The pres­i­dent’s poverty prob­lem

The Washington Times Weekly - - Editorials -

Amer­ica is a poorer coun­try un­der Pres­i­dent Obama. Since last year, the ranks of Amer­ica’s least well off grew by 2.5 mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to the govern­ment def­i­ni­tion of poverty, which in­cludes a fam­ily with in­come of less than $22,314 a year or an in­di­vid­ual mak­ing less than $11,139. One-sixth of the coun­try, 46.2 mil­lion, met this stan­dard, ac­cord­ing to fig­ures re­leased Sept. 13. That’s the high­est to­tal since the Cen­sus Bureau be­gan keep­ing track a half-cen­tury ago.

The blame lies squarely on Mr. Obama’s poli­cies, which have stran­gled the pro­duc­tive sec­tor. The econ­omy is mov­ing, but barely so. Gross do­mes­tic prod­uct edged for­ward at a dis­mal 1 per­cent rate in the sec­ond quar­ter. Fi­nan­cial ex­perts have been busy re­vis­ing fore­casts down­ward, with the National As­so­ci­a­tion of Busi­ness Economists ex- pect­ing the year to end with growth to­tal­ing a lack­lus­ter 1.5 per­cent.

That statis­tic has a real-life im­pact. With­out real growth, com­pa­nies have no rea­son to ex­pand op­er­a­tions and make new hires.

That means the un­em­ploy­ment rate won’t budge from the 9 per­cent level, where it has been stuck for most of this year.

When peo­ple don’t have jobs, they be­come poor.

The high un­em­ploy­ment rates and the in­crease in poverty are both symp­toms of the same eco­nomic dis­ease.

It’s some­thing that even touches the mid­dle class.

One of the more strik­ing facts con­tained within the cen­sus re­port is the in­crease in the num­ber of young adults, aged 25 to 34, who con­tinue to live with their par­ents.

That’s an in­crease of 1.2 mil­lion since the start of the re­ces­sion. Mostly it re­flects the num­ber of col­lege grads who can’t find jobs.

So far, grandma and grandpa ap­pear least af­fected by the Great Malaise.

The poverty rate among the el­derly re­mains vir­tu­ally un­changed at 9 per­cent, which is 40 per­cent lower than the rest of the pop­u­la­tion. The poverty prob­lem shouldn’t be used as an ex­cuse to keep So­cial Se­cu­rity re­form off the ta­ble.

In­stead, sta­tis­tics show kids are hard­est hit.

Child poverty has jumped from 20.7 per­cent to 22 per­cent.

When a house­hold liv­ing pay­check to pay­check loses its in­come, the de­scent into poverty can have long-term im­pact on the chil­dren in­clud­ing lower ed­u­ca­tional achieve­ment and de­creased life­time earn­ings.

Short-term eco­nomic prob­lems for a fam­ily can lead to a life­time of low­ered ex­pec­ta­tions for the chil­dren. As more Amer­i­cans sim­ply aban­don hope of find­ing a job, they seek govern­ment as­sis­tance. That’s why 46 mil­lion Amer­i­cans are on food stamps.

Rather than cul­ti­vate the Amer­i­can dream of hard work and free en­ter­prise, the White House is ob­sessed with re­viv­ing the failed re­dis­tri­bu­tion­ist poli­cies of the past. The Amer­i­can Jobs Act is noth­ing more than a Key­ne­sian stim­u­lus pack­age re­cy­cled from the Jimmy Carter era. The scheme will gen­er­ate more debt while crush­ing the pri­vate sec­tor — where jobs are cre­ated — with higher taxes. That’s not what the econ­omy needs right now. It’s time to roll back Mr. Obama’s tax, reg­u­late, bor­row and spend agenda. Fo­cus­ing on cre­at­ing a com­pet­i­tive and in­no­va­tive busi­ness cli­mate is the only sure strat­egy for win­ning the war on poverty.

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