EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


March 1, 2014

Column: Poverty worsens as War on Poverty turns 50

This year is the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s War on Poverty and there has been lots of discussion of whether it worked or didn’t. It didn’t, at least as regards its advertised purpose of reducing poverty. But it didn’t do anything to worsen it, either. That’s President Obama’s record.

The pain has been terrible, as you can find by asking about black teens and discovering that their unemployment rate is up to a horrifying 38 percent. That’s one fact mentioned by Arthur C. Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute, in something he wrote for National Review Online. Other facts: Food stamp use has increased 50 percent to 48 million people and Social Security disability has been rising by a million a year.

It’s the worst recovery since World War II, and yes, I know, President Obama has an explanation for all evil in the universe – George W. Bush – and some of his defenders add that, geez, this was a really bad recession, Obama was up against a recalcitrant Congress, recoveries are complicated and give the guy a break.

I’d say along with other critics to take some of that list into consideration and then agree that Obama has been a major factor through his fiscal recklessness, his total incompetence as a negotiator and a constantly divisive rhetoric that has rendered trust and compromise feathers in a hurricane.

Even now he continues to miss the point, as in conveying in press leaks about the 2015 budget that he’s giving up on the idea of restructuring Social Security. Fixing that program and other entitlements is crucial for dealing with a bloated debt. The Washington Post reports, however, that Obama figures the era of austerity is over, and I’d say listen to Charles Blahous about this so-called austerity.

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