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It’s back to Two Americas with John Edwards
Posted by: McQ on Thursday, December 28, 2006

John Edwards announced his plans to run for president in '08 yesterday in New Orleans:
Today, former Sen. John Edwards begins testing his hunch that Americans, though focused now on the war in Iraq, can be won over to a campaign built on what he calls "the great moral issue of our time" — fighting poverty at home. He plans to do so with an unorthodox announcement of his candidacy, not standing on a flag-draped stage, but volunteering his labor in New Orleans's Lower Ninth Ward, which is still struggling to recover from Hurricane Katrina.

The North Carolina Democrat's theme of ending the "Two Americas" of haves and have-nots dates to his 2004 presidential bid. Mr. Edwards didn't win his party's nomination then, but his strong reception among voters helped him to secure a place as Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry's running mate. Mr. Edwards argues that the disparity between the richest Americans and the working class has widened since then.

"When I talked about poverty in the 2004 campaign, political types said it was futile," he said in a speech this year. "They said nobody cares about poverty except for the poor. Not true, and we saw it with Katrina."

For him and other presidential hopefuls, crafting a campaign message requires striking a balance between giving voters what they want to hear, and inspiring them to something else.
Of course New Orleans provides a perfect background for the "Two Americas" theme since it is still recovering from Hurricane Katrina. Edwards is facing an uphill battle with his attempt to feature poverty as a main point in his campaign. Most Americans are very aware of poverty, but understand that in many cases, poverty is a self-inflicted wound. They're also usually not at all averse to giving the poor a "helping hand" but resist "temporary" government programs aimed at that which turn into permanent entitlements over the years. The "War on Poverty" started by LBJ in the '60s demonstrated how inept and costly government anti-poverty programs are, especially when voters are informed that the poverty level has remained between 11 and 15% despite trillions in cost. In fact, according to some, the real rate may be higher.

Americans also understand that poverty, for most people, is a result of choices they've made in their lives, not because there is "income inequality" or a lack of opportunity. Immigrants constantly prove the existence of opportunity by coming to America and succeeding despite the obstacles of language, culture and sometimes education.
Those cheering on Mr. Edwards's antipoverty crusade include party strategist Donna Brazile, who was Al Gore's campaign manager in his 2000 presidency bid. Recalling Mr. Edwards's past emphasis on the "Two Americas" theme, she says: "In 2004, that message went largely unheard. To his credit, he kept at it. And Katrina demonstrated the validity of that message."
Katrina demonstrated two things. That, indeed, poor people exist. No one has ever questioned that. It also demonstrated in spades that inept governments at all levels were unprepared and unable to really help them in their time of need.

Edwards, to his political credit, has decided to broaden his "Two Americas" theme to include the middle class:
Yet as Mr. Edwards has suggested in speeches, his antipoverty theme is broader than helping Katrina's victims. He speaks of "the forgotten middle class" and of workers generally, who have seen their wages stagnate and benefits erode.
Not that I agree but politically this actually may get some attention and traction as a perceived problem. But again, anyone running for the presidency has only one solution - government. Bigger and more intrusive. What Edwards is peddling is the idea that the solution to poverty and the erosion of the middle class is government.

How?
In that speech, he set a national goal of ending poverty in 30 years for the 37 million Americans living below the poverty line, lifting one-third of them above it in each of the next three decades. His "Working Society" agenda would mean a higher federal minimum wage, reduced taxes for low-income workers, universal health care, and one million new housing vouchers for working families, to help them find homes in neighborhoods with better schools.

Mr. Edwards proposes "Work Bonds" to provide tax credits to match low-wage workers' own long-term savings. He calls for the government to partner with nonprofit organizations to create a million "stepping stone" jobs, to help welfare recipients and others get experience on local projects so they can go on to better-paying private-sector jobs. And he would open "second-chance schools" aimed at the increased number of high-school students who drop out before graduating.
A thirty year boondoggle aimed at doing what another 30 year boondoggle costing trillions couldn't accomplish. And not a single mention of helping grow the economy. Not one. The primary engine by which people lift themselves out of poverty is completely ignored in favor of government programs of dubious or little worth.

Equally as dubious is Edwards single mention of Iraq:
Mr. Edwards has paired his domestic agenda with a call to immediately reduce U.S. forces in Iraq by at least 40,000.
You can't help but think it is a hand-wave at the problem with a number pulled out of thin air in order to point out that he hasn't ignored it.

Also on the agenda, according to his website:
Provide moral leadership in the world,

Guarantee universal health care for every American

Lead the fight against global warming

Get America and other countries off our addiction to oil
Obviously the last item is something all of us are interested in. But, as with most "addictions", the addicted are going to have to make that a priority, and, at the moment, that doesn't seem to be the case nor has it really been the case for decades. But it remains wonderful political fodder for both sides.

Universal health care and fighting global warming, of course, if government based, are enormously expensive endeavors. The skeptical and cynical among us already are wondering why we would ever want to trust things of such importance to an institution which has no past history of success in fighting poverty (or much else) but does have one of incompetence, waste, fraud and abuse in about every endeavor it has undertaken outside of it's core purpose of defending our rights.

If there are two Americas, it is made up of those who believe government is the solution and those who believe, more than ever, that government is, for the most part, the problem. And naturally, John Edwards falls into the former category.
 
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Obama is gay?

Edwards is running on ONE CORPSE, ONE AMERICAN?

 
Written By: PU
URL: http://
And not a single mention of helping grow the economy. Not one. The primary engine by which people lift themselves out of poverty is completely ignored in favor of government programs of dubious or little worth.
Simple McQ - if the economy grows, it creates evil rich people. That is bad. And it tends to move people from voting for their entitlements to voting to keep what they earn. Not exactly the combo Edwards needs to get elected ;-)

Happy New Year!
 
Written By: meagain
URL: http://
If i work at burger king and all i can afford for lunch is a cheeseburger, forcing the BK lounge to pay me more only increases prices of my cheeseburger and thus i am still poor.
 
Written By: josh b
URL: http://
what we really need, is lower priced cheeseburgers, say hello to Wal-Burger. Wal-mart has done more to help the poor than 50 years of welfare and entitlements.
 
Written By: josh b
URL: http://
Apparently this is not receiving the coverage it should.
When the US government ended "welfare as we know it" in 1996, it handed responsibility for reform to the states. In so doing, it also created a real-world test of two competing economic strategies used to fight poverty. The results are in and the lessons are clear: Low tax rates lift up the lives of America’s poor.
 
Written By: tom scott
URL: http://
I agree Tom, but it has gotten coverage here at QandO.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
that thing should be on digg front page. Sadly digg is not real friendly to anything supportive to conservative viewpoints
 
Written By: josh b
URL: http://
He calls for the government to partner with nonprofit organizations to create a million "stepping stone" jobs, to help welfare recipients and others get experience on local projects so they can go on to better-paying private-sector jobs.

There’s a new idea...yaknow if that actually worked we wouldn’t have to be trying it again..but it’s actually successful at least as far as having the gov’t create new jobs at do nothing bureaucracies and non profits
 
Written By: Bandit
URL: http://
He calls for the government to partner with nonprofit organizations to create a million "stepping stone" jobs,
out of thin air. That’s right, I’m John Edwards,and I’m running for Magician President.

Talk about empty promises.
 
Written By: Jinnmabe
URL: http://
Sorry McQ. I bookmarked the newspaper article but forgot where I read it.
 
Written By: tom scott
URL: http://
The problem with conservatives is that ideology takes precedence over facts and evidence. Conservatives will always follow ideology regardless of what the facts and evidence show. They are always going to oppose government programs, government regulations, tax increases, regardless of what the records show. The fact is, government programs have been successful in reducing the poverty rate. From 1959 – 1978, the poverty rate was cut in half from 22 percent to 11 percent.

http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/histpov/hstpov2.html

During the 1980’s and early 1990’s the poverty rate increased as a result of conservative presidents cutting spending on government programs that help the poor. After a Democrat took over the presidency, the poverty rate started going back down as spending was increased to help the poor. An increased minimum wage, the earned income tax credit, and housing vouchers helped lift millions of people out of poverty during the 1990’s.

What conservatives don’t understand is that there are good government programs and bad government programs. For conservatives all government is bad. There have been many government programs that have been successful in helping the poor. The GI Bill allowed millions of Americans to go to college that never would have been able to without it. Medicaid has enabled many poor Americans to receive healthcare that they would not have been able to before. After Medicaid was enacted, the infant mortality rate among poor people was reduced significantly.

Conservatives are also opposed to providing universal healthcare since this would mean government involvement. The fact is, most other industrial countries have universal healthcare and they spend less money on healthcare than the U.S. and get better results. There are a number of countries that have longer life expectancies and lower infant mortality rates than the U.S. even though they spend much less money on healthcare than the U.S. does. The one thing in common these countries have is some type of universal healthcare.

Conservatives are also opposed to any government environmental regulations. The fact is, in the past environmental regulations have not hurt the economy. We had large economic expansions in the 1980’s and 1990’s in spite of environmental regulations.
 
Written By: Brian
URL: http://
and one million new housing vouchers for working families, to help them find homes in neighborhoods with better schools.
So who is going to go to the old school? Just the kids of the families that don’t work? Just because there parents are lazy doesn’t mean the child isn’t entitled to a good education.
 
Written By: Mac
URL: http://
Suggestion for stepping stone job: bricklayers on Mexican border wall.
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
The problem with conservatives is that ideology takes precedence over facts and evidence. Conservatives will always follow ideology regardless of what the facts and evidence show. They are always going to oppose government programs, government regulations, tax increases, regardless of what the records show. The fact is, government programs have been successful in reducing the poverty rate. From 1959 – 1978, the poverty rate was cut in half from 22 percent to 11 percent.
Funny, you start from 1959, when the "War on Poverty" didn’t start until the mid-60s, and its rolls didn’t really expand widely until the late 60s. Yet, the poverty rate fell from 22.4% to 14.7% by 1966.

Huh. All that without a "War on Poverty".

Oh, and the Poverty rate is calculated on pre-tax, pre-transfers income, so the "poverty rate" doesn’t actually indicate that those people are living in poverty. All the poverty spending in the world would not change the poverty rate.
During the 1980’s and early 1990’s the poverty rate increased as a result of conservative presidents cutting spending on government programs that help the poor.
A’ight, fact-finder. Which programs were cut, by how much and in what years were those program cut?

 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://QandO.net
The only problem with the two Americas theory is that most of the people who are in the "have money" category are those with any amount of drive, education and skills to sell. The "have nots" are generally the welfare babies, the high school slackers who were content to work retail for barely above minimum wage, etc. There is no shortage of opportunity to get skills that are marketable thanks to community colleges and state universities. Anyone who fails to even try hard to do that deserves to be in the have-not camp.
 
Written By: MikeT
URL: http://www.codemonkeyramblings.com
but MIKET! you evil heartless bastard! You cant make people reap what they sow, you cant force them to deal with what they got, or worst of all, blame them for their problems! You meanie head!
 
Written By: josh b
URL: http://
During the 1980’s and early 1990’s the poverty rate increased as a result of conservative presidents cutting spending on government programs that help the poor.

Sorry your numbers don’t quite line up - how could the poverty rate have started going up after 1978 when Reagen wasn’t innaugurated until 1981?

There have been many government programs that have been successful in helping the poor.

Then why do we still have poor people? Does it have anything to do with the number of children born to unwed mothers, school dropout rates or immigration rates?

The GI Bill allowed millions of Americans to go to college that never would have been able to without it. Medicaid has enabled many poor Americans to receive healthcare that they would not have been able to before.

Well since we still have the GI Bill and Medicaid what does that have to do with the poverty rate?

The fact is, most other industrial countries have universal healthcare and they spend less money on healthcare than the U.S. and get better results.

Really? Then why do people flock from all over the world to come to the US for medical treatment?

There are a number of countries that have longer life expectancies

Would you like to compare their immigration rates to the US?

lower infant mortality rates than the U.S.

Infant mortality in other countries can’t be compared to the US because of completely different pre and post natal procedures and record keeping. Comparing apples and oranges.

in the past environmental regulations have not hurt the economy. We had large economic expansions in the 1980’s and 1990’s in spite of environmental regulations.

If they don’t hurt the economy how could we have growth in spite of them?

Do you know anything about anything?
 
Written By: Bandit
URL: http://
Jon,

President Johnson started his war on poverty in 1964. In addition, there were already social programs in place, which helped reduce poverty. Social Security greatly reduced the poverty rate for senior citizens.

You asked:

A’ight, fact-finder. Which programs were cut, by how much and in what years were those program cut?

During the Reagan Presidency the budget for the Department of Housing and Urban Development was reduced from $32.2 billion to $7.5 billion.
 
Written By: Brian
URL: http://
Sorry your numbers don’t quite line up - how could the poverty rate have started going up after 1978 when Reagen wasn’t innaugurated until 1981?

Government spending is not the only factor in what the poverty rate is. The poverty rate is not automatically going to drop every single year as a result of spending increases but it does make a difference. Overall, the poverty rate was much lower during the administrations that increased spending on fighting poverty than it was during the administrations that decreased spending.

Well since we still have the GI Bill and Medicaid what does that have to do with the poverty rate?

The poverty rate would probably be higher now if we did not have the GI Bill and poor people would be much worse off without Medicaid.

Really? Then why do people flock from all over the world to come to the US for medical treatment?

They don’t. Most people in other industrial countries go to hospitals in their own country for medical treatment. In addition, a number of Americans go to other countries for healthcare because they can’t afford it here.

There are a number of countries that have longer life expectancies

Would you like to compare their immigration rates to the US?


What do immigration rates have to do with life expectancy. Do you have any references or statistics showing that immigration rates are the reason why our life expectancy is shorter here than in other countries.

Infant mortality in other countries can’t be compared to the US because of completely different pre and post natal procedures and record keeping. Comparing apples and oranges.

What are your references for this? According to this article, the U.S. has the second highest infant mortality rate in the world:
http://www.cnn.com/2006/HEALTH/parenting/05/08/mothers.index/index.html

 
Written By: Brian
URL: http://
Funny, you start from 1959, when the "War on Poverty" didn’t start until the mid-60s, and its rolls didn’t really expand widely until the late 60s. Yet, the poverty rate fell from 22.4% to 14.7% by 1966.
Another example of the rooster taking credit for the sunrise.

As long as "poverty" is measured as a relative term it cannot, by it’s very definition, ever be eliminated. The "poverty rate" can only measure the spread between rich and poor (which is irrelevant for everybody involved), it says nothing about the absolute living standards of the poorest (which is highly relevant). What the statistics show is that when inflation in the late sixties until the early 80’s destroyed the value of the dollar, it hurt the income of those above the median more than it hurt those below the median (since it eroded a proportion of everybody’s income those with more lost more). But make no mistake, everybody was worse off. Inflation is a great equalizer which is why it has been the primary tool of leftist populists since William Jennings Bryan. But it makes everybody worse off.
 
Written By: DS
URL: http://
I hesitate to get all religious(especially Christian), but what about the poor in spirit? They deserve something too.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://

 
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