January 11, 2014

The War Over Poverty: A Deep Divide On How To Help

All this week, Majority Leader Harry Reid declared over and over on the Senate floor that there's a downside to the recovering economy.

"It's true," he said. "The rich are getting a lot richer, and the poor are getting poorer."

That observation may not be surprising, coming from a Democrat. Less expected, perhaps, is a similar lament made the same day by the Senate's Republican leader, Mitch McConnell.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, says that both parties have compassion for the poor. The difference is in how they try to help.

"We all know the stock market's been doing great, so the richest among us are doing just fine," McConnell said. "But what about the poor? What about working-class folks?"

Those comments came the same week a study showed more than half the members of Congress are millionaires.

Still, Susan Collins, a Senate Republican up for re-election in Maine, insists members of both parties are compassionate, and that they do agree "that income inequality is a real issue, that the lack of jobs is a serious problem."

"The question is, what do we do about it?" she asks.

The two parties' deep differences over dealing with these issues were readily apparent on Wednesday, the 50th anniversary of President Johnson's declaration of a "War on Poverty." Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii called that effort a success at improving the lot of many, while noting that much needs to be done.

"The national poverty rate has gone down from 26 percent in 1967 to 16 percent in 2012," she said. "Without safety net programs, the poverty rate would've climbed to 29 percent."

Read the entire piece at: http://www.npr.org/2014/01/11/261566403/the-war-over-poverty-a-deep-divide-on-how-to-help?ft=1&f=7

By:  David Welna
Source: NPR