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Monday, January 13, 2014

President Obama and the War on Poverty

Last week, President Obama said:
As Americans, we believe that everyone who works hard deserves a chance at opportunity, and that all our citizens deserve some basic measure of security. And so, 50 years ago, President Johnson declared a War on Poverty to help each and every American fulfill his or her basic hopes. We created new avenues of opportunity through jobs and education, expanded access to health care for seniors, the poor, and Americans with disabilities, and helped working families make ends meet. Without Social Security, nearly half of seniors would be living in poverty. Today, fewer than one in seven do. Before Medicare, only half of seniors had some form of health insurance. Today, virtually all do. And because we expanded pro-work and pro-family programs like the Earned Income Tax Credit, a recent study found that the poverty rate has fallen by nearly 40% since the 1960s, and kept millions from falling into poverty during the Great Recession.
Lloyd Green writes:
Sadly, in his attempt to make all government programs equal and beneficiaries the same, Obama got sloppy with the facts, and worse, dismissive of working Americans. For the record, Social Security was FDR’s brainchild and has been around since 1935. It is not a Great Society legacy.
Furthermore, Obama forgot that he is the one calling for cuts to Social Security, over protests from Senate Democrats. As The Hill reports. “Obama proposed nearly $1 trillion in spending cuts in his budget, including a switch to using the Chained Consumer Price Index (CPI), which liberal policy experts estimate could cost seniors thousands of dollars in benefits over their lifetimes. 
Finally, Social Security and Medicare are the antithesis of food stamps and Medicaid. Unlike Medicaid and food stamps whose only criterion for eligibility is indigence, Social Security and Medicare are earned through a lifetime of work. Somehow, the notion that benefits must be earned may have been too much for the one-time community organizer
As for the other part of the war on poverty, Obama was more circumspect. He didn’t talk about how nearly 60 percent of births born in New York City are to households receiving Medicaid.
Nor did the president comment on the decoupling of reproduction from marriage, and its relationship to poverty. In his speech, Obama even ignored the question previously posed by Kay Hymowitz of the Manhattan Institute about the recent New York Times profile of Dasani Coates, “Did Inequality Make Dasani Homeless?