“This administration today, here and now, declares unconditional war on poverty in America. … It will not be a short or easy struggle, no single weapon or strategy will suffice, but we shall not rest until that war is won. The richest nation on earth can afford to win it. We cannot afford to lose it.”
Today marks the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s declaration to an unconditional War on Poverty, an effort that was announced during his 1964 State of the Union address. Far too many North Carolinians and Americans still live on the “outskirts of hope” and face the stark realities of poverty. With that said, poverty has fallen significantly over the last half-century (when using a comprehensive measure), illustrating the key role that public policies play in combating poverty and boosting economic security.
Johnson’s War on Poverty laid the foundation for the modern-day safety net, including Medicare, Medicaid, Head Start, SNAP (formerly known as food stamps), and a boost to Social Security benefits. Policymakers also provided funding towards elementary and secondary education, established the college work-study program, and provided loans for low- and moderate-income students.
The modern-day safety net cuts poverty nearly in half (see chart below) and reduces the depth of poverty among many families living moderately above the poverty line. Read More