Skip to comments.Does Poverty Still Matter?
Posted on 01/25/2013 4:12:56 AM PST by Kaslin
The Republican Party is picking up the pieces. Speaking of the ticket's loss for the first time since the election, Rep. Paul Ryan noted that many voters "don't think or know that we have good ideas" on fighting poverty and "helping people move up the ladder of life."
It's not surprising that Ryan, who got his start working for Jack Kemp and William Bennett at Empower America, sees the world this way. Though it's a total secret to members of the press and the Democratic Party, conservative intellectuals have been grappling with the problems of poverty in America for several decades and have arguably advanced more reforms (including school choice, charter schools, enterprise zones and community policing) than liberals have. Some of those reforms, such as those adopted by Rudolph Giuliani in New York, profoundly improved the lives of the poor by, among other enhancements, making their neighborhoods far safer.
Still, the popular perception of Republicans as the party of the rich has been reinforced by the party's opposition to tax hikes (always characterized by the press as "even for the wealthiest") and by the Democrats' relentless spin. Six in 10 respondents to a December Bloomberg poll said Republicans were too concerned about protecting the rich. A McLaughlin poll from 2011 found that 88 percent of likely voters considered a candidate's position on poverty to be important in determining their vote.
If Republican politicians do begin to focus more on poverty, as Ryan recommends, they will have the field to themselves. Democrats no longer talk about the poor.
Barack Obama began his career as a community organizer. In 2007, he excoriated George W. Bush for failing those in "vast swaths of rural America" and in inner cities "who cannot hire lobbyists" and "cannot write thousand dollar campaign checks." The government, Senator Obama said, "cannot guarantee success and happiness in life," but can "ensure that every American who wants to work is ... able to find a job and able to stay out of poverty."
The anti-poverty talk was missing from the 2012 campaign. It was all about the middle class. Perhaps that's because Obama's first term created so very much more poverty. There are more poor people in America today than at any time since the Great Depression. There were 32 million Americans collecting food stamps in 2008. Now that figure is 47 million. Spending on food stamps doubled between 2007 and 2011.
Unemployment remained stubbornly high throughout the Obama first term leading many to abandon the search for jobs altogether. In 2008, 7.2 million Americans were getting Social Security disability payments. Today, it's 8.7 million, an increase of 20 percent. A normal increase due to population expansion would have been 4 percent. Obama blamed his predecessor, but the steep decline in labor force participation didn't begin until six months into Obama's term. Forbes magazine calculates that if long term discouraged workers, those who've dropped out to collect disability payments, and those working part time because they cannot find full time work were counted, the real unemployment rate would hover around 22 percent.
Medium household incomes fell by more than 8 percent during the Obama first term, an average of $3040 per household, and income inequality grew compared with the Bush years. For African-Americans, the drop in household income was even more dramatic -- 11.1 percent.
Obama talked about the middle class in 2012 for two reasons: 1) because his record left him vulnerable on the subject of poverty, and 2) because Democrats believe that Americans do not like poverty programs. "People are much less inclined to support something that goes toward a targeted population than something that they can benefit from," Rachel Black of the New America Foundation told Politico. This is why Democrats fight tooth and claw to block reforms of Medicare and Social Security that would decrease benefits or increase taxes for wealthier recipients. They believe that the middle class would stop supporting the programs if they were at all means-tested.
But most voters do not disapprove of TANF, Medicaid, Head Start and dozens of other programs aimed at the poor.
Ryan is right to see an opportunity for Republicans in talking about poverty. It might improve the Republican brand in the eyes of all voters. It opens a door to talk about the best anti-poverty program -- economic growth, which has been conspicuously absent under Obama. It also highlights a fact the Democrats want to bury: All Americans are poorer as a result of Obama's policies, but the poor are hit hardest.
If the idea is to get on the left side of the Demoviks on the matter of poverty, then they can start without me.
If the idea is to hammer Obama and the ‘viks for abandoning the idea of a vibrant private sector then I’m in.
I too object to turning programs into “income redistribution schemes”.
“But most voters do not disapprove of TANF, Medicaid, Head Start and dozens of other programs aimed at the poor.”
The problem with every one of these programs is that they are not aimed at helping anyone that needs a helping hand.
They are all crafted with the intent of buying votes, and that is the root of all that is rotten in DC.
Obama Phones, welfare, endless unemployment compensation and free housing, medical care, food-stamps - all are creating / sustaining a permanent “taker” class.
They have no incentives at all to lift a finger to better themselves. And we can't afford to support them any longer.
DC has already bankrupted us beyond the breaking point - it's just that no one has the integrity to admit it.
As to the poverty issue, since the War on Poverty was started under Johnson in the late 1960's, last summer's report showed that poverty is worse now than ever before. What I don't hear the GOP saying is that, since 1951, in all but 9 years the Democrats have controlled the House and the Senate. Surely, 60 years is enough for the Dems to improve, if not solve, the poverty problem. Perhaps it's time to try something other than free giveaways.
Finally, why the attack on the rich? Is it the poor who hired you? Do they give to charities, scholarships, etc.? The Dems see the economic pie as a fixed size and the only way for you to get more is to take it away from someone else. The GOP needs to get the message out that a rising tide lifts all boats. If the economy grows (and growth is usually driven by what the rich do in terms of production and hiring), even if your percentage doesn't change you still have more than you did before.
The GOP simply can't communicate what it's trying to do and until that happens, were going down the same road as before.
1) "We think the government can do more to help you."
2) "We think the government can do less and that this will help you."
Ryan is pushing the GOP to make the government get bigger and do more.
He could have stopped; right there...
But STOPPING the debt ceiling increase would do it!
Pay me now; or pay me later.
families getting 1200 in food stamps a month? that is why Americans do not like poverty programs. Most American families who are self supporting do not spend 1200 a month on groceries
Unfort. you have to break-down the taxpayer scale. Who’s 10%? Even though the 30-sec soundbite of “70% of taxes are paid by those that earn over $50k” is nice and easy, I think it should be reversed:
“Those making UNDER $100K will see their taxes rise XYZ% to pay for the entitlements of the ‘poor’”. That’d get their attention.
Even better, break it down as a household invoice: to the War on Poverty..$$ / X # of years = taxpayer share of the bill.
-——The GOP simply can’t communicate what it’s trying to do———
You over look the primary driving fact. The Democrat party is a criminal enterprise. It controls the means for distributing information. The MSM controls information flow and is the de facto propaganda arm of the criminal enterprise.
I agree, but the GOP does get some face time on TV and the print media, but they're quoted on the wrong topics. They need to state the message, shut up, and walk way. That way, the sound bites convey the message, rather than a rambling statement no one understands.