Americans have been told time and time again that social programs are a drain on the economy that destroy the will to work creating a culture of dependency, but studies show that this is just another lie used to push for changes that are not in the best interest of the American people.
The Republican Party wants us to believe that these programs or nothing more than handouts to the lazy, but the simple fact is that 70 percent of Americans will use these programs at some point during their lives.
They want you to believe that these programs breed a culture of dependency. The truth is, these programs make it more likely that poor children will graduate high school, go to college and enter the middle class.
In his 1964 State of the Union address, President Lyndon B. Johnson announced his plan for a war on poverty, which consisted of four major pieces of legislation that were aimed at lowering the poverty rate in America.
- Economic Opportunity Act: Established the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO), which was created to manage the programs created by the new legislation such as the Job Corps, Head Start and the Community Action Program.
- The Social Security Act of 1965: Created Medicare and Medicaid.
- The Food Stamp Act: Gave permanent legislative authority to the Food Stamp Program.
- The Elementary and Secondary Education Act: Provided extensive funding for primary and secondary education for the purpose of professional development, instructional materials, for resources to support educational programs, and for parental involvement promotion, and placed an emphasis on equality in education.
These programs have been responsible for reducing poverty from 26 percent in 1967 to 16 percent in 2012.
It is not only important that we keep these programs, we must expand these programs to insure that every child born in America has food to eat, a place to live and that they receive a proper education so that their future in life is not determined by the class that they are born to, but by their hard work, commitment to success and the content of their character.
We must insure that the elderly and disabled have the means to survive.
Currently, 9.5 percent of those over 65 and more than one-third of the disabled are living in poverty. If it were not for Social Security, 42.6% of the elderly and more than three-quarters of the disabled would be living in poverty. That equates to 22.1 million Americans that would be living in poverty without Social Security.
The problem is that Social Security is going broke.
Under the current tax provisions, Social Security will only be able to meet its requirements through 2033.
The fix is simple. We need to eliminate the cap on the social security tax.
The current cap is $118,500, which means you only pay the tax on the first $118,500 in earnings. That means that a person making $50, 000 a year pays the tax on their full earnings, but a person making $250,000 pays the tax on less than half of their earnings while a person making $500,000 would pay the tax on less than a quarter of their earnings.
If we remove the tax, we would be able to raise benefits by 50 -percent, lifting more Americans out of poverty, and the program would remain solvent for an additional 60 years.
If it had not been for food stamps and unemployment benefits, 4.4 million Americans would have fell into poverty during the Great Recession.
Of that 4.4 million, 1.6 million would have been children.
We need to increase the benefit of the SNAP program and the unemployment benefit by 25%. The current benefits are just not realistic. With current snap benefits, the average beneficiary receives about $5 per day, which is not enough for a healthy diet.
The cost of these changes would require an increase in funding of $43.5 billion, but it is something that we must do.
Without these changes, the programs will not be able to meet the needs of the American people. As stated earlier, this does not just benefit the poor, more than 70% of Americans will use these programs at some point in their lives. It is important that when Americans need these programs, these programs meet the needs of Americans.
Without these programs, millions more of our elderly will fall into poverty, millions of children will go hungry and millions of Americans would find themselves out on the streets.
The simple fact is, the greatest nation in the world would not allow its children to go hungry, would not allow its citizens to fall into poverty due to setbacks in the economy, or because they have reached the end of their working lives.
The greatest nation in the world would take care of its own.
Eleven part series on my 9-point economic plan:
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