Monday, January 6, 2014

From War on Poverty to War on Poor

File - President Lyndon B. Johnson and his wife, Lady Bird, center left, leave home of Tom Fletcher, a father of eight who told Johnson he'd been out of work for nearly two years, Inez, Kentucky, April 24, 1964.

January 8th is the 50th Anniversary of the War on Poverty introduced by President Lyndon Johnson.  When President Johnson announced the war on poverty January 8th, 1964, 22 percent of Americans were living in poverty in the richest country in the world.  When President Johnson left office 5 years later, there were only 12 percent living in poverty. 

Lyndon Johnson grew up in impoverished Texas and when he became President he sent many from his Whitehouse staff to experience what it was like to live with the homeless.  He sent staffers into schools where the education was inferior and children were unable to compete and would drop out before they even started.

Voice of America News interviewed James Jones who was chief of staff to President Johnson on the 50th Anniversary of the War on Poverty.

"Things such as Medicare, which [then-President] Harry Truman first proposed in around 1946-47, and nothing had been done on that," said Jones. "Things such as fair housing, which, again, went back to the Truman Administration, and nothing had happened in 20 years."

Critics in Congress say spending on poverty reduction programs is out of control, and the Republican-led House of Representatives recently voted to cut funding for the Food Stamp assistance program by about $4 billion a year.

Still, Johnson's initiatives, despite their flaws, have lifted millions out of poverty, says Ron Haskins, a former White House and congressional advisor on welfare issues and co-director of the Center on Children and Families at The Brookings Institution, a Washington-based non-profit research organization.

The Republican Party has launched a war on the poor in the United States.  They have slashed food programs for the poor, unemployment benefits, and tied subsidized housing, food stamps and unemployment benefits to drug testing for the poor at the expense of the poor. 

The GOP has a financial interest in requiring the poor pay the $30-$35 per test to qualify for benefits.

The company that received the lucrative contract to drug test welfare recipients in Florida was none other than Governor Rick Scott’s own company Solantic.  All those tests, all that profit and who had to pay?  The poor.  This is from the Reid Report:

Scott’s newest scheme, which will help him turn a profit from his $70 million investment in becoming a one-term Florida governor, would be genius if it weren’t so darned evil. Fresh off his plan to drug test welfare recipients in the state, compounding what for many people is an embarrassing experience, having to take public assistance, Scott now plans to visit the same humiliation on state workers. You know, the ones who haven’t had a raise in four years and who are about the have their unions shredded and their pensions hollowed out by the right wing legislature.

Critics say that idea is too expensive and impractical, but on Tuesday, a Senate committee moved forward a drug testing bill applying to welfare recipients.

Scott, in a statement praising the Senate committee and announcing his executive order defended both actions.

“Floridians deserve to know that those in public service, whose salaries are paid with taxpayer dollars, are part of a drug-free workplace,” Scott said in a statement.

And how will Floridians get that information? Who has the wherewithal to carry out the drug testing of state employees on a random basis, or when any are crazy enough to apply for a job working for Gollum’s kingdom?

Solantic. Beauuuutiful Solantic.

Remember when Jeb Bush’s Republican legislature voted for drug testing for public housing?  Remember when grandma in public housing raising her grandchildren was to be turned out on the street if one of her grandchildren was caught with drugs?  That triggered a great deal of parody which would have been funny if it weren’t so horrible.


Late Tuesday, following the arrest of Noelle Bush, daughter of Florida Governor Jeb Bush, for possession of crack cocaine, the Orlando District Attorney’s Narcotics Evictions office forwarded information about her arrest to The People of the State of Florida, demanding that The People serve the Bush family with an eviction notice to vacate their residence in government-subsidized housing.

A spokesperson for the Orlando DA stated that under federal public housing regulations that were upheld by the Supreme Court this past Spring in Rucker v. Davis, eviction of Bush and his entire family is the appropriate sanction.

But of course the Bush family was not evicted from their plush public housing.  It was considered a “family matter”.

Recently, according to the New York Times, a judge in Florida struck down a Florida Law requiring drug testing on the poor to receive welfare.

A federal judge on Tuesday struck down as unconstitutional a Florida law that required welfare applicants to undergo mandatory drug testing, setting the stage for a legal battle that could affect similar efforts nationwide.

 “The court finds there is no set of circumstances under which the warrantless, suspicionless drug testing at issue in this case could be constitutionally applied,” she wrote. The ruling made permanent an earlier, temporary ban by the judge.

Mr. Scott, who had argued that the drug testing was necessary to protect children and ensure that tax money was not going to illegal drugs, said that the state would appeal the ruling.

State data in Florida also showed that the measure produced few results. Only 108 out of 4,086 people tested — 2.6 percent — were found to have been using narcotics. State records showed that the requirement cost more money to carry out than it saved.

So while the GOP declares the war on poverty a failure and cuts food stamps, Head Start, Meals on Wheels, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Unemployment, Medical Assistance, School Lunches, Pell Grants, Student Loans, Veteran’s Pensions, Teacher’s Pensions, Housing Allowances and continues cutting taxes for the billionaires and increases corporate welfare, Happy New Year America.

By Patricia Baeten

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