The annual report by the Census Bureau on poverty was released this past week, and this year marks the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty. It should come as no surprise that the War on Poverty has not been a success by any stretch of the imagination. In 50 years, American taxpayers have spent an unimaginable $22 trillion on this so-called war.
According to Investor’s Business Daily: “Adjusting for inflation, [$22 trillion is] three times more than was spent on all military wars since the American Revolution. The federal government currently runs more than 80 means-tested welfare programs. These programs provide cash, food, housing and medical care to low-income Americans. Federal and state spending on these programs last year was $943 billion.”
There is no doubt that poverty is a major problem in the United States; however, today the poverty rate hovers around 14%, which is actually higher than the poverty rate when President Johnson’s programs were launched. How in the world is it possible that programs which spend approximately $943 billion annually have failed to even make a dent in the population of poor Americans?
The simple answer is that the many benefits we have provided struggling families made earning your own paycheck counterproductive. Why would you want to work hard to earn something you are already given for free? Individuals who are classified as members of the “welfare-state” in the United States more often than not live better than individuals who are working three jobs in a single-family household. Investor’s Business Daily also reported, “[a]ccording to government surveys, the typical family that Census identifies as poor has air-conditioning, cable or satellite TV, and a computer. Forty percent have a wide-screen HDTV, and another 40% have Internet access. Three quarters of the poor own a car and roughly a third have two or more cars.” These certainly do not sound like things impoverished individuals would be able to afford. Our welfare-state has made self-sufficiency obsolete and dependency on the government the new norm.
Obama and the Democrats constantly tout that the War on Poverty has failed because the government simply hasn’t spent enough money to fix the problem. However, citing the $22 trillion dollars of American taxpayer money spent in the past 50 years, this is clearly not true. We have made welfare into a no-strings-attached, free way to get by while enjoying the same way of life hardworking Americans enjoy. This is not only unfair, and uniquely un-American, but it is the exact opposite direction we should be heading if we intend to get Americans back to work and strengthen our continuously struggling economy.
Jobless claims continue to fall under the Obama Administration, and Democrats consistently lie to the American people — saying the economy and job market are improving. Obviously that’s not completely true. Why would someone remain in the job market when they can sit at home and collect a free paycheck? After spending $22 trillion, it is clear our government desperately needs to take a second and third look at exactly what this “war” has done to the poor in America.