One great mystery is the persistent refusal of those on the left to abandon what is clearly not true.
That is, that the means for reducing the burden of poverty is more government spending.
It all really started in the 1960s under President Lyndon B. Johnson. He declared in his State of the Union address in January 1964 an “unconditional war on poverty in America.” Despite tens of trillions of spending since then, poverty remains, and so does the conviction of progressives that it can be wiped out with government spending.
Worth recalling is that the avalanche of government spending launched in the 1960s was followed in the 1970s by runaway inflation.
We now face the latest round of this misguided idea with the expansion of the Child Tax Credit in the Build Back Better Act — now derailed thanks to Sen. Joe Manchin.
Fellow Democrats are now all over the beleaguered senator for allegedly not caring about child poverty.
Build Back Better would have increased the credit from $2,000 per child to $3,000, or $3,600 for children under 6.
In a particularly destructive move, they detached any work requirement from receiving the Child Tax Credit.
A team of University of Chicago economists estimates providing a new generous Child Tax Credit, with no work requirement, would result in 1.5 million parents leaving the workforce.
More government, less work. This is somehow the answer that Democratic Party leadership is serving up to us for how to build a better future for our nation.
Where does the passion of Democrats really lie — in improving lives of Americans or in dramatically expanding government?
Equally revealing is what does not interest progressives at all.
A little more than a decade ago, Ron Haskins and Isabel Sawhill at the Brookings Institution publicized what they called the “success sequence.”
The success sequence consists of three steps in behavior to avoid poverty. Complete at least a high school education, work full time, and wait until age 21 before getting married and then having children.
According to testimony of Haskins in the U.S. Senate in 2012, those following the “success sequence” have a 2% chance of being in poverty and a 75% chance of reaching the middle class.
But the success sequence doesn’t much interest progressives because the focus is about individuals taking personal responsibility for their lives in a free country. The “personal responsibility” part and the “free country” part have little standing in the Democratic Party.
Also of little interest to our progressive friends is that larding down our economy with massive amounts of government retards economic growth. Why would anyone think slow economic growth is good for the poor, let alone any American?
As Americans allow themselves to be convinced that government is the answer to their lives, they become more likely to abandon faith and religion, which provide the light and principles for individuals to take control of their own lives.
New data from the Pew Research Center shows the toll that secularization is taking on our country.
According to Pew, 63% of Americans in 2021 identify as Christians, compared with 78% in 2007. In 2021, 29% indicated they have no religion, compared with 16% in 2007. Whereas in 2007, 56% said religion was “very important” in their lives, in 2021 this was down to 41%.
Perhaps as we close out 2021, we should again recall the words of America’s first president, George Washington, in his farewell address.
“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. … And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”
Bill package includes federal rent control, welfare for illegal immigrants and ex-cons
Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren endorsed a Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) policy proposal that includes taxpayer-funded welfare benefits for illegal immigrants.
Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal, dubbed “A Just Society,” calls for nationwide rent control and bans the federal government from denying welfare benefits based on an individual’s immigration status and previous criminal convictions. Warren became the first Democratic presidential candidate to endorse the plan, calling it “just the type of bold, comprehensive thinking we’ll need” to make “big, structural change.”
Ocasio-Cortez is considered to be “one of the most important endorsements in America,” and Warren’s immediate support of her latest policy marks another attempt to win the freshman congressman’s nod of approval. Warren’s quick embrace of Ocasio-Cortez’s plan is the latest sign of the social media superstar’s policy impact on the Democratic presidential field.
Neither Ocasio-Cortez nor Warren returned requests for comment.
Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal, consisting of six separate bills, calls for the expansion of welfare. Bills three and four make it illegal for the federal government to deny welfare benefits to ex-convicts and illegal immigrants. The legislation does not address how to pay for the rising cost of welfare, nor does it explain how it would accomplish its goals.
“It’s been really hard for me to find housing. I have the money to move places and stuff, but they deny me for my felony history. It’s not right,” a man with a face tattoo said in the legislative package’s announcement video.
Ocasio-Cortez’s second bill, titled “The Place to Prosper Act,” calls for federal rent control by imposing a 3 percent national cap on annual rent increases. Similar legislation has failed at the local level amid concerns that such policies increased housing prices while limiting supply. A recent study by the American Economic Association found that San Francisco rent control policy “drove up market rents in the long run, ultimately undermining the goals of the law.” The Council of Economic Advisers found that in 11 metropolitan areas with housing regulations, deregulation would reduce homelessness by an average of 31 percent. More than 80 percent of economists surveyed by the University of Chicago in 2012 found rent control to be bad policy.
Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal also includes an official poverty guideline that accounts for “new necessities,” such as internet access, while the fifth bill creates a “worker-friendly score” based on union membership and other factors that would be used to evaluate or award government contracts.
The last bill in Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal establishes health care, housing, and healthy food as government-provided rights.
All major Democratic presidential candidates quickly supported the Green New Deal, including Warren, Sanders, former vice president Joe Biden, and South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg.
To date, only Warren has endorsed “A Just Society.”
Bureaucrats push pencils at the expense of real workers
Life is hard. It’s harder still when an entire class of people with their hands out stands between you and success.
Unfortunately, that’s increasingly the problem, all around the world. A recent New York Times piece tells the story of a Greek woman’s efforts to survive that country’s financial collapse. After losing her job, she tried to start a pastry business, only to find the regulatory environment impossible. Among other things, they wanted her to pay the business’s first two years of taxes up front, before it had taken in a cent. When the business failed, her lesson was this: “I, like thousands of others trying to start businesses, learned that I would be at the mercy of public employees who interpreted the laws so they could profit themselves.” Continue reading
President Barack Obama has some bad news for poor and working class Americans: He’s going to spend the final three years of his presidency attacking the income gap.
“The combined trends of increased inequality and decreasing mobility pose a fundamental threat to the American dream, our way of life, and what we stand for around the globe,” the president said in a recent speech.
No coincidence the pledge to stamp out inequality comes at the same time Obama’s popularity and performance ratings are plunging due to the Obamacare fiasco. He always pivots to populism when he gets in trouble.
But this is no grand shift. Obama has been playing Robin Hood since Day One. All his major initiatives have been built on soaking the rich. Continue reading
Contrary to stereotypes, there is no evidence that people on welfare are lazy. Indeed, surveys of welfare recipients consistently show their desire for a job. But there is also evidence that many are reluctant to accept available employment opportunities. Despite work requirements included in the 1996 welfare reform, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says less than 42% of adult welfare recipients participate in work activities nationwide. Why the contradiction?
Perhaps it’s because, while poor people are not lazy, they are not stupid either. If you pay people more not to work than they can earn at a job, many won’t work.
A new study by the Cato Institute found that in many states, it does indeed pay better to be on welfare than it does to work. Continue reading
“‘This is painful for a liberal to admit,’ admits Nicholas D. Kristof, a Times columnist… ‘but conservatives have a point when they suggest that America’s safety net can sometimes entangle people in a soul-crushing dependency. Our poverty programs do rescue many people, but other times they backfire.’ Do tell.”
by Bill Murchison
Reason No. 1 not to tremble at the prospect of liberal ascendancy, world without end: Liberalism doesn’t work. At any rate, not the way liberals commonly suppose it’s going to work when they devise enormous taxpayer-funded, government-run programs, minimally connected, if at all, to the realities of human existence.
An article in the Dec. 9 New York Times, of all places, gleams in the darkness of the present political moment as the Obama administration works to rub away resistance to its vision of an all-encompassing federal government. “This is painful for a liberal to admit,” admits Nicholas D. Kristof, a Times columnist who, oddly, doesn’t see his job as requiring regular trashing of conservatives, “but conservatives have a point when they suggest that America’s safety net can sometimes entangle people in a soul-crushing dependency. Our poverty programs do rescue many people, but other times they backfire.” Do tell. Kristof’s careful examination of anti-poverty programs in Appalachia presents a viewpoint far more nuanced than, say, a Barack Obama speech urging the overhaul of capitalism. He finds that giving people too much free money for too long can create disincentives to live non-dependent lives. He talks about parents who pull illiterate kids out of literacy programs to avoid forfeiting a $698 monthly Supplement Security Income check meant to “help” the intellectually disabled. Continue reading