During a March 4 panel discussion, CNBC senior contributor and Republican economic guru Larry Kudlow, who recently used his profile with America's leading business network to flirt with a Senate bid, noted that he has “virtually no knowledge in [the] field” of issues that affect low-income American families, yet he still used his CPAC platform to shame low-income Americans and lecture single parents.
On March 4, Kudlow appeared on a panel at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) to discuss family issues. Kudlow hyped the misleading claim, frequently promoted by right-wing media, that the growth of single parent households is a primary contributor to poverty in this country. In his opening remarks, Kudlow argued that “welfare is not a substitute for marriage [or] child-rearing,” a theme that he returned to throughout the discussion. While Kudlow used his appearance at CPAC to shame single parent households, at the end of the panel, Kudlow bragged that he is “ignorant” of many issues facing families, but feels that he can speak about them because “there's enough documentation for ignorant people” to talk effectively about the supposed cause-effect relationship between poverty and single parents (emphasis added):
LARRY KUDLOW: I want to talk about a subject that is, I guess not my usual discussion on the air but a very important topic. Marriage. Marriage. Economists should pay more attention to and think more about marriage.
The biggest issue of our time at home is the lack of economic growth. The issue is why. There are a lot of reasons. I'm not going to walk through taxes and regulations because that's what I normally do. Much of the reduction of growth is coming from an increase in poverty which is caused by family breakup. That's where it's coming from. Study after study has shown married families make more income, make more wealth, make more wealth, and are happier.
The problem of growth and the problem of poverty are the real issues. Not inequality. Not socialism, government spending. Not high taxing the rich, penalizing American success. The problem is American values, traditional American values, and the decline of the culture of family and marriage and only we, only we, only we can change this or bolster it or teach it. Do you follow me? No bureaucrat is going to teach that, no House member, God bless all of them you have to do it right where you are at home in your lives, there are right decisions and wrong decisions. The rise with the poverty class is so tightly linked to the incidence of divorce and out-of-wedlock marriages and kids.
I don't think politicians or leaders should be afraid to talk about it. So, here I am. I have virtually no knowledge in this field -- except the fact that I'm married to a saint -- and I'm talking about. And the reason I'm talking about it ... I don't know, I believe it's true. And I believe there is enough documentation for ignorant people like myself to talk about it.
Kudlow is not alone among right-wing media figures in his poor-shaming. In fact, blaming poverty on single parents or irresponsible behavior, and downplaying the experiences of hardworking families, is a hallmark of conservative media rhetoric regarding poverty and family issues. In addition to his adoption of right-wing media's poor-shaming rhetoric, Kudlow is also a climate change denier who has launched numerous sexist attacks on Hillary Clinton in the past.