Poverty In America

Below are the U.S. Health and Human Services Poverty Guidelines:

This is a chart from The Heritage Foundation showing changes in the poverty rate since 1959:

As you can see, the War on Poverty actually slowed down the decrease in the poverty rate that had begun in 1950.

This is a chart from Pew Research showing how the American family has changed:

First of all, living in poverty in America is not the same as living in poverty in any other part of the world.

The Heritage Foundation reports:

Because the official Census poverty report undercounts welfare income, it fails to provide meaningful information about the actual living conditions of less affluent Americans. The government’s own data show that the actual living conditions of the more than 45 million people deemed “poor” by the Census Bureau differ greatly from popular conceptions of poverty.[7] Consider these facts taken from various government reports:[8]

  • Eighty percent of poor households have air conditioning. By contrast, at the beginning of the War on Poverty, only about 12 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning.
  • Nearly three-quarters have a car or truck; 31 percent have two or more cars or trucks.[9]
  • Nearly two-thirds have cable or satellite television.
  • Two-thirds have at least one DVD player, and a quarter have two or more.
  • Half have a personal computer; one in seven has two or more computers.
  • More than half of poor families with children have a video game system such as an Xbox or PlayStation.
  • Forty-three percent have Internet access.
  • Forty percent have a wide-screen plasma or LCD TV.
  • A quarter have a digital video recorder system such as a TIVO.
  • Ninety-two percent of poor households have a microwave.

I think it’s time to examine closely the impact of the War on Poverty. One of the differences between business and government is that in business when something doesn’t work, you fix it. In government when something doesn’t work, you simply add more money to it. It is obvious which solution is more effective.

The goal of any poverty program should be to help people develop self-reliance and get out of the poverty program. Obviously that is not happening–we have generations of welfare recipients. Another goal of any poverty program should be to support the family unit. Obviously our current welfare programs do not do that. It’s time to reevaluate and redo our poverty programs–they are breaking the budget and not accomplishing their goals.

In March 2013, The Brookings Institute posted the following three rules to avoid poverty:

First, many poor children come from families that do not give them the kind of support that middle-class children get from their families. Second, as a result, these children enter kindergarten far behind their more advantaged peers and, on average, never catch up and even fall further behind. Third, in addition to the education deficit, poor children are more likely to make bad decisions that lead them to drop out of school, become teen parents, join gangs and break the law.

In addition to the thousands of local and national programs that aim to help young people avoid these life-altering problems, we should figure out more ways to convince young people that their decisions will greatly influence whether they avoid poverty and enter the middle class. Let politicians, schoolteachers and administrators, community leaders, ministers and parents drill into children the message that in a free society, they enter adulthood with three major responsibilities: at least finish high school, get a full-time job and wait until age 21 to get married and have children.

Our research shows that of American adults who followed these three simple rules, only about 2 percent are in poverty and nearly 75 percent have joined the middle class (defined as earning around $55,000 or more per year). There are surely influences other than these principles at play, but following them guides a young adult away from poverty and toward the middle class.

Those three rules should be the foundation of any poverty program.

Irony At Its Best

The Trump tax cuts made life a little easier for most Americans. They made life a little more difficult for some middle class and wealthy people in states with high taxes. Oddly enough, many of these states with high taxes are blue states with large populations and huge state budgets. Some of the most affected states were California, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, all reliably blue states. Those states control 116 Electoral College votes and send 106 Representatives to the U.S. House of Representatives (out of 435 total Representatives). Now, after all the complaining that the Trump tax cuts were tax cuts for the rich (which they were not), Democrats want to give the wealthy in high-tax states their tax cuts.

Real Clear Politics posted an article today about the Democrats’ plan.

The article reports:

Democrats often complain that tax cuts primarily benefit “the rich,” but apparently they only think it’s a problem when rich conservatives get a tax break, because they’re outraged that President Trump’s tax cuts scaled back a generous subsidy enjoyed by well-off taxpayers in liberal states.

A key provision of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was a new cap on the so-called State and Local Tax (“SALT”) Deduction, which allows taxpayers to deduct state and local taxes on their federal tax return. This provision forces taxpayers in low-tax states such as Florida and Texas to effectively subsidize those in high-tax states such as New York and California.

For years, blue-state Democrats have been able to raise state income and property taxes far higher than voters might normally tolerate. That’s because the SALT deduction softened the impact for taxpayers in those states, particularly for the rich campaign-donor class. Since the SALT deduction only applies to taxpayers who itemize their returns, its benefits naturally accrue to those in the highest income bracket.

There was previously no limit to how much taxpayers could deduct through SALT, but even though the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act capped the deduction at $10,000, almost 93 percent of American taxpayers will be unaffected. It’s likely that fewer taxpayers will elect to take advantage of SALT, since the law also doubled the standard deduction, but about 11 million of the highest-earning Americans living in high-tax states are seeing their federal income tax liabilities increase.

It’s curious that liberals who criticized Trump so vociferously for “cutting taxes on the wealthy” are so upset by an element of the tax reform plan that merely takes away a tax break enjoyed disproportionately by the wealthy.

The problem here is simple. The Democrats believe that President Trump cut taxes for the rich (which he didn’t), but it was the wrong rich. However, just for the record, since most of the tax burden falls on Americans who are relatively successful, their tax cuts are going to seem larger than those who pay little or no taxes.

The following chart is from a Pew Research article. The figures are from 2015:

People who make over $100,000 (which in some areas of the country is not a lot of spending power) pay over 80% of all income taxes paid. I think we need to reopen the discussion of a flat tax. Everyone needs to have an equal stake in the game.

It’s All A Matter Of Perspective

Yesterday Newsbusters posted an article about a recent ABC News panel that was absolutely hilarious (not intentionally of course).

The article reports:

With nearly the entire Democratic 2020 field sprinting to be the closest to socialism without using the label, folks in the liberal media were busy trying to spin their radical policy positions as something palatable. A great example of this occurred during ABC’s This Week on Sunday, when two panelists tried to suggest that it was Republicans who were the radical ones with Democrats supposedly as the centrists.

During the “powerhouse roundtable” discussion late in the show, Republican strategist Alice Stewart noted that the candidates could “run away from the socialism label” all they wanted “but you can’t deny the fact that the Democratic Party is moving very, very far to the left.”

“We’re talking about a lot of policies that are extremely left. The Cortezs of Washington and the younger generation of Democrats are really causing a divide in the Democratic Party,” she added before triggered faux-Republican Matthew Dowd couldn’t hold back anymore.

Talking over Stewart, Dowd emphatically insisted it was the Republicans who were the ones who were out of touch with Americans: “The Democratic Party — if you look at all the issues and where the public stands, the Democratic Party is actually closer to the center than the Republican Party is. The Democratic Party is much closer to the center.”

Meanwhile ideas such as socialism, free education, free healthcare, and generally free money are gaining acceptance in the Democrat Party.

Wow. So let’s look at some of the other issues.

President Trump supports strong borders (and a wall). In January a Rasmussen poll showed that 48 percent of Americans felt that the government was doing too little to stop illegal immigration. On March 13th, Rasmussen reported that 56% of Likely U.S. Voters say Democrats should allow Fox News, the most-watched cable news network, to host at least one of their intraparty debates. Just 28% disagree, while 15% are undecided. On January 18th, Real Clear Politics reported that more Americans may identify as pro-choice than pro-life, but more than six in 10 of those who say they are pro-choice (61 percent) join the three-quarters of all Americans in wanting abortion restricted to – again, at most – the first trimester. So do about six in 10 Democrats (59 percent), eight in 10 independents (78 percent) and nine in 10 Republicans (92 percent).

In January 2018, the Pew Research Center reported the following:

The latest national survey by Pew Research Center, conducted Jan. 10-15 among 1,503 adults, finds that 42% say Donald Trump is “striking the right balance” in the situation in the Middle East, while 30% say he favors Israel too much (just 3% say Trump sides too much with the Palestinians; 25% do not offer an opinion).

At a similar point in Barack Obama’s presidency, 47% of Americans said he had struck a proper balance in dealing with the Middle East; 21% said he sided too much with the Palestinians, while 7% said he favored Israel too much.

I’m not sure it’s the Republicans who are out of touch with the American people. They are probably out of touch with the people in New York, California, and Washington, D.C., but I am not sure how out of touch they are with most Americans.

If It’s Not About The Money, What Is It About?

In January of 2018, The Washington Times noted that the estimated $18 billion over the next decade spent on a border wall between the United States and Mexico would be roughly 0.0338 percent of the $53.128 trillion the Congressional Budget Office currently estimates the federal government will spend over that same 10-year period. So what is all the fuss about?

Yesterday WWF came to the Oval Office in the White House when Representative Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer discussed the border wall with President Trump. YouTube posted the video:

The battle is not about money–it’s about votes. The Democrats have lost some of the voting blocs they have counted on to win elections–they can no longer be sure of the working man’s vote or the union vote. So how are they going to win elections? They are counting on the minority vote. The Democrats are afraid that if the wall is built, they will lose the Hispanic vote.

According to the Pew Research Center, this is how Hispanics voted in 2018:

According to a USA Today article posted November 9, 2016, President Trump did surprisingly well among Hispanic voters:

Hispanics favored Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton 65% to 29%, a 36-point difference that helped her secure winning margins in states like Nevada and Colorado and kept her competitive late into the night in other key battleground states.

But that margin, based on exit polling conducted by Edison Research, was smaller than the 71%-27% split that President Obama won in 2012. And it was smaller than the 72%-21% her husband, former president Bill Clinton, won in 1996.

Because the Democrats are becoming more dependent on the votes of minority groups to win elections, it is easy to understand why they would oppose any legislation or spending that most cost them votes in the minority community.

Looking Forward And Protecting Your Gains

Yesterday The Washington Examiner posted an article about some of Representative Nancy Pelosi’s plans should she become Speaker of the House. Say what you will about the lady, she wants to protect the Democrat party from themselves.

The article reports:

Democratic leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., in the midst of fending off a coup to derail her return to the House speakership, is proposing a series of rules changes that could kneecap liberals from pursuing a bold agenda in the new Congress.

Among the many proposed rules changes the incoming majority plans to make in a draft document obtained by the Washington Post, is one backed by Pelosi and Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee, that would “[r]equire a three-fifths supermajority to raise individual income taxes on the lowest-earning 80% of taxpayers.”

The proposed changes also hint at restoring some sort of “reasonable rule” aimed at making sure legislation is paid for, though there isn’t much elaboration.

Below is a chart from Pew Research Center illustrating who pays taxes. The chart is from 2016:

Raising taxes on the lowest 80 percent of taxpayers would theoretically even the tax burden, but it would be another blow against the Middle Class. Keep in mind that one of the signs of a country with a healthy economy is a thriving Middle Class. I would like to see all Americans pay some income tax–everyone needs ‘skin in the game’, but simply raising taxes on the lower 80 percent of Americans makes no sense–it will only slow down the economy and not raise revenue.

The article concludes:

Now, I suppose Democrats technically would have some wiggle room if the new rule were adopted. Because the proposed rule specifies “income taxes” it leaves an opening to raise money in other ways — payroll taxes, VAT taxes, and so on. But politically, that’s really a nonstarter. If Democrats make the 80 percent pledge and end up raising taxes on the middle class, Republicans will be able to effectively campaign against it as a broken promise, and any Democratic candidate trying to claim, “Well, we said income tax, but not payroll tax,” will be scorched.

I mean, I didn’t expect Pelosi to suddenly go full speed ahead with the Sanders agenda, but I also wouldn’t have predicted that she would have cut liberals down right out of the gate.

Representative Pelosi is attempting to protect her party’s chances in the 2020 presidential election. As much as I don’t wish her success, her fellow party members would do well to pay attention to what she is doing–she is trying to protect the future of the party. Older Americans are the majority of the voting population, and generally speaking, they do not support socialism–they have seen too much.

Eroding The Foundations Of Prosperity

The most important foundation of prosperity in America is the two-parent family. Unfortunately, the number of two-parent families has decreased in recent years.

This is a chart from the Pew Research Center posted on December 17, 2015:

On April 10, 2014, The Washington Post reported:

It’s clear in America that family structure and poverty are intertwined: Nearly a third of households headed by single women live below the poverty line. And just six percent of families led by married couples are in the official ranks of the poor. Poverty, meanwhile, touches an astounding 45 percent of children who live without a father.

Recent research by Raj Chetty, Nathaniel Hendron, Patrick Kline, Emmanuel Saez and Nicholas Turner also found that intergenerational income mobility was lower in metropolitan areas with a larger share of single mothers, a bold-faced finding that touched off a new round of public debate over what this relationship means.

But there is another troubling fact regarding the future prosperity of America. On November 2, Bloomberg reported:

Nathan Butcher is 25 and, like many men his age, he isn’t working.

Weary of long days earning minimum wage, he quit his job in a pizzeria in June. He wants new employment but won’t take a gig he’ll hate. So for now, the Pittsburgh native and father to young children is living with his mother and training to become an emergency medical technician, hoping to get on the ladder toward a better life.

Ten years after the Great Recession, 25- to 34-year-old men are lagging in the workforce more than any other age and gender demographic. About 500,000 more would be punching the clock today had their employment rate returned to pre-downturn levels. Many, like Butcher, say they’re in training. Others report disability. All are missing out on a hot labor market and crucial years on the job, ones traditionally filled with the promotions and raises that build the foundation for a career.

The article at Bloomberg includes the following chart:

In October 2015, TIME magazine reported:

For the first time since the Census Bureau began collecting data on higher education attainment, women are more likely to have a bachelor’s degree than men.

Last year, 29.9% of men had a bachelor’s degree, while 30.2% of women did, the bureau reports. A decade prior, in 2005, 28.5% of men had bachelor’s degree, while only 26% of women did.

Young women are driving the change. In the 25-34 age group, 37.5% of women have a bachelor’s degree or higher, while only 29.5% of men do. (Rates of college attainment for men and women in this age group are increasing roughly equally.) But for the over-65 crowd, only 20.3% of women have such degrees, compared to 30.6% of men.

Historically men have been the main providers for their families. Young men have been encouraged to get a good job, get married, and have a family. These ideals have been undermined in recent years by the cultural war against traditional families, traditional roles of men and women, and family values. What has been overlooked by the people fighting traditional values is the role traditional values play in the prosperity of America. The report by Bloomberg is a further indication of the overall decline of our society and the future decline in prosperity.

The Economic Consequences Of Legal And Illegal Immigration

On January 23rd, PEW Research posted an article about the flow of money worldwide. The article noted that in 2016,  $28,126,000,000 was sent from America to Mexico by Mexicans living in the United States.

An article posted at the Colorado Alliance for Immigration Reform explains how this impacts America.

The article reports:

$60 billion dollars are earned by illegal aliens in the U.S. each year. One of Mexico’s largest revenue streams (after exports and oil sales) consists of money sent home by legal immigrants and illegal aliens working in the U.S. Economists say this will help Mexico reduce its $17.8 billion defecit and may bolster the peso. $10 billion dollars (as of 2003) are sent back to Mexico annually, according to the Pew Hispanic Center, reported in an Associated Press article, up $800 million from the previous year. ($9 billion dollars were previously sent back annually, according to a September 25, 2002 NPR report). That figure equals what Mexico earns annually from tourism. This is a massive transfer of wealth from America – essentially from America’s displaced working poor – to Mexico.

A May 28, 2004 study by Bendixen & Associates6 found that legal and illegal immigrants send a total of $30 billion to their home countries on an annual basis. Mexico receives $13.3 billion a year. The largest amount in remittances ($9.6 billion) is sent from California, followed by New York ($3.6 billion), Texas ($3.2 billion) and Florida ($2.5 billion). Of those surveyed by the study, 24% were Latin American-born U.S. citizens, 39% were legal residents, and 32% were illegal aliens. Sixty-one per cent of those surveyed send remittances overseas at least once a month. A typical remittance is between $150 and $250.

This is money earned in the United States, but not added to the United States economy–it is money added to the Mexican economy. It should be noted that these remittances include money earned by both legal and illegal immigrants. In the case of the illegal immigrants, they are not paying taxes to America and often are taking advantage of federal assistance programs (I know illegal aliens are not supposed to be able to take advantage of federal assistance programs, but I personally know of instances where they have been able to do so easily).

It is time to take control of our borders. We need to return to a merit-based immigration system and return to the idea of allowing people to come to America who want to be part of America. Our Constitution is the foundation of our law. If you want to live under something other than the U.S. Constitution,  please go elsewhere. It is time that we brought people in who will add to the general well being of America. That is the only way to ensure the future of our country for our children.