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Combating Poverty In America: Time For A Change

1279 words - 5 pages

President Johnson is well known for making major policy reform in order to combat poverty. Welfare, a social program designed to combat poverty, has been a controversial issue for many years and has been reformed under the Clinton and Bush administrations. In 1996 President Bill Clinton brought welfare reform to congress with help from the Republican Party. Newt Gingrich and Bob Dole led the reform action. President Clinton vetoed the first two bills presented, but later proposed a third version that was enacted. Food stamps, child care, and Medicaid were all revamped. Food stamps were issued and controlled at the state level. Within the bill childcare was strengthen for the poor and Medicaid was maintained. There were strict provisions outlined as well. The lead of the household had to get a job within two years of receiving federal/state aid. Lifetime benefits were brought down to merely 5 years. States would end up losing their federal funding for welfare if the unemployment statistics did not meet standards. The main focus of this reform was to increase employment and not abuse the welfare benefits.

It may seem that our leaders are combating poverty. However, we have to examine what the U.S. determines as Poverty level to fully understand the issue at hand. A single household that makes less than 11,490; a family of two below $15,282; a family of three $19,530; and lastly a family of four $23,550 is considered to be below the poverty level (5). Since Alaska and Hawaii are geographically separated they have different values. This value figure does not include unemployment and is pre-taxed income. This number figure also does not include the addition of disability, welfare, child support and other government benefits. The poverty threshold is based on income versus food ratio of one-third. The Census Bureau calculates poverty rate for children is 22.3%, adults 17.4% and seniors over 65 is 8.7 percent (5).

We also have to examine poverty at a social level before we can determine any well formulated conclusions about the issue. When we think poverty we often imagine a homeless individual on the street begging for money or the family of 4 living in a shack with leaking roofs and no A/C barely getting by. In fact, for a majority of people under the poverty level this information is just not true. A report submitted by poverty expert Robert Rector, also a senior researcher at the Heritage Foundation, suggests otherwise:

• “43% of all poor households are home owners. The average home owned by persons classified as poor by the Census Bureau is a three-bedroom house with one-and-a-half baths, a garage, and a porch or patio.
• Eighty percent of poor households have air conditioning. By contrast, in 1970, only 36 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning.
• Only 6 percent of poor households are overcrowded. More than two-thirds have more than two rooms per person.
• The average poor...

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