Obama's Tepid Response to Widespread U.S. Poverty


Hot on the heels of just-released statistics about America’s staggering poverty problem, President Obama released a tepid statement attempting to hype health-care reform and his infrastructure plan.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 14.3 percent of Americans are now living in poverty, the most since 1994. For blacks, that rate is 25.8 percent, almost three times the white poverty rate of 9.4 percent. This is downright scary, but you'd not guess it by looking at Obama's statement, which tries to slough off the doom by saying that it "remind[s] us that a historic recession does not have to translate into historic increases in family economic insecurity."

To give validity to his claim, Obama credits his Recovery Act with keeping "millions of Americans … out of poverty last year." He also says that the expansion of the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) "helped inoculate our children from the economic distress experienced by their parents, as there was little change in the percentage of children without health insurance."

While that may be true, even with the help of tax relief and CHIP, child poverty increased almost 2 percent in 2009, to 20.7 percent.


"For all of our challenges," Obama’s statement goes on, "I continue to be inspired by the dedication and optimism of America's workers, and I am confident that we will emerge from this storm with a stronger economy."

Tempering that optimism is, of course, some harsh realities about the declining hope of the nation's labor force: Besides poverty increasing, the rate of American workers concerned about their financial future jumped to 75 percent, and the number of American workers using opiates has increased by 40 percent since 2005.

-Cord Jefferson is a staff writer at The Root. Follow him on Twitter.

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