THE WAR ON POVERTY: $21 Trillion Later, Government Has Only Made Things Worse

Guest post by Matthew Vadum
 

The War on Poverty has barely made a dent in actual poverty, states the 205-page report unveiled last month by the House Budget Committee, which is chaired by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.).

The paper, created in the hope of starting a discussion in Congress about reforming America’s bungled poor-relief programs, came out before Ryan released the GOP’s new budgetary blueprint yesterday that lays out how to balance the budget in 10 years. That document calls for reducing federal government spending by $ 5.1 trillion over a decade largely by getting a grip on out-of-control social programs. The House Budget Committee could vote on the fiscal plan as soon as Friday. Leadership in the Democrat-dominated Senate, which hasn’t even tried to adopt a budget in recent years, isn’t planning to craft a fiscal blueprint this year, either.

The heart of the War on Poverty report is its observation that most federal poverty-alleviation programs are essentially useless or incapable of having their impact measured in the real world.

The study observes that in 1965, the poverty rate was 17.3 percent. In 2012, it was 15 percent. This means taxpayers blew a staggering $ 20.7 trillion over the last half century in order to achieve a paltry 2.3 percentage point decrease in poverty.

The War on Poverty has barely made a dent in actual poverty

Broken down into less mind-blowing, easier-to-grasp figures, between 1965 and 2012 the average family of four spent roughly $ 146,000 per percentage-point drop in poverty, or $ 335,000 per family for the whole 2.3 percentage-point reduction.

Only the most blinkered or jaded among us in the body politic believe that sucking $ 9 trillion out of the private, productive economy for each single percentage-point reduction in the poverty rate constitutes an acceptable return on investment.

Which brings us to the modern “progressive” Left.

Those on the Left consider the gentle statistical dip in poverty over five decades to be social progress achieved by way of holy coercive redistribution. Mere results have always been less important to the Left than intentions.

Although a sane person would consider the extremely modest reduction in poverty a humiliating defeat, left-wingers have successfully been changing the subject, hurling epithets, smearing opponents, and intimidating adversaries, all in an effort to move the discussion away from their 50 years of human misery-generating policy failures.

The Obama White House self-servingly slices and dices the statistics to portray the War on Poverty as a smashing, if flawed, success.

While the Obama administration admits that some of the government’s poverty-fighting approaches are less than optimal, President’s Obama Council of Economic Advisers issued a ringing endorsement of the War on Poverty.

According to that body, poverty has declined by more than one-third since 1967. “The percent of the population in poverty when measured to include tax credits and other benefits has declined from 25.8 percent in 1967 to 16.0 percent in 2012.” Predictably, the council opines that “[d]espite real progress in the War on Poverty, there is more work to do.”

The council also obsequiously slaps President Obama on the back, praising him for taking steps to “further increase opportunity and economic security by improving key programs while ensuring greater efficiency and integrity.”

It then moves from servile flattery to outright revisionism, claiming that Obama’s actions have “prevented millions of hardworking Americans from slipping into poverty during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.”

OBAMA: Big government, a lawless administration, and radical attacks on civil society aren’t worth worrying about

Ever the class warrior, in a December address on income inequality, Obama showed just how much a prisoner he is of his own self-imposed ideological bubble. Without mentioning the devastating impact that the high tax rates and runaway social spending he ardently supports have had on American society, the president argued that it’s all deterministic, all the fault of capitalism. He said:

“But we know that people’s frustrations run deeper than these most recent political battles. Their frustration is rooted in their own daily battles—to make ends meet, to pay for college, buy a home, save for retirement. It’s rooted in the nagging sense that no matter how hard they work, the deck is stacked against them. And it’s rooted in the fear that their kids won’t be better off than they were.”

Big government, a lawless administration, and radical attacks on civil society aren’t worth worrying about, according to Obama.

It is “a dangerous and growing inequality and lack of upward mobility that has jeopardized middle-class America’s basic bargain—that if you work hard, you have a chance to get ahead.”

This is “the defining challenge of our time,” he said, even though Americans don’t give a farthing’s cuss about economic inequality.

That challenge consists of “making sure our economy works for every working American,” Obama declared, slyly anthropomorphizing the economy, an intangible abstraction, in order to push the illusion that markets, like animals or streams, can somehow be controlled and centrally managed.

All of this rhetorical blatherskite had its heyday in the awful 1960s, an era historian Paul Johnson correctly described as “America’s suicide attempt.” Instead of being satisfied with New Deal-era programs like Social Security, left-wingers resolved to move America even farther away from its founding ideals, fundamentally changing the country by erecting a supremely sclerotic behemoth welfare state answerable to no one.

The War on Poverty itself was a part of the massive left-wing social engineering and vote-buying scheme known as the Great Society

The War on Poverty itself was a part of the massive left-wing social engineering and vote-buying scheme known as the Great Society. This war really should have been called the war on American values. As a result of misguided government policies that grew out of the War on Poverty, social evils have not only been encouraged but subsidized with taxpayer dollars. For example, out-of-whack financial incentives have caused out-of-wedlock birthrates to mushroom, as David Horowitz and John Perazzo reported in “Government vs. the People.”

Despite an orgy of federal spending, blacks and other minorities have suffered the most from big government poverty alleviation efforts. The anti-marriage, anti-family tilt of welfare policies has devastated black communities and society at large.

In his first State of the Union address on Jan. 8, 1964, President Lyndon Johnson ushered in a half-century of government-incentivized sloth, indolence, dependency, and social decay. He exhorted Congress to launch a new belligerency against a perpetually ineradicable foe.

“Let this session of Congress be known,” Johnson exclaimed, “as the session which declared all-out war on human poverty and unemployment in these United States.”

The Economic Opportunity Act (EOA) of 1964 became the centerpiece of the new war.  It expanded the nation’s social safety hammock, turning government resources into war materiel to be used against the American system of constitutionally limited government.

The War on Poverty gave taxpayers’ money to so-called community groups like ACORN and Saul Alinsky’s Industrial Areas Foundation

The War on Poverty gave taxpayers’ money to so-called community groups like ACORN and Saul Alinsky’s Industrial Areas Foundation in order to encourage them to agitate against the status quo. This, in turn, stimulated demand for more government spending as taxpayer dollars became a kind of ever-increasing subsidy for pro-big government activism. The federal government still hands out significant grants to left-wing groups to subsidize their efforts to take away our economic freedoms. Many of the EOA-created programs still exist today, including VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America), now known as AmeriCorps VISTA, Job Corps, and Head Start.

Many more excuses for handouts were created after the mid-1960s—so many, in fact, that it is difficult nowadays for poor people to tiptoe through the ever expanding minefield of government assistance unscathed.

Loud calls for yet more welfare spending continue unabated from the echo chambers of the Left every single day whether the national economy is good or bad.

These calls come even after the country has saturation-bombed poor people with welfare over the past 50 years, to the tune of $ 20.7 trillion in 2011 dollars, far exceeding what the U.S. has spent on every actual, non-figurative war it has fought. Federal and state welfare spending, adjusted for inflation, is now 16 times greater than when this phony war was declared, according to Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation.

While millions of Americans remain stuck in poverty, the House Budget Committee’s white paper from March inventories a dizzying array of expensive failed programs on which mountains of money have been lavished.

The federal government now administers at least 92 federal programs designed to help lower-income Americans. There are dozens of education and job-training programs, 17 different food-aid programs, and over 20 housing programs. The federal government spent $ 799 billion on these programs in fiscal 2012 alone, according to the report.

Among more than 15 programs, more than $ 100 billion was spent on food aid. More than $ 200 billion was spent on cash aid. Spread over more than 20 programs, more than $ 90 billion was spent on education and job training. Almost $ 300 billion was spent on health care and close to $ 50 billion was spent on housing.

Let’s look at some of the eye-popping numbers involved in the major aid category of cash aid.

There were three federal agencies involved in spending $ 220 billion on cash aid in fiscal 2012. They are the Social Security Administration, Department of Health and Human Services, and Department of the Treasury.

Created in 1974, the Supplemental Security Income program provides cash benefits to elderly, blind, or disabled persons with limited income and assets. It weighs in at $ 50 billion.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), created in 1935, provides assistance to needy families. In 2012 it weighed in at $ 16.7 billion.

The Earned Income Tax Credit, established in 1975, provides cash assistance to low-income working families. The EITC, which some analysts consider to be a rare federal anti-poverty success, is the largest measure in the tax code that is aimed at reducing poverty. In 2012, its budget was $ 59 billion.

The Child Tax Credit, enacted in 1997, provides assistance to families with children. The IRS spent a little over $ 57 billion on total child credits in 2013.

The Title IV-E Foster Care/Adoption Assistance program, created in 1997, helps states pay for arranging temporary homes for disadvantaged children or for facilitating their adoption. The federal government spent $ 6.8 billion on the program in 2012.

But most of the 92 federal poverty-alleviation programs have a mediocre to downright dreadful track record of helping people in need.

To make matters worse, over the past three years, “deep poverty” has reached its highest level on record and about 21.8 percent of children live below the poverty line, the report states. Although changing demographics and slow economic growth contribute to continued poverty, federal policies are also discouraging work. For example, a rapid increase in disability caseloads has shrunk the labor force.

“But a large problem is the ‘poverty trap,’” the report states. “There are so many anti-poverty programs—and there is so little coordination between them—that they often work at cross purposes and penalize families for getting ahead.”

Because these programs are means-tested—meaning that benefits fall as recipients earn more money—poor families face very high implicit marginal tax rates. The federal government, in effect, is discouraging them from making more money.

“Congress has taken a haphazard approach to this problem; it has expanded programs and created new ones with little regard to how these changes fit into the larger effort. Rather than provide a roadmap out of poverty, Washington has created a complex web of programs that are often difficult to navigate.”

Some programs work, some don’t, and with many of them, “[t]here’s little evidence either way.”

Federal programs are not only failing to address problems in society; in some ways they are making the problems worse

Federal programs are not only failing to address problems in society; in some ways they are making the problems worse. “Changes are clearly necessary, and the first step is to evaluate what the federal government is doing right now,” the report said.

But President Obama, neo-Marxist ideologue that he is, isn’t interested in making changes to anti-poverty programs. Obama is seeking $ 56 billion in new spending for a variety of programs expanding educational offerings for preschoolers and job training for laid-off workers. No doubt he’ll find a way to lard still more billions of dollars in so-called emergency spending onto the budget as the year progresses.

“The two sides have converged in terms of the problems they’re diagnosing,” said Alan D. Viard of the American Enterprise Institute. “But the solutions are very far apart.”

That is an understatement.

 
Matthew Vadum, matthewvadum.blogspot.com/, is an investigative reporter at a watchdog group in Washington, D.C. His new book Subversion Inc. can be bought at Amazon.com (US), Amazon.ca (Canada), and as an e-book at Kobo (Canada).

Doug Ross @ Journal

25 Things President Obama is Guaranteed NOT to Mention During his State of the Union Speech

Kirk:

I bet he won’t mention any of these:

• Fast and Furious – gun-running to Mexican drug lords; investigation shut down by executive privilege.

• Benghazi – we don’t know: why the ambassador was there, who ordered military to stand down, what Obama did for 8 hours, who gave Susan Rice the video talking points, or why Hillary Clinton and Obama tried to perpetuate the lies

• IRS – used to target perceived enemies of the Obama agenda

• AP – no one held accountable for spying on the media

• James Rosen and his parents- Holder not held accountable for lying to Congress about his role in spying on a journalist and lying to a federal judge to obtain the secret warrant

• NSA data collection – massive, warrantless data collection… just in case they need it

• Clinton State Department shuts down investigation of criminal activity by employees

• James Clapper lies to congress about collecting data on American citizens

• EPA releases personal information on 80,000 farmers to environmental groups

• HHS Secretary Sebelius shakes down companies to help fund the failing ObamaCare, violating the Hatch Act

• Military members told what book they can’t read, chaplains can’t talk about God

• Lavish IRS parties at taxpayer expense

• Lavish GAO parties at taxpayer expense

• Lavish Veterans Administration parties at taxpayer expense

• Fort Hood called “workplace violence”, shooter still collecting paychecks

• Pigford – redistributing taxpayer money to minorities

• Solyndra – money pays back Obama bundlers, bankruptcy held until after the 2010 election

• Ex-EPA chief Lisa Jackson uses fake email account for government business, other suspected

• New Black Panthers not prosecuted by Holder

• Obama doesn’t get Congressional approval before attacking Libya

• Executive order by Obama to legalize “Dreamers”

• Obama decides what laws will be enforced – Defense of Marriage Act, legalizing illegals

• NLRB board appointment ruled unconstitutional but they are still working

• Gibson Guitars – illegal seizure of the company’s private property

• EPA using drones to spy on farmers

• John Corzine – MF Global not prosecuted for mismanagement of investor funds and large losses

For that matter – where are the prosecutions for Bill Clinton’s Mortgage Meltdown?

Doug Ross @ Journal

THINKING OF SITTING THINGS OUT IN 2014? Consider That Mainstream Democrats Now Openly Call for Arrests of Political Opponents

For those of you as disgusted as I am with GOP leaders, consider the ramifications of sitting out the midterms. Should Nancy Pelosi regain the Speakership, well, in six words, they’ll be coming for your guns. That’s a guarantee.

For the first time in American history, mainstream Democrats are openly calling for the arrests of their political opponents. Yes, the hard left Democrat Party’s tactics come straight out of the playbooks of Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Castro, Pol Pot, and Mugabe.

They will be coming for anyone who expresses dissent against their Marxist policies, but before they do, they’ll be coming for your guns.

If Democrats regain control of the House, rest assured that your Second Amendment rights will be eviscerated as they very nearly did following the mass shooting by the lunatic in Sandy Hook. Dianne Feinstein — the loathsome and brazen crook from California — had her gun ban bill in place, just waiting for a nice, bloody tragedy to exploit.

These are some truly frightening portents.

Democrats are openly calling for the arrest of Sen. Ted Cruz “for sedition”. Never mind the Constitution explicitly grants the power of the purse to Congress, not the President. Never mind that James Madison himself described that the House could, in fact, shut down any program it wanted to. Never mind all that: the Constitution doesn’t matter to these hard left sixties retreads. They don’t want any political opposition. They want you gone. They want you silent, or in prison, or dead (what do you think Obamacare is really about?).

MSNBC plainly calls lawful dissent “sedition”, presumably punishable by death.

Democrat Congressman Steve Cohen (TN) labels conservatives “domestic enemies”, alluding to presidential actions to secure the country from the Tea Party, veterans, and Constitutional conservatives.

A public MoveOn.org petition calls for the arrests of Republicans in Congress by the Holder DOJ.

These are some dangerous times, my friends.

I’m voting Republican in 2014 if for no other reason than to keep our Second Amendment rights intact. Yes, I support the most conservative candidates possible (Matt Bevin over Mitch McConnell, for example). But I’m not sitting anything out in 2014.

I’m not going AWOL, even with the feckless boobs running the GOP, because they’re the last line of defense. Let the RINOs form a third party. The grassroots can and will succeed by avoiding the GOP, the NRSC, the NRCC, and other establishment entities, instead working through independent groups like the Senate Conservatives Fund, FreedomWorks, and Americans For Prosperity.

I urge you to do the same next November and to marshal all the conservatives you can. If you aren’t motivated to continue electing conservatives like Ted Cruz… if you aren’t pumped up to save your Second Amendment rights and preserve the last vestiges of the Constitution… if you aren’t interested in staying on the political battlefield in 2014, well, then don’t be surprised when they do come for your guns.

Hat tip: BadBlue News.

Doug Ross @ Journal