Plagiarism is appropriating another person’s language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions, and representing them as one’s own original work. There are variations of plagiarism that include purloining sections of a decades-old speech and passing it off as one’s expression of compassion with the hope few would remember the speech was 28 years old. There has been a phony push this past week by Republicans to rebrand the party as compassionate and address the crushing income inequality that is responsible for a horrific increase in the number of Americans wallowing in poverty. Republicans are suddenly “compassionate” because it is the 50th anniversary of Lyndon Johnson’s declaration of war on poverty that current Republicans have done their best to increase over the past five years. Twenty-eight years ago another Republican made a phony push to address poverty and declared Johnson’s war on poverty effort a failure, and blamed government anti-poverty programs for increasing poverty and causing the breakdown of families by discouraging marriage.
On Wednesday, another Republican, Marco Rubio, parroted conservative man-turned-god Ronald Reagan and stated emphatically that “big government’s War on Poverty is a failure” and repeated Reagan’s assessment that getting rid of federal programs is critical to combat poverty. Rubio also argued against welfare, extending unemployment benefits, raising the minimum wage, and called for gutting regulations and the tax code, imposing serious austerity on the government, and employing “the greatest tool to lift children and families from poverty; it’s called marriage.” Rubio’s solution to the “marriage problem” is turning “Washington’s anti-poverty programs and the trillions spent on them over to the states.” However, that idea has not worked out for millions of Americans in Republican states that turned down free federal funding for Medicaid expansion, and it may not be a good idea to turn “flexible” funding over to states to pursue their own solutions; solutions that always entail greater tax cuts for the rich and corporations and not to combat poverty. Republicans still advocate giving more money to the rich and corporations that, after thirty years, is responsible for the stifling income inequality and the growing peasant class that marriage, cutting regulations and taxes, or harsher austerity will never remedy.
Rubio likely studied Reagan’s February 1986 radio address where he claimed “the crisis of family breakdowns, particularly children born out of wedlock, has created a permanent culture of poverty.” Reagan, like Rubio, claimed poverty is the result of “misguided government programs that actually turned a shrinking problem into a national tragedy.” Reagan said the real tragedy was that the “1964 War on Poverty was declared and poverty won because government programs ruptured the bonds holding poor families together.” No, the war on poverty created government programs that conservatives have sought to destroy since their inception, and like Reagan, current Republicans including “marriage advocate” Rubio are using tired conservative arguments to gut anti-poverty programs as a crucial part of their compassionate war on poverty. The only reason Republicans want to eliminate government anti-poverty programs is because they have kept millions and millions of Americans out of poverty and if there is one thing Republicans hate more than women, taxes, and regulations, it is government programs that work.
The war on poverty was responsible for the Social Security Act 1965 that Created Medicare and Medicaid, and expanded Social Security benefits for retirees, widows, and the disabled and financed by an increase in the payroll tax cap. The Food Stamp Act of 1964 that made the program permanent after a trial as a pilot program continues lifting millions of Americans out of poverty, creating jobs, and boosting the economy. The Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 which created the Community Action Program, Job Corps, and Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) were regarded as the centerpiece of the “war on poverty,” and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act which established the Title I program that subsidized school districts with a large share of impoverished students. All of the war on poverty programs, federal government programs, have a high rate of success fighting poverty and yet Reagan, and now Rubio, claim they create poverty that a good marriage program would set right if Republicans can give trillions to states to find their own solutions; or so Rubio would have Americans believe. There is always the threat that one solution Republicans will employ is only providing poverty relief to families with opposite-sex married couples.
Rubio, as an anti-poverty crusader, is nearly as hysterical as Reagan, and so was his contention that the various government anti-poverty programs are why the poor and middle class are victims of income inequality and rising poverty. The absurdity of Rubio’s contention that something as simple as raising the minimum wage will not help millions of Americans out of poverty defies comprehension and a December 2013 study by University of Massachusetts showing 4.6 million Americans will be lifted out of poverty if Republicans would raise the rate to $10.10 an hour. However, Rubio, like Reagan is a devotee of getting the federal government out of the way that means eliminating all the War on Poverty programs including Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, food stamps, and various programs directly assisting the poorest Americans to survive a thirty year Republican assault on government and the poor.
That Rubio claimed marriage is the be all, end all, solution to poverty exposed him as just another religious right extremist and not just pandering to Christian conservatives. It is no coincidence that his speech parroting Reagan was hosted by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) that furnished the George W. Bush administration with more than twenty AEI scholars and fellows who served in Bush policy posts or the government’s many panels and commissions. Rubio did them all proud by harkening a return to Bush-Republican policies that crashed the economy by gutting regulations, blew up the deficit with unfunded tax cuts, and created poverty Rubio claims marriage and eliminating anti-poverty programs will solve.
It is unclear when Republicans’ ignorant supporters will get the message that it is insane to try the same things over and over again and expect a different result. Neither marriage, gutting regulations and the tax code, eliminating food stamps, Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid will put an end to poverty crushing the life out of tens-of-millions of Americans and Republicans know it. It is why they continue their thirty year crusade to create poverty that increases income inequality that has benefitted the wealthy and corporations for decades. Rubio, like Reagan’s, nod to marriage serves no other purpose than appease the religious right and keep them voting for Republicans even though they are likely struggling to escape poverty themselves even though they are happily married opposite-sex couples.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.