PLEDGE NOW
The War On Poverty, 50 Years On

Fifty years after America’s declaration of war on poverty, we’ll look at what’s been won, and what lost. Look for new thinking.

President Lyndon B. Johnson visit to Tom Fletcher residence during Poverty Tour of Appalachia (Courtesy LBJ Presidential Family).

President Lyndon B. Johnson visit to Tom Fletcher residence during Poverty Tour of Appalachia (Courtesy LBJ Presidential Family).

Lyndon Johnson grew up poor, and when he became President of the United States, he went after poverty.  Declared, 50 years ago today, his War on Poverty.  So here we are, half a century on.  And there is poverty aplenty.  And middle class fear of joining the ranks of the impoverished.  With government aid factored in, poverty has fallen.  Without that aid, it’s risen – from one in four Americans to almost a third.  While the top tier of earners has just taken off.  So what now?  This hour On Point:  poverty in America, 50 years after LBJ declared war on poverty.

— Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Julian Zelizer, professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. (@julianzelizer)

Melissa Boteach, director of poverty prosperity program at the Center for American Progress. Coordinates “Half In Ten: The Campaign to Cut Poverty in Half in Ten Years.” (@MBoteach)

Lee Ohanian, professor of economics, University of California Los Angeles. Where he director of the Ettinger Family Program in Macroeconomic Research.

From Tom’s Reading List

Wall Street Journal: Alternative Poverty Rate Stuck at 16% — “In September, Census reported the nation’s official poverty rate, which stood unchanged at 15% of the population in 2012—well above the 12.5% level in 2007, before the recession. Some 46.5 million Americans were below the official poverty line of $23,492 for a family of four. On Wednesday, Census reported a more comprehensive measure — one designed to account for anti-poverty programs, regional differences in housing costs and necessary out-of-pocket medical expenses — that showed that 49.7 million people were “poor,” an increase of about 3 million from the official measure. The supplemental poverty rate was 16% in 2012, not significantly different from 16.1% in 2011.”

The Nation: Fifty Years Later, the War on Poverty Must Be Renewed — “But there is a still a long way to go before achieving President Johnson’s stated objective: ‘total victory.’ The tragic misadventure in Vietnam distracted the administration and the country from the one war President Johnson actually did declare, and more recent decades have seen the war on poverty co-opted by the proponents of austerity and turned into an unrelenting war on the poor.”

Washington Post: Paul Ryan’s claim that $15 trillion has been spent on the war on poverty — “The poverty rate is determined by the U.S. Census, and generally such government figures are fairly authoritative. The poverty rate is now about 15 percent, and the last time it was this high was in 1993. Ryan spokesman Conor Sweeney said that was the year that Ryan was referencing when he said ‘in a generation.’ (Okay, a generation is generally defined as 30 years, but 20 may be fine for government work.)”

More On The War On Poverty From Around The Web

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Feb 9, 2016
Republican presidential candidate, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie buttons his coat as he leaves Gilchrist Metal Company after a campaign event, Monday, Feb. 8, 2016, in Hudson, N.H. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

We’re live in New Hampshire for the first in the nation primary day, with all the latest on how the big vote is shaping up.

Feb 9, 2016
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign stop at a Rotary Club luncheon in Manchester, N.H., Monday, Feb. 8, 2016. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

From New Hampshire, a deep dive, from Trump to Sanders, on how the candidates would approach the U.S. economy.

RECENT
SHOWS
Feb 8, 2016
Legendary film critic  Roger Ebert in an archival image from his early days at the Chicago Sun-Times. (Flickr / WikiCommons)

The critic speaks. The New York Times’ A.O. Scott on how to think about art, pleasure, beauty and truth.

 
Feb 8, 2016
Sign stands outside property for rent Friday, Nov. 20, 2015, in south Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

If it feels like rents are sky-high, you’re right. Some now paying more than half their income on rent. Some say crisis. We’ll dig in.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Notes From New Hampshire, #6: Bernie v. Hillary — The Electability Debate
Monday, Feb 8, 2016

Bill and Betty are not real New Hampshire voters. But their arguments about the Democratic race for President most certainly are.

More »
Comment
 
Notes From New Hampshire, #5: Ted Cruz — The Advocate
Monday, Feb 8, 2016

Texas Senator and Republican Presidential candidate Ted Cruz is an impassioned advocate, Jack Beatty writes — but mostly for himself above all others.

More »
Comment
 
Notes From New Hampshire, #4: Donald Trump — You Heard It First!
Friday, Feb 5, 2016

Jack Beatty recounts an evening rally with Republican Presidential frontrunner Donald Trump, and wonders if the billionaire businessman is really looking for an exit.

More »
Comment