Commemorating the 50Th Anniversary of the War on Povertyby Former Representative Eni F. H. Faleomavaega
Posted on 2014-01-08
of american samoa
in the house of representatives
Wednesday, January 8, 2014
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Mr. Speaker. in his first State of the Union
address on January 8, 1964, President Lyndon Baines Johnson declared an
``unconditional war on poverty in America.'' Today, as a member of
Congress and as a member of the Democratic Whip Task Force on Poverty
and Opportunity, I join my colleagues to mark the 50th anniversary of
this declaration and stand in solidarity to continue the fight against
The War on Poverty policy initiative introduced federal programs such as Head Start, Job Corps, Volunteers in Service to America, and legal services for the poor. It also strengthened America's safety net for poor through food stamps and expanding social security and healthcare programs, which American families, including those in my district of American Samoa, continue to benefit from today.
Our nation has made significant progress over the past half century. We have seen, for example, the percent of the population in poverty drop from 26% in 1967 to 16% in 2012. But the war has yet to be won. Today, poverty continues to plague our communities and Americans continue to suffer the effects of economic recession and long term unemployment.
As President Johnson declared 50 years ago today, ``Our task is to help replace their despair with opportunity.'' Government can still play a crucial role in reducing hardship for Americans and increasing opportunities for families who struggle just to make ends meet. As we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty, let us be resolved to continue the fight so that all Americans can have the opportunity to attain the American dream.