THEY ARE DISMANTLING ALL OF OUR PUBLIC TRUST BUT IF WE TAKE THE TIME TO LEARN ABOUT OUR POLITICIANS AND WHO THE CORPORATE POLS POSING AS PROGRESSIVE ARE---WE CAN TURN THIS AROUND!
BELOW THIS POLITICAL BANTER I WILL START DISCUSSING MEDICARE AND SOCIAL SECURITY
When I moved to Maryland the first thing I noticed was Maryland had no Democratic Party. Captured by corporate pols that did whatever they want with no Rule of Law. Democrats would not allow a dismantling of Equal Protection and Rule of Law---that is what protects labor and justice. Maryland is a progressive poser state---the media, non-profits are led by directors who give headlines to pols making them sound as if they are doing something for the people when they are not. Progressive Maryland is an organization that does this. It shouts out for all the right progressive issues and then tells people to vote for the raging Clinton Wall Street global corporate neo-liberal with a goal to dismantle social safety nets, Rule of Law, and Equal Protection. The Clinton neo-liberals in Maryland get together before an election and draw straws----for example, Anthony Brown drew a straw that said ---pretend you support education for the poor......Doug Gansler drew a straw that said----pretend you support health care for the poor---and Heather Mizeur drew the straw that said---pretend to support social justice for the poor.
Mizeur for Governor of Maryland
Heather Mizeur plans to continue O’Malley’s relentless privatization of all that is public with public private partnerships with global corporations taking over all our public sector. Killing the people’s ability to control public policy, union busting public sector unions, driving wages to the lowest point. What is progressive about all of this? Between these goals of public private partnership and Wall Street leveraging Heather Mizeur plans to super-size global corporate rule in Maryland.
Of course, if you support global corporations and global markets as all three of these progressive posers did---global corporations do not allow anything progressive. IT IS ALL A GAME.
Here we have progressive poser extraordinaire-----coming out of the 2008 crash from Harvard supporting every 99% issue-----and we know she supports global corporations, global markets, free trade, and Hillary Clinton----SHE IS NO PROGRESSIVE ---SHE SIMPLY SHOUTS THE RIGHT TALKING POINTS.
.Elizabeth Warren: Give Hillary Clinton A Chance
Elizabeth Warren wants America to hear Hillary Clinton out. Appearing on NBC’s “Today” on Tuesday to promote her new book, the Massachusetts senator said that the former Secretary of State deserves an opportunity to demonstrate h...m.huffpost.com
Besides fooling the Democratic voters---which is not working anymore as 80% of registered Democratic voters did not come to the polls----it is meant to create the illusion that all progressive issues are being covered in an election. The FCC media laws on elections have courts ruling that media does not have to give equal time ---it can be selective ---but that all candidates must be allowed access to media during an election and that no selection due to platform is allowed. This is why these Clinton neo-liberal candidates each take a different progressive issue---they are giving media the excuse to exclude REAL progressive candidates and their platforms.
For those that understand the economy you know O'Malley deliberately loaded the state with credit bond debt that will implode the economy tying it to property taxes and public schools----just as was done with subprime mortgage loan fraud. It is done deliberately because global corporate pols are working to redistribute wealth to the top and to re-engineer and restructure society and government to meet Trans Pacific Trade Pact. There is nothing progressive about TPP----led by Obama and O'Malley and Clinton neo-liberals. Below you see Republicans outing O'Malley, but Bush neo-cons are a tag team for global corporate rule.
O’Malley Made a Mess of Maryland, by Richard J. Douglas, National Review
He’ll do the same to the country if he makes it to the White House.www.nationalreview.com
MARYLAND IS WALL STREET GLOBAL CORPORATE TRIBUNAL AND COURT ALL THE WAY---NO PROGRESSIVES IN MARYLAND!
Yet, you see O'Malley going all around the nation with media allowing him to say he is as progressive as Obama was during Obama's 2008 campaign.
PLEASE DO THE WORK TO KNOW THESE CANDIDATES---MEDIA SIMPLY REPEATS WHAT PEOPLE IN POWER SAY----AND NON-PROFITS ARE CREATED AND LED BY PEOPLE PAID TO SAY POSITIVE THINGS ABOUT BAD POLITICIANS.
These next few days I want to turn briefly to update on social safety nets as they are dismantled, defunded, and privatized to death.
Below we see the Bill that will move the dismantling of Medicare forward after Affordable Care Act lays the groundwork for this. 2020 ---just five years and 80% of seniors will not be able to access Medicare and it will essentially become a private health plan for the affluent. Clinton Wall Street global corporate neo-liberal Pelosi and Republican Boehner rejoice at the ending of Medicare!
214bn Medicare reform bill passed by House
In an unusual bipartisan effort, House lawmakers approved a bill that makes sweeping changes to the
“If someone came down from Mars today, into this chamber, they’d be shocked at this camaraderie,” Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) told reporters, according to The Huffington Post. “This is great. You’ve got to admit it, this is a good feeling.”
Physician groups warned that the threatened slashes in Medicare fees could mean fewer doctors treating the program’s elderly recipients. Many doctors have already stripped Medicare patients from their rolls at the prospect that the law would eventually become effective. Medigap insurance---the bridge covering the 20% deductible will be eliminated in 2020.
Medigap Plans – What is Going to Happen to Them in the Future?
March 1, 2012 by GBall
Medigap plans are plans that work with the Government’s traditional Medicare program (Medicare Parts A & B) to fill in some, or all, of the “gaps” in Medicare. Medigap plans are sold by private insurance companies, and they are standardized by the Federal Government. In other words, each company must offer plans off of the standardized plans chart that the Federal Government sets forth.
There has been a bevy of talk recently about Medigap plans, as part of the discussions for health care/Medicare reform. Although these plans are NOT part of Medicare and are optional, many policymakers believe that revising the way they work will “save” Medicare or make it more viable long-term.
The biggest impetus for this discussion centers around the elimination of “first-dollar coverage”. First-dollar coverage is when a plan pays everything that Medicare doesn’t cover, so that the insured has no out-of-pocket exposure. The argument is that this causes Medicare-eligible people to use Medicare more and their supplements more, since they have no “skin in the game”. Someone that has Plan F (the most comprehensive Medigp plan) could, literally, go to the doctor 10 times a month, and as long as it was deemed medically-necessary, they would not have any out of pocket costs.
While this certainly seems like a viable argument, and there is no doubt that something must be done in order to ensure the long-term viability of Medicare, there are some holes in this theory in our opinion.
First and foremost, there is the question about whether the government should have control of individual’s purchasing decisions. The free market (claims experiences, administrative costs, competitive concerns, etc) determines the cost of Medigap plans. Medicare-eligible individuals have the choice – get a plan and pay the respective premium or forego a plan. Should individuals who wish to pay the going price for a Medigap plan be told that they cannot purchase such a plan? If $5 is too high for a gallon of milk, do we prohibit people from paying it and tell them they have to drink water instead?
The second fallacy in this argument against first-dollar coverage is the possibility that people would not get necessary or needed services/procedures if they had to pay more for those services. Most projections are that Medigap plans will continue to go up, particularly if “guaranteed issue” provisions from PPACA are applied to Medicare insurance. So, people will be paying more for Medigap, although the plans will cover less. Most are on a fixed income already – so will they get the needed services when they have to come out of pocket for them?
The last problem with the argument against “first dollar coverage” is quite simply that it will cost more for the Medicare beneficiary. Since this population is primarily on fixed-incomes already, this can cause a major disruption to the security of the Baby Boomers aging in to Medicare. Simply put, if the people who want to cannot buy “first dollar coverage”, they will have to pay more every time they visit the doctor, hospital, etc. With all this happening at the time that we have 11,000 people turning 65 each day and an unstable economy, this could be a recipe for disaster for our over-65 population.
While we certainly see the need for Medicare reform that provides legitimate change, we would strongly assert that changing what type of insurance private individuals can buy from private companies is not the answer. If you have any questions about this topic or wish to discuss further, you can reach us at 877.506.3378 or on our website hhp://medicare-supplement.us.
Last year Obama said BYE BYE to Social Security by allowing the FED to manipulate interest rates and inflation so seniors lost hundred of dollars a month on SS payments and gave us myRA---
Wednesday, Feb 5, 2014 07:43 AM EST Salon
The quiet war on Social Security: Meet the dark side of MyRA
Some Democrats want to expand Social Security -- but a new effort to push 401(k)-style accounts poses a real threat
It's not that this approach to accounting for pensions is a bad one-----it seems it is the one that should have been in place from the beginning. Your Clinton neo-liberals changed a few decades ago to an accounting procedure that allowed government pols to defund pensions and hide the lost revenue. The stock market gains for pensions were never what these accounting rules showed. The goal was to leave pensions severely underfunded so as to claim them a liability that cannot be met. Fast forward to the point they want to get rid of pensions and we bring back the old accounting method to show the public malfeasance in how pensions were handled. In Maryland, O'Malley led in this deliberate defunding of pensions as Mayor and Governor and he was right there to throw them down to cities and counties or into 401Ks preparing for these pensions' demise.
Moody's is being used yet again to push Wall Street policy in having this rating corporation downgrade states that do not move pensions to the point of being dismissed as liabilities too large. Remember, Moody's is that rating agency that led the subprime mortgage fraud by fraudulently giving AAA ratings to toxic subprime mortgage loans. This caused the economic crash in 2008 that caused pensions to lose 1/2 their value. None of that pension fraud was ever recovered. Since recovery of this fraud makes Moody's bankrupt and their assets set to -----let's say pension plans to replace that 1/2 value lost-----we see the solution to pension shortfalls! Recovering Wall Street fraud and sending them to public wealth assets like pensions.
Retirement Savers Lost $2 Trillion in the Stock Market
Heavy losses could further slow the economy.
By Emily Brandon Oct. 8, 2008 | 11:52 a.m. EDT +
Stock market turmoil has wiped out roughly $2 trillion of Americans' retirement savings over the past 15 months, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
What Clinton neo-liberals are doing is preparing to bankrupt the pensions instead. Moody's is busy giving states like Maryland AAA bond ratings as Governor O'Malley and the Maryland Assembly loads the state economy with huge credit bond debt knowing that the coming bond market crash will make cities and counties tied to this bond debt default and become mired with this debt long into the future. Moody's knows this as well as it gives its AAA. What happens when a state and city government is so mired in credit bond debt? There is no money for public pensions and the liability becomes too great. This is what they did to Detroit for example. So, this is what all of this policy around setting different accounting standards revolves----and it is all conspiracy to defraud the American people....if not by a Bush neo-con----then by a Clinton neo-liberal.
Look at how media portrays all of this---it never once allows the conspiracy be known====Liz Farmer is a reporter for the Baltimore Sun ----home of O'Malley's scheme to send Baltimore into bankruptcy.
Look at how Wall Street explains these policies as it changes just to move more wealth to the top and take it away from you and me. Remember, Congress with a super-majority of Democrats changed the accounting rules for Wall Street banks to allow them to hide all of that debt the FED has worked these several years with QE to remove from Wall Street accounts.
THE FRAUD AND COLLUSION OF CONGRESS, THE PRESIDENT, AND WALL STREET IN DOING WHAT IS A RUSSIAN PERESTROIKA ON AMERICAN WEALTH IS BREATH-TAKING.
Overseas citizens know what is happening as unions and justice organizations education and organize against this---in the US, these labor and justice leaders are partnered with the pols doing all of this!
Below you see public sector pensions being thrown to the dogs----full of fraud----and union leaders are not doing anything. Look at a New York union member saying she was glad her union leaders fought and protected public pensions:
'Luckily New York state has fantastic public pension funding because the state, county and municipal unions have been forced to go to court SEVERAL times to prevent raiding of the funds by governors in the past.
Coupled with the rise in the stock market investments managed by the NY State Comptroller, and the NY state pension fund is at all time historic high level.
Unfortunately other states do not have this level of involvement by unions to protect pension funds that their governors and elected representatives have raided and then reneged on "promises" to re-fund.
Why Some Public Pensions Could Soon Look Much Worse A Governing analysis shows how a new accounting rule dramatically changes some plans' pension liabilities and will likely force many states to finally face their obligations.
by Liz Farmer, Mike Maciag | March 17, 2015 Kentucky state House Speaker Greg Stumbo (AP/Roger Alford)
Standing in a crowded hallway outside a committee room in the Kentucky State Capitol, House Speaker Greg Stumbo is surrounded by thankful teachers and skeptical reporters. It is mid-February and the committee has just approved his proposal to borrow $3.3 billion to shore up the state’s teacher retirement system. Stumbo has argued that current, historically low interest rates are a window of opportunity to solidify funding for the troubled system. But, notes one reporter, borrowing $3.3 billion would be a challenge since it would be the largest bond offering in Kentucky’s history.
Yes, Stumbo counters, but the state already owes the money. “You shouldn’t be scared of that fact,” he says. The key questions are: Is the market favorable? Is the plan sound? Will it bring stability to the fund? “The answer to all three of those,” he says emphatically, “is yes.”
For now, Kentucky won’t be borrowing the $3.3 billion. The state Senate voted in March to study the funding issue further. Meanwhile the problem is clear. Last year, the Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement System (KTRS) saw its unfunded pension liability swell by nearly $9 billion. Suddenly, the system appeared to have less than half the assets it needed to pay its retirees. Kentucky’s funding status stood at 46 percent -- a drop of 6 percentage points from 2013. It was the biggest single-year drop reported by the plan since the tech stock bubble burst in 2001.
This time, however, the culprit wasn’t a slide in the stock market -- it was accounting. Thanks to new pension accounting rules put forth by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB), Kentucky, along with a handful of other plans, has been forced to lower its discount rate -- that is, the rate of return on its investments that it uses to determine the value of its total pension liabilities. The higher the expected rate of return, the lower the amount of funding a government needs to pay into its pension plan. The opposite is true when the rate of return is lowered. For Kentucky, which had to bring its rate down by more than two points to 5.23 percent, the effect was to increase the total liability. With the lower rate for investment performance, the plan will need more money to pay its pension obligations.
In a Governing analysis of 80 pension plans that had comparable data available, about one-third adjusted their discount rate downward but just nine plans in four states lowered it by more than a half-percentage point. The results for most of those plans were dramatic changes in their total pension liabilities while their assets on hand either improved somewhat or stayed the same.
Overall, the total liability of the plans reviewed increased an average of only 9 percent, a hike generally attributed to retirees living longer. But some plans saw more dramatic changes. In New Jersey, pension liabilities for the state employee retirement plan increased 55 percent. While the aggregate average plan saw a boost in its funded ratio of 4 percentage points, New Jersey’s funded status fell by nearly one-fifth to 28 percent.
The discount rate rule, known as GASB 67, is just part of the story. Another piece of the new rule, GASB 68, will hit financial statements starting later this year. Under that new rule, governments that are members of a pension plan -- say, localities that pool their money with a state plan -- are required to report their share of that plan’s unfunded liability on their governmentwide balance sheet for the 2015 fiscal year, something most of those governments have never before had to do. Now most will be adding millions of dollars in liabilities, forcing lawmakers to acknowledge the role pension payments play in their government’s overall financial picture.
Volatility and uncertainty are likely as governments grapple with the fiscal adjustment to this latest round of GASB accounting rules. But in the long run, the new accounting standards will call attention to the need for governments to contribute regularly to pensions and to acknowledge the role that funding plays in mitigating ballooning liabilities. The rules may also force a decision for some governments who will either be pushed into meeting their funding obligations or finding other strategies to keep plans solvent.
In some ways, the change to pension accounting couldn’t have come at a more convenient time. The new assumptions also require plans to report current market-value assets instead of asset values that “smooth in” -- and tend to hide -- investment gains and losses over time. As late as 2013, actuaries were still smoothing in the asset losses from 2008 and 2009. Many plans were reporting a lower actuarial value of their assets than was actually in the fund. Now, the market assets reported reflect the big gains in the stock market over the prior year. Plans in the Governing sample had an average annual increase in assets of an impressive 14.6 percent. All but eight plans recorded increases. The average funded status of plans jumped from 70 percent in 2013 to more than 74 percent in 2014.
Still, the discount rate treatment remains a key dividing force in the pension accounting rule, GASB 67. This rule requires plan actuaries to assess whether the pension fund will run out of money by considering factors such as past contribution patterns and expected future contributions from state and local governments, as well as expected contributions from employees, investment performance, and projected overall pension payouts. If there is a depletion date, the actuary must use a market rate of return (these days around 3 or 4 percent) to calculate the value of what the plan still owes after the fund runs out of money. The result is a blended discount rate that skews lower for plans that are low on assets.
Plans like KTRS that have not had reliable government contributions must use a more conservative measurement. Because of the rule, Kentucky’s total payouts to KTRS retirees went from a projected $28.8 billion in 2013 to its current projection of $39.7 billion. Although the Kentucky bond proposal was not a direct result of the accounting changes, the rule adds a strain to a system that is already under pressure, says KTRS Executive Secretary Gary Harbin. “It puts that out there that if the cash flow is not there, it gets to a point where it starts impacting investments,” he says. “We feel we’re at that point.”
Most plans, however, say they won’t have a depletion date. Therefore, their actuaries can use the long-term expected rate of return (typically between 7 and 8 percent for most pension plans) to calculate the total pension liability. The Teachers’ Retirement System of Louisiana, a plan similar in size to KTRS, has a solid stream of government contributions and reported a much smaller total liability increase than its Kentucky counterpart.
Kentucky’s teacher retirement plan isn’t the only pension plan in trouble in the state. The Kentucky Employees Retirement System (KERS) has been in a free-fall for years. Its funded status is 25 percent, the lowest ratio of any system reviewed. But unlike the teachers plan, KERS avoided using a lower discount rate, which would have sunk its funded status even further. That’s because in 2013, the Kentucky Legislature created a funding plan and has set aside its full contribution to the system for 2015 and 2016, something it has not done in more than a decade. Funding plans in other states have potentially saved other shaky pension systems from raising their total pension liability. In 2014, California enacted legislation that required increased contributions to teacher pensions in an effort to shore up funding for that system.
Of course, the funding plan has to be followed. New Jersey enacted pension reform in 2011 that called for the state to ramp up payments into its pension funds over the course of seven years. But New Jersey has failed to follow through on those payments. A New Jersey Superior Court judge ruled in February that Gov. Chris Christie violated state law when he twice declined to make the full payment into the state’s pension system. Now, Christie is pushing controversial pension legislation that cuts the benefits current employees can earn in the future. The new accounting rules lend an air of urgency to Christie’s plan as the funded status for two state plans plummeted this year. It is now 28 percent for New Jersey’s state employees fund and 34 percent for the state’s teachers plan. “This new reporting system,” Christopher Santarelli, spokesman for the state department of the treasury, said, “only underscores the urgent need for additional, aggressive reform of a pension and health benefits system that if fully funded would eat up 20 percent of New Jersey’s budget.”
This same fate could meet other plans that don’t keep up their pension funding. “Keep in mind, it is a ‘trust but verify’ condition,” says GASB Chairman David Vaudt. “There will be fluctuations in liabilities if governments don’t meet their funding commitments.”
The impact of GASB’s proposed accounting practices is not far off. GASB 68, the rule that requires governments to report their share of a pension plan’s unfunded liability on their governmentwide balance sheet, calls for the new math to appear in a government’s 2015 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.
The prospect of adding millions in debt on the balance sheet isn’t exactly inviting, but it’s something larger governments are braced for. But smaller governments and municipalities, particularly school districts that may see outsized liabilities on their financial sheets, could be blindsided. For most local governments, managing their pension responsibilities has simply meant paying the bill that the pension plan sends them. “The responsibility of paying benefits has for so long been not transparent, nobody feels like they have the responsibility,” says Sheila Weinberg, the founder and CEO of Truth in Accounting, a national nonprofit that advocates fiscal transparency. “There has been some education, but I think it still will be a shock to the smaller governments.”
The new liability is a volatile one. It could swing up or down from year to year depending on the pension plan’s market performance or if governments take a break in funding. Still, many agree that requiring governments to report their own liabilities is a common-sense move. Adjustment to it will take years. But ultimately, governments will have a truer picture of their fiscal health, and that will force many to take ownership of the issue.
Whether the tide goes toward figuring out a way to steadily fund pensions, as some in Kentucky would like, or negotiating benefit reductions and a change in plan structure, as is proposed in New Jersey, remains to be seen.
“This liability has already existed,” says Ted Williamson, a partner in RubinBrown’s Public Sector Services Group. “It’s just that up until now, this hasn’t been reflected. This change makes it top-of-mind for lawmakers. They need to think about a long-term strategy for their pension plans.”
Here in Maryland, Clinton Wall Street global corporate neo-liberals and Bush neo-cons love to pretend that the low-income and children will receive health care coverage. We have Maryland Health Care for All created by Johns Hopkins to promote this Affordable Care Act privatization of health care all the while pretending everyone would be covered----they just didn't say----covered with health insurance---not accessing health care. So, now the Federal government uses Medicare and Medicaid funds simply to pay private insurers a premium while the people cannot access the care.
PRETENDING MOBILE HEALTH TRUCKS ARE GOING TO REPLACE PUBLIC HEALTH FACILITIES......
WE'LL JUST SEND PEOPLE THROUGH A CERTIFICATE PROGRAM FOR A FEW YEARS AND LABEL THEM SKILLED HEALTH CARE! THAT'S WHAT THEY DO IN THIRD WORLD NATIONS!
Again, national labor and justice leaders knew this was the goal as they brought their union members and black and Hispanic citizens out to cheer for Affordable Care Act -----they knew the goal was to dismantle Meicare and Medicaid and create deregulated and consolidated global health systems acting just like Wall Street banks.
THIS PARTNERSHIP OF US LEADERS IS WHY THE US IS SILENT AS IT IS TAKEN TO TOTALITARIAN AUTOCRACY----WHILE THE REST OF THE WORLD IS SUCCESSFULLY FIGHTING.
Doctors Just Say No to New Medicaid Patients
By Sheryl Nance-Nash on August 7, 2012 6:11 AM EDT Science Times
Some 31 percent of doctors say the don't accept new patients who are covered by Medicaid. (Photo: Creative Commons: melloveschal)Medicaid is supposed to be a safety net. Yet, one in three doctors in the United States doesn't accept new patients who are covered by Medicaid, the federal program that is expected to enroll millions more low-income people as part of health care reform, according to a new government study, reported on by the Wall Street Journal.
We want to remember that as Obama and Clinton neo-liberals team with Republicans to end War on Poverty programs and New Deal----these programs still exist---they are simply being defunded and dismantled. So, we can reverse all of this by simply getting rid of the Clinton neo-liberals. Since they are less than 20% of the Democratic Party---that will be easy peasy. More importantly, Obama and Clinton neo-liberals are getting rid of Medicare and Social Security just as baby boomers are coming to the age of using them-----we paid payroll taxes for decades to get these benefits and just as with pensions and our housing----these Trusts were allowed to be gutted with corporate fraud. WE HAVE CRIMINAL COLLUSION BETWEEN OUR CLINTON NEO-LIBERAL POLITICIANS AND WALL STREET IN GUTTING AND THROWING THESE PROGRAMS AWAY.
Please stop the silence---stop allowing these neo-liberals to pose as progressives and get engaged in politics yourself----BE THE CHANGE AND DON'T SELL OUT!
You see NAACP and Urban League were the leaders with MLK in installing these programs and today-----the NAACP and Urban League work with these corporate pols dismantling all of War on Poverty and New Deal
Everything you need to know about the war on poverty
. By Dylan Matthews January 8, 2014
Fifty years ago today, President Lyndon Johnson declared "unconditional war" on poverty. Depending on your ideological priors, the ensuing effort was either "a catastrophe" (Heritage's Robert Rector) or "lived up to our best hopes as a people who value the dignity and potential of every human being" (the White House's news release on the anniversary). Luckily, we have actual data on these matters which clarify what exactly happened after Johnson's declaration, and the role government programs played. Here's what you need to know.
1. What was the war on poverty?
The term "war on poverty" generally refers to a set of initiatives proposed by Johnson's administration, passed by Congress, and implemented by his Cabinet agencies. As Johnson put it in his 1964 State of the Union address announcing the effort, "Our aim is not only to relieve the symptoms of poverty, but to cure it and, above all, to prevent it."
2. What programs did it include?
President Johnson signs Medicare into law and makes former president Harry Truman, right, the first enrollee. (AP) The effort centered around four pieces of legislation:
• The Social Security Amendments of 1965, which created Medicare and Medicaid and also expanded Social Security benefits for retirees, widows, the disabled and college-aged students, financed by an increase in the payroll tax cap and rates.
• The Food Stamp Act of 1964, which made the food stamps program, then only a pilot, permanent.
• The Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, which established the Job Corps, the VISTA program, the federal work-study program and a number of other initiatives. It also established the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO), the arm of the White House responsible for implementing the war on poverty and which created the Head Start program in the process.
• The Elementary and Secondary Education Act, signed into law in 1965, which established the Title I program subsidizing school districts with a large share of impoverished students, among other provisions. ESEA has since been reauthorized, most recently in the No Child Left Behind Act.
3. Why did it start when it did?
Michael Harrington, author of "The Other America." (The Michael Harrington Center
for Democratic Values and Social Change)Besides Johnson's personal interest in the issue, a number of factors made 1964-65 the ideal time for the war on poverty to start. The 1962 publication of Michael Harrington's "The Other America," an expose which demonstrated that poverty in America was far more prevalent than commonly assumed, focused public debate on the issue, as did Dwight MacDonald's 13,000-word review essay on the book in The New Yorker. Many historians, such as Harrington biographer Maurice Isserman, credit Harrington and the book (which John F. Kennedy purportedly read while in office, along with the MacDonald review) with spurring Kennedy and then Johnson to formulate an anti-poverty agenda, on which Harrington (despite being a member of the Socialist Party) consulted alongside Daniel Patrick Moynihan and OEO chief Sargent Shriver.
The civil rights movement also deserves considerable credit for forcing action. Groups like the NAACP and the Urban League were prominent allies of the Johnson administration in its push for the Economic Opportunity Act and other legislation on the topic. Another factor is the fact that we just didn't have good data on poverty until shortly before the war on it began; our numbers only go back to 1959.
4. How long did it last?
Donald Rumsfeld, left, served as Nixon's first OEO director. Among Rumsfeld's lieutenants were Dick Cheney and future Defense Secretary Frank Calucci. (Ollie Atkins/Richard Nixon Presidential Library)Many of the war on poverty's programs — like Medicaid, Medicare, food stamps, Head Start, Job Corps, VISTA and Title I — are still in place today. The Nixon administration largely dismantled the OEO, distributing its functions to a variety of other federal agencies, and eventually the office was renamed in 1975 and then shuttered for good in 1981.
5. Did it reduce poverty, actually?
It did. A recent study from economists at Columbia broke down changes in poverty before and after the government gets involved in the form of taxes and transfers, and found that, when you take government intervention into account, poverty is down considerably from 1967 to 2012, from 26 percent to 16 percent:
While that doesn't allow us to see how poverty changed between the start of the war in 1964 and the start of the data in 1967, the most noticeable trend here is that the gap between before-government and after-government poverty just keeps growing. In fact, without government programs, poverty would have actually increased over the period in question. Government action is literally the only reason we have less poverty in 2012 than we did in 1967.
What's more, we can directly attribute this to programs created or expanded during the war on poverty. In 2012, food stamps (since renamed Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP) alone kept 4 million people out of poverty:
And is even more important in fighting extreme poverty (that is, people living under $2 a day):
In fairness, SNAP isn't the biggest anti-poverty program on the books. That would be Social Security, also expanded by the war on poverty. The Earned Income Tax Credit, which came a few decades after, and other refundable credits are No. 2:
The impact of non-transfer programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Job Corps on poverty is harder to measure, but what indications there are are promising. Amy Finkelstein and Robin McKnight have found that Medicare significantly reduced out-of-pocket medical expenditures for seniors, which increased their real incomes. The Oregon Medicaid Study found that the program significantly reduces financial hardship for its beneficiaries, who, under Oregon's eligibility rules at the time, all fell below the poverty line. A randomized evaluation of the Job Corps found that it caused improvements on a variety of outcomes, most notably a 12 percent increase in earnings of participants but also reductions in rates of incarceration, arrest, and conviction.
Title I, on the other hand, is generally agreed to cause more equitable school funding allocations, but the evidence on its effects on student achievement is less promising, with many evaluations finding no effect. A randomized evaluation of Head Start found that its effects faded out quickly, and many experts, notably James Heckman, are quite skeptical of the program's benefits. That said, other researchers, like Harvard's David Deming, have more positive evaluations.
6. Why don't people think it reduced poverty?
Largely because people rely on the official poverty rate, which is a horrendously flawed measure, which excludes income received from major anti-poverty programs like food stamps or the EITC. It also fails to take into account expenses such as child care and out-of-pocket medical spending. If you look at the traditional rate — which, I'm not even kidding, is based on the affordability of food for a family of three in 1963/4, with no adjustments except for inflation since then — it looks like poverty has stagnated rather than fallen.
So when you read, say, the Cato Institute's Michael Tanner writing things like, "the poverty rate has remained relatively constant since 1965, despite rising welfare spending," keep in mind that that statistic is completely meaningless in this context. The relevant measure is the supplemental poverty measure which, as mentioned above, fell following the start of the war on poverty.
7. What more could we be doing now to fight poverty?
So many things! We could expand existing working anti-poverty programs like Social Security, the Earned Income Tax Credit, the child tax credit and food stamps, or at least reverse recent cuts to the latter. We could, similarly, cut taxes on the working poor, perhaps by exempting the first $10,000 or so of a worker's earnings from payroll taxes, or by cutting down on the extremely high effective marginal tax rates which poor Americans face. We could adopt a still more dramatic transfer regime, such as a basic income or low-income wage subsidies. We could be investing in education, such as by scaling up successful pre-K pilots such as the Perry or Abecedarian experiments, or by expanding high-performing charter schools and having traditional public schools adopt their approaches. We could raise the minimum wage, which all researchers find reduces poverty.