By Leonard E. Colvin
New Journal and Guide
Recently, the White House Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) declared, in a lengthy report, the end of the nation’s War on Poverty. “Based on historical standards of material well-being and the terms of engagement, our War on Poverty is largely over and a success,” it read.
The Trump administration’s claim that poverty is no longer a problem in America was met with surprise and an angry push back from activists, organizations and even federal and state agencies which dispute it.
Those who disagree with the declaration say despite the strength of the economy and job growth, the U.S. Census Bureau reports that 12.7 percent of all Americans—about 40.6 million individuals—lived below the official poverty line in 2016. According to a more nuanced metric the bureau produces, called the Supplemental Poverty Measure, 14.5 percent of Americans were impoverished.
According to the author of the White House report, the nation has won the War on Poverty declared over 50 years ago. Now the issue, the White House report says, is that Americans are becoming too dependent on government benefits like Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (aka food stamps) which need new work requirements to keep people off the dole.
The report says the nation is measuring poverty incorrectly.
Instead of how much income a family or individual secures via work, it should be measured by the level of consumption.
The Census puts 40.6 million people below poverty line in 2016.
War on Poverty
This initiative was introduced by President Lyndon B. Johnson on January 8, 1964 in response to a national poverty rate of around nineteen percent. This led Congress to pass the Economic Opportunity Act, which established the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) to administer the local application of federal funds targeted against poverty.
See Poverty, page 3, Vol. 118, No. 30