How Conservative Principles Can End Poverty in America

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Work, marriage, and education–not government programs–are the antidotes to poverty, Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) said last month at The Heritage Foundation’s Anti-Poverty Forum.

Scott, raised by a single mother in a working-class African-American community, drew on his personal experiences to explain why conservative solutions work best. Other speakers focused on health care reform, strengthening the family, and state-based reforms as necessary components for raising the living standards of the neediest.

Heritage’s annual Anti-Poverty Forum brings together academics, politicians, and leaders from non-profits and religious institutions to discuss conservative solutions to poverty and social breakdown. Heritage research shows that after 50 years, the liberal war on poverty has been a miserable failure.

During this year’s event, World Magazine highlighted the Jubilee Leadership Academy, a school that works with struggling young men to bring them off the streets and into American society as responsible citizens. The school won a $25,000 award from World Magazine. The Daily Signal tells the story of one of Jubilee’s students, Travis Crockett, who grew up in Chicago exposed to drugs, violence, and gangs at an early age.

Do you think conservative principles offer solutions to poverty?

Heritage’s Wood Says Outdated Policies Meant to Help Women Are Counterproductive

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The Heritage Foundation’s Genevieve Wood takes on liberals about gender inequality in USA Today:

From education to earnings, American women today enjoy unprecedented levels of opportunity. Yet too many candidates seem oblivious to the dramatic gains women have made. They’re stuck in a time warp, channeling the problems and political causes of the ’60s.  Outdated policy prescriptions intended to help women, can actually work to hurt us.

Read more from Wood on gender inequality.

Do you think liberal policies towards women are stuck in the past?

The Truth About Thomas Piketty That Liberals Don’t Want to Hear

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In Heritage Work

Economist Thomas Piketty made headlines earlier this year–and gave comfort to liberals–with a provocative new book predicting permanently-rising inequality and recommending massive wealth transfers.

The problem is, Heritage Foundation economists Curtis Dubay and Salim Furth write in a new report, Piketty’s claims rest on dubious premises. In fact, “almost nothing in Capital in the Twenty-First Century can be usefully applied to policymaking.”

You can use this chart to rebut liberals who use Piketty to defend their claims:

What do you think are the best arguments you use when debating liberals?

Why Following Thomas Pikkety’s Economic Advice Would Be Foolish

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In Heritage Work

Capital in the Twenty-First CenturyEconomist Thomas Piketty’s new book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, is a bestseller that’s getting rave reviews in the media. It argues that economic inequality is a terrible evil, and it prescribes tax rates as high as 80 percent as a remedy.

If we follow his recommendations, Heritage Foundation chief economist Steve Moore warns, we’d end up making everyone poorer and returning to a 1970s-style economy:

That the left has come full circle to celebrating the anti-growth tax rates of the bad old days of the 1970s is a depressing reminder that liberals really haven’t learned much of anything over the past several decades. In the Carter years, the combination of high tax rates and high inflation pushed Americans into ever-higher tax brackets, which contributed to the worst losses in middle-class incomes since the Great Depression.

If America is foolish enough to follow Mr. Piketty’s advice, which is based purely on class warfare and envy, we may very well re-create the 1970s economic results all over again.

Do you think we need higher taxes to combat inequality?

We’re Losing the War on Poverty, Robert Rector Writes in the Wall Street Journal


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Robert Rector

Robert Rector

Fifty years ago today, President Lyndon Johnson announced an “unconditional war on poverty,” Heritage Foundation expert Robert Rector writes in the Wall Street Journal (subscription only).

Today, liberals argue that “income inequality” justifies further expansions of the welfare state. They claim that extended unemployment benefits are an unalloyed good that will relieve poverty. But history suggests otherwise.

Rector explains how the welfare system that arose after Johnson’s speech has been immensely destructive for the poor. And he recommends policy solutions that will help lift up them up: Continue Reading »

Simply Increasing the Minimum Wage Won’t Solve Poverty


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Photo credit: Newscom

The only concrete proposal President Obama mentioned in his fifth State of the Union address on Tuesday was an increase in the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $9.00 an hour. Unfortunately, this solution is counterproductive and does little to address the problem of poverty.

While this simple-sounding plan is appealing, it simply won’t work, Heritage Foundation expert James Sherk explains:

Labor economists have repeatedly studied the effects of minimum wage increases. They find no correlation between higher minimum wages and lower poverty. Raising the minimum wage to $9 an hour as the President suggests simply would not reduce poverty.

Here are four reasons increasing the minimum wage won’t resolve poverty: Continue Reading »

Video: Robert Rector Explains the Latest Poverty Numbers

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In Heritage Impact

The latest poverty numbers fail to take into account the government transfer payments made to low-income families, Heritage Foundation welfare expert Robert Rector said Friday on Fox Business.

These payments, which average $9,000 per recipient, aren’t included in the Census Bureau’s poverty calculations, he told host Stuart Varney.

Watch the video:

Do you think the census should count welfare payments and other subsidies when calculating poverty data?

The Greatest Weapon Against Child Poverty

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The pairing of the dramatic rise in births by single mothers and the collapse of marriage in the United States has led to record levels of children living in one-parent households. And new research shows that more children are living in poverty due to the decrease in marriage rates.

Over a third of all single-parent families with children (37 percent) were poor in 2009, according to Heritage Foundation research, but only 6.8 percent of married couples with children were poor. This means that when a child’s father is married to his mother, the probability of the child living in poverty drops by a staggering 82 percent.

Many of the children living in poverty rely on government welfare programs for financial support and help. “We spend billions of dollars a year to educate low-income children, quite appropriately, and billions more for means-tested welfare aid for single mothers,” says Heritage’s welfare expert, Robert Rector.

Government welfare spending fails to address the root of the issue – the decline of marriage. Lawmakers are unaware of or choose to ignore the link between marriage and poverty prevention.

The effects are not isolated to one income group, geographic area or demographic. Rector reports:

In Florida, for example, white families headed by single parents are five times more likely to be poor than those headed by married couples. In Illinois, the poverty rate for a single mother with only a high school diploma is 39.5 percent, compared with 8 percent for a married couple with the same education.

Politicians are ignoring this critical correlation between marriage and poverty. To learn more about childhood poverty and view the research, visit http:/

How the Government’s Misleading Poverty Statistics Drive Welfare Spending


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Robert Rector

Robert Rector

Widely reported but misleading government statistics about poverty rates have driven a five-decade increase in welfare spending, Heritage Foundation expert Robert Rector writes in the Washington Examiner.

Government data about poverty rates fail to account for massive government programs that gave 100 million Americans an average benefit of $9,000 in 2011. Rector explains:

Continue Reading »

The Facts About America’s Poor and the Safety Net


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Mitt Romney

Photo: Flickr/lachicaphoto

Mitt Romney made headlines last week with his comment on CNN that: “I’m not concerned about the very poor.  We have a safety net there.  If it is broke, I’ll fix it.”

Liberals immediately sought to make political hay of the issue.

But as Heritage Foundation welfare expert Robert Rector explains, “the facts about poverty, however, are clear: America’s poor are supported by an enormous and expensive government safety net.”

The federal government operates more than 70 means-tested welfare or anti-poverty programs, among them Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), the earned income credit, Supplemental Security Income, Food Stamps, the Women Infants and Children (WIC) food program, Medicaid, public housing, low-income energy assistance and the Social Service Block Grant.  These programs provide cash, food, housing, medical care and targeted services to poor and near-poor Americans.

In fiscal year 2011, federal and state government spent $910 billion on these programs.  (This sum does not include Social Security, Medicare or Unemployment Insurance.)  How much is $910 billion?  Well, that comes to around $9,000 for each lower-income American.

Read Rector’s entire report in Human Events.

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