David Brooks on the War on Poverty: 'I Wouldn't Say It Was a Total Failure'

David Brooks on the War on Poverty: 'I Wouldn't Say It Was a Total Failure'

On Friday’s “NewsHour” on PBS, New York Times columnist David Brooks argued that LBJ’s “War on Poverty” wasn’t the failure that some have made it out to be on its 50th anniversary.

Partial transcript as follows:

DAVID BROOKS: I wouldn’t say it was a total failure, and I’m a skeptic of it. There were programs that were clearly successful, the food stamp program. There were programs that were successful, but they just got the costs wrong, Medicare. So they estimated what Medicare would cost today. They were off by huge factors.

There were some programs that could have been successful, but they were poorly executed. I think Head Start would count on that. And so you have got a bunch of programs that they tried all at once, which had some modest effect, but not the effect you wanted, and a lot of negative effects.

And right after the Great Society program, there was a tremendous decay in our social fabric, a tremendous rise in crime. And I would say they emphasized the economic parts of poverty. They didn’t emphasize and they misunderstood some of the social capital effects. And they had unintended negative consequences.

So I would say mixed blessing. I would lean a little more on the skeptical side, that it was a — more of a failure than a success.

(h/t RCP Video)


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