September 16, 2010

Poverty in America: 2010 The Obama administration has responded to reports of an epidemic growth of poverty in America to levels not seen since the 1960s by categorically ruling out any anti-poverty programs like those initiated under the administration of Lyndon B. Johnson. In the midst of a week-long campaign of speeches and events aimed at packaging the administration’s pro-corporate policies as populist measures to aid the “middle class,” Obama exhibited callous indifference to the suffering of millions of Americans when he was queried at his Friday press conference about possible anti-poverty measures. A reporter asked, “On the economy, could you discuss your efforts at reviewing history as it relates to the poverty agenda, meaning LBJ and Dr. King?” “I think the history of anti-poverty efforts,” Obama replied, “is that the most important anti-poverty effort is growing the economy… It’s more important than any program we could set up. It’s more important than any transfer payment we could have.” This could not have been more clear: No anti-poverty programs. Instead, in words that could have been spoken by Reagan, Thatcher or any other reactionary free-market ideologue, Obama insisted that the only basis for alleviating poverty was “economic growth,” i.e., the growth of corporate profits. On Sunday, White House economic adviser Austan Goolsbee repeated the same mantra. He was asked on the ABC news program This Week about the poverty rate rising “to 15 percent, back to 1960s levels, which led to the national war on poverty.” “I think the number one thing you can...

Jodi Dean

Jodi Dean is a political theorist.

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