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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 9/14/10

One in seven Americans now living in poverty

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"ó Asked whom they trusted to manage the economy, only 23 percent chose President Obama and even fewer, 19 percent, chose his Republican opponents in Congress. Nearly half, 45 percent, trusted neither.

Such figures give a glimpse of the enormous social and political gulf that has opened up in America, between the wealthy elite at the top--which controls both the Democratic and Republican parties--and the working people who constitute the vast majority of the population, but are entirely unrepresented in the existing two-party system.

The comparisons between the current poverty rate and that in 1965, when Johnson launched his abortive "war on poverty," demonstrate how far to the right the official political consensus has moved. No Democratic or Republican politician today proposes even the slightest gesture to alleviate the growth of poverty and social misery, let alone a serious mobilization of society's resources.

When President Obama was asked about the growth of poverty during his Friday morning press conference, he responded with words taken directly from a right-wing Republican, Ronald Reagan, who declared that the best anti-poverty program was a job (meaning that nothing should be done to assist those for whom the capitalist system could not provide employment).

Obama's new top economic adviser, Austin Goolsbee, reiterated this stand during interviews on several Sunday morning television programs. He told the ABC program "This Week" that unemployment was going "to stay high," adding, "I don't anticipate it coming down rapidly."

When interviewer Christiane Amanpour asked him directly about the new report on the poverty rate rising "to 15 percent, back to 1960 levels, which led to the national war on poverty," Goolsbee dismissed the implicit comparison.

"I think the number one thing you can do to address poverty also is the way you address unemployment and the way you address the squeeze of the middle class, that is get the economy growing and get people back to work," he said. Underscoring the subservience of the Obama administration to big business, he concluded, "Let's get the private sector stood up so that they can, you know, carry us out of this."

This perspective underscores the current wrangling between the White House and congressional Republicans, over how many hundreds of billions of dollars should be handed over to big business and the super-rich.

The Obama administration is proposing a package of business tax breaks worth a reported $200 billion over the next two years. The Republicans are holding out for an extension of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, which would pump an additional $780 billion into the pockets of the financial aristocracy.

Neither big business party proposes any policies to directly create jobs for the unemployed, such as a major expansion of public works, to provide emergency relief for the growing numbers of poor and unemployed, or to alleviate the mounting scourges of utility shutoffs, homelessness and hunger.

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Patrick Martin writes for the World Socialist Website (wsws.org), a forum for socialist ideas & analysis & published by the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI).
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