50 Years Later
In his State of the Union address on Jan. 8, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson introduced his “war on poverty,” when the national poverty rate was 19%. His project created Medicare, Medicaid, a permanent food stamp program, Head Start, Volunteers in Service to America, the Job Corps., and of course, Community Action.
Day after day, year after year, we have seen the success of programs like Community and Medicare, created then, and efforts like TANF and the EITC, created along the way. We know that the War on Poverty has not been a lost cause. But, while much has changed, we acknowledge that much appears to have remained the same, with the national poverty rate still hovering around 15% percent.
Congressman Paul Ryan is taking aim at the nation's poverty programs, unveiling a report longon criticism of more than 90 different poverty programs in 2012 that provided
food, housing, education and other assistance for low-income Americans, but short
on policy prescriptions for our country’s increasing income inequality and
sagging economic mobility.
KACAP considered the Congressman's report, and in doing so, find that we echo the sentiment of Melissa Boteach, friend and colleague from the Center for American Progress. Her response included:
"As we consider reforms to strengthen the safety net and lift people out of poverty, solutions should first do no harm and not exacerbate poverty and inequality. We can adjust to the reality of more mothers working and changing family structure with policies such as high quality childcare and early childhood education, paid family leave, paid sick days, and closing the gender pay gap. We can tackle the need for greater workforce development through expanding policies such as apprenticeships. And we could actually reduce the safety net spending that Rep. Ryan decries by raising the minimum wage so that fewer families are working full-time and still living in poverty. "
Reducing Poverty in Kansas
The relationship between policy and poverty in Kansas has received national attention on
multiple occasions. Most recently, Governing Magazine asked the question,
"Can Tough Love Help Reduce Poverty?,
focusing on Kansas as the model for State Administrations that believe that
by making assistance difficult to receive or keep, citizens will make more of
an effort to life themselves out of poverty. KACAP, along with other strong Kansas advocates including the Kansas Health Consumer Coalition and the Kansas Center for Economic Growth, were featured
in the article.
At KACAP, we understand that economic inequality is a difficult concept to communicate.
This website is meant to be a portal for you to the tools, resources, and information
you need to understand poverty in your community and how the Kansas Community
Action Network is striving to end it.