Fox News Needs To Read This New Study On Poverty Programs

A new study reveals how successful government safety net programs are at keeping people out of poverty, delivering an additional blow to the Fox News myth that government assistance cannot improve the lives of low-income individuals.

According to The Washington Post, researchers Christopher Wimer and Liana Fox of the Columbia Population Research Center found that from 1967 to 2012, the safety net reduced the poverty rate from 26 to 16 percent.

Official poverty measures did not take government programs used by low-income Americans into account before 2010, often giving the appearance that poverty rates have remained unchanged over the past 50 years. Wimer and Fox adjusted poverty rates going back to 1967 to take into account additional costs and the effect of safety net programs, revealing the 10-point drop in poverty. Previous research by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities suggested that government programs reduce the official poverty rate, but Wimer and Fox found that the safety net has an even greater effect in reducing poverty.

The findings of the study reveal how crucial government anti-poverty programs are, undercutting the right-wing media myth rampant on Fox News that government programs cannot help low-income people.

Fox Business contributor Charles Payne made this point as recently as September, arguing that government assistance has been a waste because poverty numbers have not decreased since the “Great Society” in the 1960s, which implemented many anti-poverty measures.

In a discussion on The O'Reilly Factor, Fox Business' John Stossel recently railed against anti-poverty programs, claiming that government makes poverty “worse with these government programs” and that “we should get rid of most of government and allow poor people to become rich.”

Indeed, the belief that government assistance cannot help low-income individuals is somewhat of a theme in the right-wing media, with figures continually questioning the efficacy of safety net programs.

The study also found that absent government safety net programs, 29 percent of Americans would be in poverty today -- an increase since 1967. These findings show that while the economy has grown tremendously in the past few decades, the gains have not reached those at the bottom.

The study reinforces previous research about the nature of growing income inequality in America. However, it is unlikely that voices in right-wing media will take notice of the findings as a problem, especially considering previous calls to reduce inequality have been met with staunch opposition and accusations of implementing a communist agenda.

While Fox News may continue to dismiss government assistance as wasteful, it doesn't change the fact that it plays a critical role in reducing poverty and inequality.