'The War on Poverty: Then and Now'

'The War on Poverty: Then and Now'

Without the safety net established by President Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty, U.S. poverty rates would be nearly double what they are today, a report from the Center for American Progress finds. The War on Poverty: Then and Now (43 pages, PDF) highlights how the creation of Medicare, Medicaid, Head Start, and the food stamp program; the expansion of Social Security; the enactment of civil rights legislation; and investments in education kept millions of families out of poverty, reduced food insecurity nationally, and has made college education more accessible to low-income students. At the same time, social, economic, and demographic changes have led to growing inequality and disparities in a variety of educational, employment, and health indicators — gaps that can only be addressed by policy reforms. Among other steps, the report calls on the government to raise the minimum wage, take actions to close the gender pay gap, invest in work and income supports that reduce poverty and expand economic opportunity, and learn from successful local poverty reduction initiatives.