Wednesday's Thomas Roberts program on MSNBC featured Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) discussing the fiftieth anniversary of President Johnson's announcement of the "war on poverty."
The host introduced Ms. Lee by opining that Congressional Republicans see the safety net programs as, "breeding grounds for laziness" then he asked how to find a solution "when the two sides fundamentally view what these programs really mean in different ways?" Even though George Bush had been out of office 2,181 days, Ms. Lee still found a way to place blame on the former President.
We have to find the solution, because we're talking about nearly 50 million people living in poverty now, 16 million of whom are children. We have a long way to go. We have to create economic growth and job opportunities, but, of course, the republicans and the tea party are standing in the way. And so what the republicans are continuing to do is to promote the economic policy, quite frankly, of the Bush Administration, which got us into this mess that we're in now with poverty rates beginning to soar. When you look at what is taking place today, we're trying to extend the emergency unemployment compensation policies and programs. We're talking about 1.4, 1.5 million people who are without emergency unemployment compensation. That has helped 11 million people stay out of poverty. When you're talking about what we want to do as Democrats, raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 a hour, I think it should be, of course, a living wage, but minimally we should raise the minimum wage. That will create at least over 1 million people who will be lifted out of poverty. And so what they are doing is going back to the same old economic policies of the Bush Administration that got us in this mess in the beginning.
During Ms. Lee's answer, the network threw up a chart showing the poverty rate in 1964 was 19%, in 1969 it had fallen to 12%, and in 2012 it was 15%. Each one of those numbers were accurate, however a fairer representation would have been to add the 2007 numbers, the year before Bush left office. In 2007 the rate was 12.5 percent, indicating there's been a large increase in the poverty rate since President Obama took office.