While nominating Jason Furman to replace Alan Krueger as the chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers at the White House on Monday afternoon, President Obama made what Politico called a “rare mention” of child poverty in the United States:

“Even though the economy is growing, too many middle class families still feel like they’re working harder and harder and can’t get ahead,” Obama said. “Inequality is still growing in our society. Too many young people aren’t sure whether they’ll be able to match the living standards of their parents. We have too many kids in poverty in this country, still.”

Furman, should he be confirmed by the Senate, would replace Alan Krueger, who is leaving the White House for a post at Princeton University. Along with “political will,” Obama said it will take the work Furman and the work his staff to push his economic agenda.

And there it is — that ever-present liberal specter of “inequality,” the phantom of progressive imaginations in which one tiny group of Americans is essentially pillaging their ill-begotten wealth from an increasingly large swath of hardworking but somehow poorer and poorer Americans, speaks for much of the basis of President Obama’s economic agenda. It is the convenient and noble-sounding excuse he provides for needing to step in and forcibly redistribute the wealth — instead of endorsing the much more prosperous reality of a freer and more open economy in which people are constantly creating wealth and enriching the basic standard of living in the process.

Decades of liberal policies directly meant to combat poverty have spectacularly failed to eliminate the problem, but somehow, here we are with another Democratic administration — and yet poverty rates ticking upward to their highest levels in decades — with child poverty sitting at around 20 percent. A newly released NBC/WSJ poll suggests that at least a plurality of Americans are unconvinced that many of the federal government’s perhaps well-meaning but ultimately ill-conceived schemes for combating poverty are really all that effective:

Two decades after President Bill Clinton promised to “end welfare as we know it,” Americans blame government handouts for persistent poverty in the United States more than any other single factor, according to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Thursday.

Given a list of eight factors and asked to choose the one most responsible for the continuing problem of poverty, 24 percent of respondents in the poll chose “too much government welfare that prevents initiative.” …

“Lack of job opportunities” was the second most popular answer, at 18 percent, followed by “lack of good educational opportunities” and “breakdown of families,” with 13 percent apiece.

A robust economy with many and diverse opportunities for private-sector jobs, rather than the practically stagnant “recovery” mess through which we’ve been traipsing for the past few years, is much more effective at lifting people out of poverty than any poverty programs can ever hope to be — and a robust economy is a goal to which too many of President Obama’s policies are directly counterproductive.