The War on Povertyby Representative John A. Yarmuth
Posted on 2014-01-08
YARMUTH asked and was given permission to address the House for
Mr. YARMUTH. Mr. Speaker, 50 years ago today President Johnson
launched the war on poverty, giving rise to some of the most successful
antipoverty programs in our history, including Medicare, Medicaid, food
assistance, and Head Start.
Five decades later, eradicating poverty remains a moral imperative. It encompasses health and well-being, education, employment, and access to opportunity.
We have made progress. In 1967, nearly 26 percent of Americans lived in poverty. Today that number is 16 percent. Programs such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, which gives working Americans a ladder into the middle class, have helped us make that progress.
Today, in Congress, our commitment to ending poverty is in question. Because of Republican opposition, more than 18,000 Kentuckians and 1.3 million Americans are without a critical safety net as they continue to search for work. As a result, our economy lost $400 million last week alone.
Unemployment insurance is one of the most effective ways to transition those who lost jobs back into the workforce. In 2012, it helped 2.5 million Americans work their way out of poverty.
Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues today to recommit themselves to eradicating poverty and support an immediate extension of unemployment insurance.