The failed 50-year 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.”

So why do we need unemployment benefits extended even further? Our workforce participation rate has decreased meaning if we had the same amount of individuals in the workforce as in 2009, the US unemployment rate would be closer to 11-12 percent.

The truth is, in spite of the administration’s anti-poverty efforts, poverty has by some measures worsened under President Obama compared to President George W. Bush. The U.S. Census Bureau reported that 31.6 percent of Americans were in poverty for at least two months from 2009 to 2011, a 4.5 percentage point increase over the pre-recession period of 2005 to 2007. 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.

One of the most disturbing results of this 50 year war was articulated by Robert Rector, a specialist on welfare and poverty at the conservative Heritage Foundation, “When the war on poverty started, about 6 percent of children were born outside of marriage,” he said. “Today that’s 42 percent — catastrophe.”

It was President Johnson’s policy of rewarding women who had children out of wedlock, and kept a father out of the home, with government largesse — it has caused an epidemic of single parent homes in the black community at nearly 72 percent.

After all these years and trillions of dollars, poverty has decreased only two percent, while increased spending on welfare programs has grown into the stratosphere — some return on the “government investment, hm?

Under progressive socialists, America is becoming a dependency state, not an opportunity state. It is immoral and anti-American. And no wonder President Obama will not be making any remarks celebrating this 50th anniversary — it’s another war we are losing, terribly. Al-Qaida isn’t decimated or on the run, but the American dream certainly is.


  1. Very good article Col. West.
    My children and Grand Children are not going to be able to achieve as much as I achieved because of the progressives, what they have done and what they continue to do.

  2. The built-in financial incentives in the current child-support system have expanded the tragedy of fatherless children from the welfare class to millions of non-welfare divorced couples.

    Generous welfare through Aid to Families with Dependent Children is counterproductive because the father has to disappear in order for the mother to receive taxpayer-paid benefits. Fathers leave home, illegitimacy rose in alarming
    numbers and children are worse off.

    In order to cash in on federal bonus money, build their bureaucracies and brag about successful child-support enforcement, the states began bringing into the government system middle-class fathers with jobs who were never (and probably would never be) on welfare. These non-welfare families have grown to represent 83 percent of child-support cases and 92 percent of the money collected, creating a windfall of federal money flowing to the states.

    The federal incentives drive the system. The more divorces, and the higher the child-support guidelines are set and enforced (no matter how unreasonable), the more money state bureaucracies collect from the federal government.

    Follow the money. The less time that noncustodial parents (usually fathers) are permitted to be with their children, the more child support they are required pay into the state fund, and the higher the federal bonus to the states for collecting the money.

    States have powerful incentives to separate fathers from their children, to give near-total custody to mothers, to maintain the fathers’ high-level support obligations even if their income is drastically reduced and to hang onto the father’s payments as long as possible before paying them out to the mothers.

    The entire system is broke.

    • Its not just the fathers that have this problem more and more mothers are being deemed unfit or a flight risk due to the necessity to move for more money at a better job. this takes away our time with our child to supply the 50% of our income to the father whom is living off of these programs such as food stamps, tanf, section 8 housing, hud housing and etc. I have been paying child support for 11 years at 43 to 50% of my income and in the process my other two children have suffered due to the lack of motivation from my previous husband to get off his ass and get a job and help me support our daughter in his household. Its a damn shame that the non custodial parent is punished for the custodial parents incompetence or just plain laziness due to government handouts stated above that are given as a bonus for having custody of the child. The welfare/child support/ low income programs need to be revised and researched for accuracy in the communities. As a previous property manager at many low income and hud housing projects I have seen time and time again the system being abused by individuals whom have claimed the father was not in their life and didn’t know where to find them when I could find that at any given time at the young ladies home while she was at work or he was at work making good money and the kids were at daycare on government assistance program because she is a single parent whom the government is helping in her time of need.

      • When a person attacks someone personally instead of dealing with the subject, as they said in the old days, “you know it is getting close to the target, when the flak gets heavy”, or something to that effect. Perhaps I may suggest you may rephrase the question?

      • also they would say back in the old days…..Sonny! stay out of others conversation,if they ain’t talking to you,keep your mouth shut Boy !.before ya get a paddlin !…ha ! ha !

  3. His policies have had little impact on poverty? I disagree,
    just not in the way Allen West meant, as I believe his policies have made
    matters worse. Obamacare is a perfect example. How many of us saw our premiums
    go up dramatically because of this act? I know I did and it is certainly going
    to affect my finances. How many saw their health insurance dropped? I saw the
    price of the ACA plans and I can’t afford them and am actually better off staying
    with my COBRA plan until I probably receive a cancellation letter later this
    year. If you’re a low wage earner like me and you live in a state that did not
    expand Medicaid, such as I am, you’re now stuck paying higher premiums with a
    higher out of pocket because your insurance company had to make changes to
    comply with the ACA. I ended up having to take out a plan with a less expensive
    premium, but of course that means I’m going to be paying a much higher out of
    pocket and hoping I have a much healthier year than 2013. If you live in a
    state that did expand Medicaid all I can say is good luck finding a doctor and
    getting quality service and don’t be surprised if your state is the one that
    soon goes broke. Then there are those employers, like mine, who said we can’t
    afford to pay these premiums anymore so let’s only hire people for 32 hours,
    thereby making them ineligible for health insurance. I know there are those who will say, “Well you
    didn’t have to accept the job.” This is true, but when it has taken you a solid
    year to find work after relocating and you’re not collecting unemployment, you
    hit a breaking point and take what you can get. Hopefully soon my job will work
    into full time employment, I will find a full time job elsewhere, or take on a
    second part time job. Until then I’m 52, working a minimum wage part time job
    for the first time since I was 16 years old. To those who are questioning why I
    relocated without having a job yet, it’s simple I divorced after a long
    marriage, my father passed away, and I moved in with my elderly mother who
    needed my help and sadly I’ve found myself for the first time since the age of
    16 needing her help to keep from being homeless. It’s easy for me to believe
    that poverty has worsened under this President as it certainly has for me.

  4. 72% of Black
    house holds being single parent is caused by the government penalizing people
    for being married. Both parties talk
    about how important families are but set up government programs that give
    incentives for people not to get married.
    Both parties are retarded!!

    • ….and guess which Party wants those 72% number to climb> Anyone that disagrees with that Party will be labeled a racist. And those 72% will BELIEVE it since they have been programmed to do so. If MLK were able to see that has become of his dream, he’d be spinning in his grave!!

  5. 50 years ago, more black babies were born in a stable family and more white girls got “in trouble”, to use a euphemism of the day. Today that’s reversed. However, there’s a new study out that says shows like 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom are having the exact opposite effect on teenagers. Far from glamorizing teen pregnancy, they’re having the opposite effect. More teen girls are deciding to wait after watching these shows.


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