Republican Welfare Reform Pushed A Third Of America’s Children Into Extreme Poverty

Destitute Sisters

Destitute Sisters

Republicans have had a good run tormenting Americans who are not wealthy by actively seeking new and improved means of increasing the number of Americans living in poverty. It is irrelevant whether it is deliberately killing decent paying jobs, slashing anti-poverty programs, or passing legislation to eliminate what few pathetic worker protection programs still exist, Republicans are never at a loss for finding ways to increase the number of Americans in poverty, especially children. Where any decent human being would do everything in their power to protect children from living in dire poverty, Republicans appear to specifically target America’s young who had the misfortune of leaving their mother’s womb, breathing air, and become a living being.

It seems that every year there is another report by an international human rights organization ranking the richest nation on Earth, America, as an exceptional nation with an inordinately high percentage of children living in poverty. It is that time of year again and according to a report from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), in 2014 “1 in 3 children in the U.S. lives in poverty as measured by living in a household whose income is below 60% of the national median income.” That works out to annual earnings below $26,4000 for a family of four; what any humane person in America would consider as poverty.

One of the factors contributing to the number of children in poverty is, besides slave wages, the persistent social safety net cuts at the hands of Republican savages. Republicans desperately want to completely abolish safety net programs such as food stamps, TANF (welfare), and any program created to combat poverty. They often refer back to their featured legislation in the “Contract With America” (1996), the hideous welfare reform act as a good jumping off point to fight poverty. They regularly tout its raging success at helping Americans claw their way out of poverty and promise that more “reform” (cuts) will end poverty in America. Of course, they would want to “reform” welfare in a big way again because since the brutal TANF program replaced the AFDC, the number of Americans living on $2 a day, or less in most cases, has more than doubled. Subsequently, that so-called “success” has contributed greatly to the number of  Americans, including their children, who live in what every organization on Earth considers “extreme poverty.”

The Republican “special plan” to combat poverty as promoted by Ayn Rand and Koch devotee Paul Ryan is slashing more anti-poverty programs to death. Apparently, even though only about one-quarter of families living in poverty receive TANF benefits, that is still far too many for Republicans who refuse to create decent-paying jobs or raise the minimum wage to a level families could survive on. Conservatives believe that safety net funding belongs to the rich in the form of tax cuts and they bitterly resent the fact that families, and their children, living in poverty receive assistance for basic sustenance and shelter.

Republicans now claim that eliminating assistance entirely is necessary to teach lazy poor people the value and culture of work, but according to the Economic Policy Institute, the great majority of Americans living in poverty and receiving assistance do work; at poverty wage jobs Republicans still think are too generous. So generous, in fact, that they passed legislation eliminating overtime pay and pant to eliminate the minimum wage; two measures they and their Koch masters claim will instantly end income inequality, create millions of jobs and completely eliminate poverty in America. However, the statistics prove that keeping wages at poverty levels and cutting safety net funding is, and has been, sending more children into dire poverty with no end in sight.

Even though the economy is growing for the extremely wealthy, Wall Street, and corporations, according to the 2013 annual Kids Count Data Report that ranks states based on the well-being of their children, there were 3 million more children living in extreme poverty in 2013 than in 2008. In fact, in a report from two years ago, 8.3 million children in America were adversely affected by the economic crash; particularly from the financial industry’s deregulation that drove the foreclosure crisis since the Great Recession. Those figures, as horrible as they are, do not account for the total number of children from families that struggle day-to-day just to make ends meet. The National Center for Children in Poverty reported in January that 44 percent of children in the U.S. — about 31.8 million children — come from low-income poverty-level families. Those numbers of American children in the richest nation on Earth who live in poverty represent a 3 percent increase since the Recession, and all the while the economy was recovering and Americans were going back to work for poverty wages, all the wealth went directly to the rich. It is true job creation has been on a record-setting run over 5 years, but wages have remained stagnant while living expenses increased and safety nets were slashed.

It is interesting that while Republicans are attacking minority groups because their skin is not white, reporting from The Associated Press and Al-Jazeera show that poverty rates have nearly doubled among minority groups since the Republican recession. It should surprise no American that the hardship to children is most severe in the South and Southwest where the overwhelming majority of states are under Republican governors and legislatures. It is also noteworthy that those Republicans have worked tirelessly to increase, or at least maintain, the inordinately high poverty rates by passing right to work laws, refusing to raise the minimum wage, and cutting social programs created specifically to combat poverty; particularly among children.

Most Americans who are not barbaric teabaggers and Republicans, as well as evangelical fanatics, comprehend that none of the people, particularly the working class and children, had any part whatsoever in causing the Republican Great Recession. But they have been most seriously affected while the rich have increased their wealth substantially. The sad truth is that what has been occurring during the Obama Recovery, with all the wealth flowing to the top is exactly what Republicans have fought tooth and nail to keep in place.

Throughout this recovery, President Obama has promoted an agenda to raise the ever-increasing number of Americans suffering Republican economics out of poverty, and Republicans have opposed every single measure. There is a lot of attention, and praise, being heaped on Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders for his ‘populist’ appeal at calling for a reversal to the flow of money straight to the rich, and it is praiseworthy. However, it is not new and it is not anything President Obama has not called for throughout his tenure in the Oval Office. But it is encouraging that finally there is beginning to be real national exposure of the need for a monumental shift in how the American economy should work for the entire population and not just the uber-rich. Even though more Americans are aware that there are Democrats, and one popular socialist in name only, who are proposing real solutions to benefit all the people, there is precious little reporting that in the richest nation on the planet, about a third of children live below the poverty line and a solid 23.4 percent of that 33 percent live in dire extreme poverty.

Copyright PoliticusUSA LLC 2008-2023

Live your pro-democracy values by supporting independent news and analysis. 

Subscribe to The Daily: