER: I am very well in our 70 degrees. How's that global warming working out for everybody?
RUSH: He-he-he-he-he-he. Yes.
CALLER: As part of the Democratic circle of life -- I like to call it that -- I'm appalled at the $6 billion we just borrowed again, 'cause God knows we don't have it, to extend unemployment for people, especially able-bodied people who have been unemployed for over two years and say they want to work, yet we give them this unemployment, these taxpayer dollars and don't ask anything in return. We don't ask them to do community service. We don't ask them to go out and clean up the highways and do jobs and earn it. I don't understand. I'm just so appalled, I can't even breathe.
RUSH: (laughing) You're doing a good job of it.
CALLER: Oh, my word. The unions wouldn't allow it. That's what the problem is. The unions would not allow these people to go out and --
RUSH: You know the explanation for this as well as I do. These people fit perfectly the definition of victim. So here's Obama, whose economic policies are responsible for a shrinking private sector, which means shrinking job market, shrinking income opportunity, shrinking opportunity to increase your standard of living. Everything about the private sector is shrinking. So, his policies have brought this about. But Obama still is engaging in the Limbaugh Theorem, which holds that he's not responsible for any of this, nor is he accountable. He's still trying to fix it. And so in that vein, these people are victims of an unfair, immoral, unjust country that is controlled by the rich, who will not share any that they are stealing from everybody else. And so requiring these people to do something for their unemployment benefits like look for work or walk the highways and picking up junk, they've already been victimized enough, Jane, don't you get it?
CALLER: Poor babies. They give me a rash. You know, we could have 20,000 jobs just with the Keystone pipeline alone. I think our politicians are for sale. They go to Washington, DC, and they lose any modicum of integrity or honor.
RUSH: It is a problem, there is no question.
CALLER: It's just horrendous. And I can't tell you how I appreciate your taking my call.
RUSH: Well, I'm happy that you got through.
CALLER: Oh, I am, too. And I wish you a Happy New Year, and please hold the banner high for we constitutional conservatives.
RUSH: Always. Always. It's worth fighting for, and it is winnable. I still firmly believe that. As bleak as it can seem on a daily basis, I still think it's winnable. And, as such, I'm still in the game. No reason not to be. But it is frustrating. It helps somewhat, just a little bit, to understand it all. And the unemployed are just perfect for Obama. People in misery, suffering economically, made to order for his agenda, because he's allowed, he's permitted to say, "See? The way America's always been is unfair. Look at all of these people out of work. Look at all the rich getting richer, and look at all this income inequality. It's time to do it a different way, my way."
And that's what we're in the middle of here. And so any opportunity Obama has to portray people in distress, and at the same time portray himself as singularly focused on helping them, is made to order. Because the more people who are victims, the greater the opportunity for Obama to blame America for it, not anybody else. And that's what we're in the midst of.
So when you say, "Well, they ought to have to do something for it or at least say thanks," no. Their lives are already miserable because of you and me, Jane. They don't owe us anything. It is we who owe them." That's how Obama wants them to look at it -- and, by the way, human nature is such that anybody would much prefer somebody else be blamed for their circumstances than to blame themselves.
So if you got a president coming along absolving you of any responsibility for your own plight, you're gonna eat that up. It's somebody else's fault. It's the country's fault. It's the rich's fault. It's society's fault, culture's fault, whatever. That is what's so despicable to me about the leadership in this country today. It's just unconscionable. (interruption) It is true; he loves the unemployed so much he's making more and more of 'em.
There are 91 million Americans not working, but they are all eating -- and a lot of people are at the Consumer Electronics Show trying to pick out their next big screen. In fact, I got an e-mail, "Why don't you talk that? You're big into gadgets. Why don't you ever talk about the Consumer Electronics Show?" For one reason: 99% of the stuff that's on display will never hit the market. The second reason: The stuff that does won't be for two or three years. The third reason: Apple isn't there, so there's nothing worth having.
Back after this.
RUSH: Washington Times: "Poverty Level Under Obama Breaks 50-Year Record." The poverty level under Obama has broken a 50-year record. Let me give you a couple of pull quotes from the story "Of the 37.6 million people who were poor at the beginning of 2009, 26.4 percent remained in poverty throughout the next 34 months, the report said. Another 12.6 million people escaped poverty during that time, but 13.5 million more fell into poverty," which is an interesting point, once again, to make.
Poverty is expressed as an income level. Most economists break down income in America to five brackets, called quintiles, and people move in and out of these. The top quintile, I think, is like a million plus, and that'd be the top 1% of 1%. I forgot what the breakdown is, but the poverty level, it's roughly, what, $14,000 for a family of four? It's around there. People move in and out of these all the time.
However you're born doesn't mean you're going to die in the same quintile. Now, the Democrat Party wants everybody to believe that the poor are permanently poor. They're born that way, and the only way out of it is with government assistance -- and it's BS. Once again, someone I knew lost $200 million fortune twice, both times in commodities. Twice he was broke. People move in and out of these levels at all times.
The point about poverty is that since the War on Poverty began in 1964, we have spent, we've transferred $20.7 trillion. There has been income redistribution, taking from the haves, giving to the have-nots, of over $20 trillion, and the percentage of people in poverty hasn't changed. It's 14%, roughly. The numbers change 'cause the population changes, the hard numbers. But the percentage doesn't. This experiment's been done, by the way. You can take a millionaire, and then take somebody who earns 30 grand.
Put 'em side by side and take everything away from both of them and come back in a year. The millionaire will have most of it back. The guy earning 30 will be at 30. The point of that illustration is you can take all you want, but entrepreneurs, producers, hard workers are gonna go do what it takes to get it back. Everybody's different. There are different ambitions, levels of ambition, desire, education, overall intelligence, ability.
Yet the Democrats want to make everybody the same, particularly when it comes to outcomes. It's not possible. So everything's done under the rubric of fixing the inequality that exists -- and that's what sucks in a bunch of young people, by the way. That, to them, is the essence of compassion: Everybody being equal. Nobody should be denied. There should be "equality," is a magic word, when they're young, idealistic and so forth. Let's go back and listen to LBJ. This is 1964, January 8th, on Capitol Hill, his State of the Union speech announcing the War on Poverty.
JOHNSON: This administration today, here and now, declares unconditional War on Poverty in America. It will not be a short or easy struggle. No single weapon or strategy will suffice. But we shall not rest until that war is won president the richest nation on earth can afford to win it we cannot afford to lose it. One thousand dollars invested in salvaging an unemployable youth today can return $40,000 or more in his lifetime.
RUSH: So we see where this inanity, this insanity of unemployment benefits creates jobs. Unemployment benefits creates economic growth. It's $20 trillion we've spent, folks, since 1964, and poverty continues to win. We have lost the War on Poverty. We've not even come close to winning the War on Poverty -- and throughout the vast majority of these years, this War on Poverty has been fought with weapons designed by the Democrat Party, and they're ineffectual (they don't work, for those of you in Rio Linda) and in fact, arguably, they make it worse.
Here's more from LBJ. Same rhetoric, by the way. You'll see the rhetoric doesn't change. This is same speech, January 8th, 1964, State of the Union address.
JOHNSON: Lack of jobs and money are not the cause of poverty, but the symptom. The cause may lie deeper in our failure to give our fellow citizens a fair chance to develop their own capacities, in a lack of education and training, in a lack of medical care and housing, in a lack of decent communities in which to live and bring up their children. Our joint federal-local effort must pursue poverty, pursue it wherever it exists -- in city slums and small towns, in sharecropper shacks or in migrant worker camps, on Indian reservations among whites as well as Negroes -- among the young as well as the aged, in the boomtowns and in the depressed areas.
RUSH: So the thing to take away is, this is 1964. It's a Democrat president, and the Democrat Party's view of this country has not changed. They still look out over the horizon and see misery and decrepit-ness, unhappiness -- and look at Johnson's solutions. Education, job training, medical care, housing. That hasn't changed. The same weapons, the same language, the same way they tug at heartstrings. It's 1964, and they keep using the same lingo, obviously because it works. But look at how our education system's been since 1964 with them in charge.
RUSH: Still unbelievable: $20.7 trillion effectively spent on the War on Poverty, but it's where that money came from. Just round it off, $20 trillion. That's more than the national debt, folks. The national debt's $17 trillion. Twenty trillion to wipe out poverty. And of course it hasn't wiped out poverty. That money has been transferred, redistributed via taxes from producers to non-producers and it still hasn't made any difference.
The Democrat Party claims to want to help people. What they actually do is grow government. What they're really interested in is expanding government, not helping people. Conservatives literally, factually want to help people. Have you ever noticed, I'm sure you have. It may not have registered, but when I point it out to you, you'll go, "Oh, yeah." The American left, the Democrat Party, is this close to claiming the war on drugs is a failure. And there are many elements of this in the Democrat Party, "Come on, we're making it worse with what we're doing. The war on drugs is just making it worse. We're creating this mystique. We're making criminals out of people. It's an absolute disaster. We gotta stop this war on drugs. It's an absolute failure."
Where is that thinking in the War on Poverty? Interesting, isn't it? I think it is. By the way, one thing on this, before I get to the Ronaldus Magnus sound bites, also from 1964. You just heard LBJ, and you heard his view the country, which is identical to the Democrat Party's view of America today. They look out and they see a decrepit education system that they have been running for all of these years. It's amazing. You listen to LBJ, and it's the same language. "We need to increase our education spending. We need affordable housing. We need job training. We need health care improvement."
It's the same stuff they're saying today. And it's they who've been in charge for most of these years trying to fix all this stuff. What are we up to now, 20 grand a student in New Jersey. For 20 grand a student, you know what you could do? You could hire the best professors wherever you find 'em, whatever university you wanted, you could hire the best professors for every class, you could hire limousines to take every kid to and from school every day, and you could take the kid across the bridge to 21 for lunch in Manhattan for what we are spending per student on education in New Jersey or New York.
You look at New York, the dropout rate, New York City, 50%, folks. Washington, DC, ditto. Look at the amount of money we're spending. And, of course, you mention this to the left. "Well, you can't look at it that way. That's not a correct picture, the amount of money per student. That doesn't tell you anything." What the hell it doesn't tell us anything. It sure as hell does. Where's that money going? What's it buying? It certainly isn't buying improved education, test scores, what have you. It's propping up a bunch of union people in jobs, is what it's doing. It's not being spent on education. It's being used to pay off unions for their loyal support of the Democrat Party, in large measure.
RUSH: let's listen to Reagan, just as a contrast to LBJ. This is October 27, 1964. It's the speech that Reagan gave for Goldwater, right before the election in '64.
REAGAN: We have so many people that can't see a fat man standing beside a thin one without coming to the conclusion the fat man got that way by taking advantage of the thin one. So they're gonna solve all the problems of human misery through government and government planning. Well, now, if government planning and welfare had the answer -- and they've had almost 30 years of it -- shouldn't we expect government to read the score to us once in a while? Shouldn't they be telling us about the decline each year in the number of people needing help, the reduction in the need for public housing? But the reverse is true. Each year the need grows greater; the program grows greater.
RUSH: Exactly right. They can't tell us how the program is working 'cause it isn't working. You know, Jack Kemp is the first I heard say this, and I've assumed it was original to him, but it's exactly right. We conservatives define compassion not by how many people are receiving assistance. We define compassion by counting the number of people who no longer need it. That's real compassion. And that's what the great Ronaldus Magnus was saying here.
Well, okay, we've been doing this for 30 years. How's it working? What's the score? Can you give us the stats on how many people are no longer in poverty? Can you give us the numbers on how many people now no longer need government housing? And not only are those numbers never made public, the numbers never reduce. In fact, the numbers grow. More people in poverty, more people in public housing. Then the Democrats blame that on Republicans. And then they say, "See? We need even be more help. We need to be even bigger. We need even bigger government." Here's more Reagan.
REAGAN: We were told four years ago that 17 million people went to bed hungry each night. Well, that was probably true. They were all on a diet.
REAGAN: But now we're told that 9.3 million families in this country are poverty stricken on the basis of earning less than $3,000 a year. Welfare spending is ten times greater than it was in the dark depths of the Depression. We're spending $45 billion on welfare. Now, do a little arithmetic and you'll find that if we divided the $45 billion up equally among those nine million poor families, we'd be able to give each family $4,600 a year, and this added to their present income should eliminate poverty.
REAGAN: Direct aid to the poor, however, is only running about $600 per family. It would seem that someplace there must be some overhead.
RUSH: That led to the discovery of a startling statistic. You know what the administrative cost...? This is 20-year-old data. It's got to be higher now. Twenty years ago, the administrative cost of $1 of welfare was 72¢. Meaning, ladies and gentlemen, 20 years ago, every $1 allocated for welfare spending, 28¢ ended up with a welfare recipient. So 72% ended up somewhere in the administration, in the bureaucracies that were distributing the aid, and that's what Reagan meant by overhead. A charity today would be hauled into jail for that. Yes, 72¢of every $1 did not get to an intended recipient 20 years ago.
This is Reagan's famous line about liberals in context.
REAGAN: So now we declare "war" on poverty. Do they honestly expect us to believe that if we add $1 billion to the $45 billion we're spending, one more program to the 30-odd we have -- and, remember, this new program doesn't replace any; it just duplicates existing programs. Do they believe that poverty is suddenly going to disappear by magic? Yet any time you and I question the schemes of the do-gooders, we're denounced as being against their humanitarian goals. They say we're always against things, we're never for anything. Well, the trouble with our liberal friends is not that they're ignorant. It's just that they know so much that isn't so.
RUSH: He was being charitable with that. They know what they don't know. They know what they're doing. They know they're running a scam, and they're getting away with it gloriously. The scam is, they have the compassion. The scam is, they are the humanitarians. The scam is, they're the ones who care.
RUSH: I've got a story here, the actual amount of money we are spending per family on welfare is $60,000 per family. Now, Reagan's example in that sound bite we played, $4,600. In 1964 we were spending $4,600 a family. He said give that to every family and you'd wipe out poverty. Well, give every family the $60,000 in cash that we are spending per family and you'd wipe out poverty. The problem is we don't have the money for that, either.
Now, arguably you could do that one time, then you're back where you started, but I better be quiet. The Democrats might actually, "You mean, just minimum wage, 60 grand, family of four, just pay everybody 60 grand?" Yeah, let's do it. Wipe out poverty. Win the War on Poverty. Shhh. Some people might think that could be a solution rather than an illustration of just how bastardized all of this has become.