The War on Poverty—$21 Trillion Later
By Matthew Vadum
The War on Poverty -- $21 Trillion Later
Fifty years and trillions of dollars after the “War on Poverty” was launched, poor Americans aren’t much better off, according to a study published by Republican reformers in Congress.
The War on Poverty has barely made a dent in actual poverty, states the 205-page report unveiled last month by the House Budget Committee, which is chaired by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.).
The paper, created in the hope of starting a discussion in Congress about reforming America’s bungled poor-relief programs, came out before Ryan released the GOP’s new budgetary blueprint yesterday that lays out how to balance the budget in 10 years. That document calls for reducing federal government spending by $5.1 trillion over a decade largely by getting a grip on out-of-control social programs. The House Budget Committee could vote on the fiscal plan as soon as Friday. Leadership in the Democrat-dominated Senate, which hasn’t even tried to adopt a budget in recent years, isn’t planning to craft a fiscal blueprint this year, either.
The heart of the War on Poverty report is its observation that most federal poverty-alleviation programs are essentially useless or incapable of having their impact measured in the real world.
The study observes that in 1965, the poverty rate was 17.3 percent. In 2012, it was 15 percent. This means taxpayers blew a staggering $20.7 trillion over the last half century in order to achieve a paltry 2.3 percentage point decrease in poverty.
The War on Poverty has barely made a dent in actual poverty
Broken down into less mind-blowing, easier-to-grasp figures, between 1965 and 2012 the average family of four spent roughly $146,000 per percentage-point drop in poverty, or $335,000 per family for the whole 2.3 percentage-point reduction.
Only the most blinkered or jaded among us in the body politic believe that sucking $9 trillion out of the private, productive economy for each single percentage-point reduction in the poverty rate constitutes an acceptable return on investment.
Which brings us to the modern “progressive” Left.
Those on the Left consider the gentle statistical dip in poverty over five decades to be social progress achieved by way of holy coercive redistribution. Mere results have always been less important to the Left than intentions.
Although a sane person would consider the extremely modest reduction in poverty a humiliating defeat, left-wingers have successfully been changing the subject, hurling epithets, smearing opponents, and intimidating adversaries, all in an effort to move the discussion away from their 50 years of human misery-generating policy failures.
The Obama White House self-servingly slices and dices the statistics to portray the War on Poverty as a smashing, if flawed, success.
While the Obama administration admits that some of the government’s poverty-fighting approaches are less than optimal, President’s Obama Council of Economic Advisers issued a ringing endorsement of the War on Poverty.
According to that body, poverty has declined by more than one-third since 1967. “The percent of the population in poverty when measured to include tax credits and other benefits has declined from 25.8 percent in 1967 to 16.0 percent in 2012.” Predictably, the council opines that “[d]espite real progress in the War on Poverty, there is more work to do.”
The council also obsequiously slaps President Obama on the back, praising him for taking steps to “further increase opportunity and economic security by improving key programs while ensuring greater efficiency and integrity.”
It then moves from servile flattery to outright revisionism, claiming that Obama’s actions have “prevented millions of hardworking Americans from slipping into poverty during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.”
OBAMA: Big government, a lawless administration, and radical attacks on civil society aren’t worth worrying about
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