In a sidebar on page 264 of Glenn Beck's Broke entitled “Poverty 1, America O,” Beck quotes President Johnson saying “I have called for a national war on poverty. Our objective: total victory.” Beck comments, “You would think that people would eventually realize that national wars on things like poverty and drugs only result in more poverty and drugs,” and goes on to advocate for “cities and states doing what is best for their communities, not a career politician in Washington deciding how to dole out federal aid money.”
In reality, Johnson made the comment Beck cites in 1964. According to the Census Bureau, 19 percent of Americans were living below the federal poverty level that year. The next year, it dipped to 17.3 percent; the following year, to 14.7 percent. In 1969, the year after the conclusion of Johnson's presidency, only 12.1 percent of Americans were living below the poverty line, a drop of nearly 7 percentage points in the five years after Johnson declared his “War on Poverty.”
Since then, there have been only four years in which the number of Americans living in poverty has exceeded 14.5 percent; the highest rate was in 1983, under Ronald Reagan -- probably the president who did the most to follow Beck's “cities and states” strategy.
Don't you hate it when the facts get in the way of good rhetoric?