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CBC's Fudge: Poverty Still Rampant 50 Years After Johnson

WI Web Staff | 1/8/2014, 12:29 p.m.
Fifty years after President Johnson began a war on poverty, too many poor Americans still live "on the outskirts of ...
Congressional Black Caucus Chair Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) (Courtesy photo)

Fifty years after President Johnson began a war on poverty, too many poor Americans still live "on the outskirts of hope," Congressional Black Caucus Chair Marcia L. Fudge said on Wednesday, the anniversary of Johnson's declaration.

"While the programs created in the last 50 years have kept millions of Americans from sinking deeper into poverty, we must do more, not less as my Republican colleagues have suggested," Fudge said in an issued statement. "This requires us to target resources to programs in poverty-stricken communities; it requires us to maintain unemployment insurance for the millions of Americans who are among the long-term unemployed; it requires us to reject $40 billion in cuts to nutrition assistance that helps feed hungry families."

Fudge, who promised that the Caucus will not rest until the problem is eradicated, stressed the importance of insurance for the long-term unemployed and fostering higher education to help close the financial gap between the poor and the wealthy.

Evoking Martin Luther King Jr., she said ending poverty is a civil rights issue.

“As Dr. King said, it is much easier to integrate a bus than it is to eradicate slums," she said. "It is much easier to guarantee the right to vote than it is to guarantee an annual income. It is much easier to integrate a public park than it is to create jobs.

"If a man doesn't have a job or an income, he has neither life nor liberty, and the possibility for the pursuit of happiness. He merely exists," Fudge said.

Fudge's full remarks:

“Thank you to my colleague Congresswoman Barbara Lee for her leadership on ensuring we never forget the millions of Americans living in poverty.

“Fifty years ago, President Johnson declared America’s 'War on Poverty.' Yet, too many are still living on the outskirts of hope. We are once again coming to ask America to be true to the promissory note that it signed years ago.

“While the programs created in the last 50 years have kept millions of Americans from sinking deeper into poverty, we must do more, not less as my Republican colleagues have suggested.

“This requires us to target resources to programs in poverty-stricken communities; it requires us to maintain unemployment insurance for the millions of Americans who are among the long-term unemployed; it requires us to reject $40 billion in cuts to nutrition assistance that helps feed hungry families.

“We must remove obstacles for students who are trying to access and complete higher education, such as the new definition of adverse credit keeping thousands of college students out of school.

“We must take a closer, more critical look at policies that contribute to the growing income gap between the very wealthy and the rest of us.

“We must continue the fight championed by President Johnson that would ensure all Americans can support themselves and their families, and have the opportunity to contribute to our economy and to our society. This is how we build upon the progress that has been made over the past five decades, instead of taking action to reverse it.

“I would also like to note that Dr. Martin Luther King’s final message was that ending poverty was a civil rights battle. That message still rings true.

“As Dr. King said, it is much easier to integrate a bus than it is to eradicate slums. It is much easier to guarantee the right to vote than it is to guarantee an annual income. It is much easier to integrate a public park than it is to create jobs. If a man doesn't have a job or an income, he has neither life nor liberty, and the possibility for the pursuit of happiness. He merely exists.

“The fight to end poverty is at the core of who we are as a nation and I believe, is at the core of who most individuals in this nation want to be.

“The Congressional Black Caucus shall not rest until the war on poverty is won. I thank you all for joining us today and for your continued support of our efforts to end poverty in America.”