Cynthia Tucker on Poverty

In a column in today’s Elmira Star-Gazette, Cynthia Tucker writes that Republicans have nothing of substance to offer the poor.  She notes:

  • Claims that past poverty programs were ineffective
  • Suggestions that people get married to prosper
  • Claims that reducing spending and rescinding regulations reduces poverty

Tucker writes that Republican Steve Southerland, as well as Speaker John Boehner (and I would add Tom Reed) say that more people are poor today than 50 years ago.  Tucker acknowledges that this is true although misleading. Her rejoinder is that the percentage of those living in poverty is lower today than it was then. In any case, a crude comparison of conditions today and fifty years ago neglects many significant factors that might explain differences between then and now.

Tucker says she is all for marriage, but clearly marriage is no cure for poverty — the claim that marriage is a cure for poverty “confuses cause and correlation.” She writes:

Any survey of government data will show you that the poorest households are more likely to be headed by single mothers. But would they be any more prosperous if they were married to men who are unemployed?

Tucker, a resident of Georgia, explains that cuts in spending and repeal of regulations there have been accompanied by a significant increase rather than a decrease in poverty. Tucker’s argument has the same flaw as the first point above — factors other than spending and regulations might have affected poverty in Georgia.  But if Georgia went from 20th to seventh highest in poverty among the states as Tucker claims, clearly something is wrong there. 

Tom Reed has suggested that the cure for poverty is education; there is nothing wrong with education, but clearly more is needed than that, especially if no concrete financial support is envisioned.

On the same page of the Star Gazette, outspoken Republican Mike Morrongiello, a Corning Psychologist, suggests that as some see no evidence for global warming, the answer to poverty is fracking — more nonsense. Fracking may produce a bubble in employment, but for how long and at what cost?

Is Tucker right?  Do Republicans have nothing to offer to reduce poverty?  Perhaps a reader will offer a suggestion.  Other developed countries are far ahead of us in reducing poverty. Democrats and Republicans alike should study their experience to learn what works.

© William Hungerford – January 2014

About whungerford

* Contributor at where we discuss the politics, economics, and events of the New New York 23rd Congressional District (Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chemung, (Eastern) Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben,Tioga, Tompkins, and Yates Counties) Please visit and comment on whatever strikes your fancy.
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6 Responses to Cynthia Tucker on Poverty

  1. BOB McGILL says:

    did anyone ever think that some people are just plain lazy and like living that way ? Also, did Georgia put their mentally ill out in the streets like New York ?


  2. Deb Meeker says:

    We must be talking about politicians here, because some Republican individuals I know don’t believe in what Congressional Republicans are pushing. Cynthia Tucker’s analysis is true, if in fact what is heard in sound bites by Republican leaders, continues to be followed up with their deeds. Since 2009, the GOP votes have matched their rhetoric.

    With heretofore unheard of levels of partisanship in politics ( with the exception perhaps of the Civil War era) and the public discourse, there seems to be a somewhat gloomy forecast, at least until the 2014 elections. And then what? How long, even under ideal election outcome, will it take to undo some of the harm, austerity politics have already done?


  3. solodm says:

    Sorry didn’t mean to be such a downer..


  4. whungerford says:

    Fifty years ago Congress did agree on a plan to end poverty. Experts could probably make an even better plan today, if the people demand it.


  5. Dancer says:

    Sadly there seems to be a preoccupation with the idea that there is ONE WAY to solve the problem of poverty (which, of course, if YOU are not poor is NOT a problem). Love the let’s just assume that people are lazy response. Can’t our wealthy CONGRESS seek more than one potential solution to a problem? SILLY ME, I know that answer. Here’s a question for the wingnuts that like to say: “But they (the poor) have tvs, microwaves, washing machines and cell phones (as if ALL do).” To which I’d ask…then if our congresspeople have two homes, stipends for their food, travel, staffs, etc and all the other goodies, WHY do they need all the money we pay them??? Just saying. Especially given that they are doing little to help with the real issues facing this country while they continue (many on both sides) to work against any progress the president/administration might try solve or improve. I agree with Tom Reed about education but seriously doubt we’d see eye to eye on how to IMPROVE the education system. But, here’s an idea, let’s pay teachers what we’re willing to pay people in Congress (and vice versa)…they work longer hours and have a DIRECT effect on those in their charge.


  6. whungerford says:

    “Let’s pay teachers what we’re willing to pay people in Congress” is a fine idea, but I would be satisfied if members of Congress would earn their pay by taking reasonable measures to provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty for all.


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