Did you think President Obama’s policies would help the poor? Seems not to be the case:
The ranks of U.S. poor swelled to nearly 1 in 6 people last year, reaching a new high as long-term unemployment woes left millions of Americans struggling and out of work. The number of uninsured edged up to 49.9 million, the biggest in over two decades.
The Census Bureau’s annual report released Tuesday offers a snapshot of the economic well-being of U.S. households for 2010, when joblessness hovered above 9 percent for a second year. It comes at a politically sensitive time for President Barack Obama, who has acknowledged in the midst of his re-election fight that the unemployment rate could persist at high levels through next year.
There are two things that must be said about this distressing news. The first is that, though there is suffering behind these numbers, they are nevertheless somewhat misleading. As the Heritage Foundation’s Robert Rector has shown, many of those living in poverty are better off than we think. They have appliances and other belongings not commonly associated with poverty. Though the really poor, around 3 percent, may experience hunger, most don’t.
Rector observes today on The Corner:
The strategy of the media is to take the least fortunate 3 percent or 4 percent of the poor and portray their condition as representative of most poor Americans.
While we must have compassion for those who are truly homeless or without food, they are far from typical among the poor.
How do the poor live? For starters, a poor child in American is far more likely to have a widescreen plasma television, cable or satellite TV, a computer and an Xbox or TiVo in his home than he is to be hungry.
How can that be? In 2009, the U.S. Department of Agriculture asked parents living in poverty this question: “In the last 12 months, were [your] children ever hungry but you just couldn’t afford more food?” Some 96 percent of poor parents responded “no”: Their children never had been hungry because of a lack of food resources at any time in the previous year. Only 4 percent of poor parents responded “yes,” their children had been hungry at some point in the year.
The second thing to know is that rise in the number of people classified as poor will inevitably lead to calls for more of the same policies that have only made our economy worse. You won’t hear the administration calling for drilling in the Gulf, lifting regulations, or lowering taxes on job creators so they can invest and create employment.
Maybe there is a third thing to know: This Census report will get ink. There is no way to ignore it. However, you can bet your bottom dollar (assuming you still have one) that there will be nothing like the furor if a Republican were in the White House. The poor and the homeless always get more attention then.