With a new gauge, the poverty rate ticks upward

posted at 4:21 pm on November 15, 2012 by Erika Johnsen

As President Obama so often and helpfully reminds us…

…he’s the real champion of the downtrodden, and as he rarely fails to inform us, he’s here to make sure that the rich don’t get richer off of the backs of those who can least afford it. But here’s the tricky thing about measures that operate on the basis of “fairness”: Maybe you “just” want to skim a little off of the richest of the rich, but you’ll probably end up making the poor, poorer in the process.

For all of President Obama’s stimulus and entitlement expansions and deficit spending, it doesn’t look like it’s doing much to boost people into the middle class. According to a new census report, the number of people in poverty in the U.S. increased to about 50 million people in 2011, via the AP:

The ranks of America’s poor edged up last year to a high of 49.7 million, based on a new census measure that takes into account medical costs and work-related expenses.

The numbers released Wednesday by the Census Bureau are part of a newly developed supplemental poverty measure. Devised a year ago, this measure provides a fuller picture of poverty that the government believes can be used to assess safety-net programs by factoring in living expenses and taxpayer-provided benefits that the official formula leaves out.

Based on the revised formula, the number of poor people exceeded the 49 million, or 16 percent of the population, who were living below the poverty line in 2010. That came as more people in the slowly improving economy picked up low-wage jobs last year but still struggled to pay living expenses. The revised poverty rate of 16.1 percent also is higher than the record 46.2 million, or 15 percent, that the government’s official estimate reported in September.

It’s a new measurement system, ergo not dealing in constant variables, but the gist of all of this is that despite the additions to federal and state welfare spending, it’s been four years and by far too many measures, things have conspicuously not improved. We spent trillions of dollars to end up with an employment rate barely budging the one we started with (minus the decreased labor participation rate!). Stagnant economic growth and poor job creation are what drive people into poverty, and no amount of government spending or assistance can mitigate that. Prosperity is what lifts up and aids the greatest number of people, and prosperity is something that is remarkably at odds with a lot of the effects of President Obama’s agenda.


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