War on Poverty Day

War on Poverty Day is observed next on Wednesday, January 8th, 2025 (178 days from today).

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President Lyndon Johnson declared an "unconditional war" on poverty on January 8th, 1964. Depending on your ideology, the effort that follows is either "a disaster" (Robert Principal of Heritage) or "living up to our best hope as a person who values dignity and the potential of every human being" (White House bulletin on the anniversary). Fortunately, we have factual data on these issues to clarify exactly what happened after Johnson's statement and the role government programs played. Here's what you need to know.

What was the war on poverty?

The term "war on poverty" generally refers to a series of initiatives proposed by Johnson's administration, passed by Parliament, and implemented by his Cabinet agencies. Because Johnson put the term “war on povertyt” in his 1964 speech at State of the Union to announce the effort, my aim is not only to alleviate the symptoms of poverty, but to cure it and all prevent it.

Why did it start when it did?

Besides Johnson's personal interest in the issue, several factors made 1964-65 the ideal time for the fight against poverty to begin. In 1962, the publication of Michael Harrington's "The Other America", an exposure demonstrating that poverty in America is more common than its believe, focused on public debate as well as Dwight MacDonald's 13,000-word review of the book in The New Yorker. Many historians, such as Harrington's biographer Maurice Isserman, have credited Harrington and the book (which John F. Kennedy purposely read while in office, along with a review by MacDonald) with encouraged Kennedy and later Johnson to develop an anti-poverty program, in which Harrington (although a member of the Socialist Party) consulted with Daniel Patrick Moynihan and OEO Director Sargent Shriver.

The civil rights movement also deserves considerable credit for coercion. Groups such as the NAACP and the Urban League have been prominent allies of the Johnson administration in advancing the Economic Opportunity Act and other legislation on the subject. Another factor is the fact that we don't have good data on poverty until shortly before the fight over it begins; Our numbers only go back to 1959.

What are you doing now to fight poverty?

So many things! We can expand working poverty programs like Social Security, Earned Income Tax Credit, child tax credits and food stamps, or at least reverse the cuts. recently to the following program. Similarly, we can cut taxes on the working poor, perhaps by exempting the first $10,000 of a worker's income from payroll taxes, or by cutting the extreme marginal tax rate. efficiency period faced by poor Americans. We could adopt a still more impressive transition regime, such as a basic income subsidy or low income wage. We can invest in education, for example, by replicating successful pre-K pilots like the Perry or Abecedarian trials, or by expanding high-performing charter schools and letting schools Traditional companies apply their approach. We could raise the minimum wage, which all researchers see as reducing poverty.


War on Poverty Day has been observed annually on January 8th.


Sunday, January 8th, 2023

Monday, January 8th, 2024

Wednesday, January 8th, 2025

Thursday, January 8th, 2026

Friday, January 8th, 2027

Also on Wednesday, January 8th, 2025

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