US Census figures do show that overall poverty was at 20.8 percent in 1996, and by the last census, it was at 17.8 percent. What's missing, however is the ironically smiley face–shaped dip: throughought the Clinton years, almost every poverty measure improved, but since George W. Bush took office, both the poverty rate among children and among African Americans have increased every year.
Between 1993 and 2000, the percentage of children under the age of 18 living in poverty dropped from 22.7 percent to 16.2 percent. Since 2001, that share has increased to 17.8 percent....Coleman also praised the law for helping reduce welfare caseloads; here in Minnesota, he says, cases dropped by 52%. If our stats are anything like those nationwide, there's another untold story. Douglas Besharov of the conservative American Enterprise Institute told Marketplace that "of the 60 percent who left welfare, only about half are working in regular jobs."
While it is correct that the number of African-Americans living in poverty has decreased dramatically over the past 40 years, it also bears mentioning that the percentage fell under Clinton, from 33.1 percent in 1993 to 22.5 percent in 2000. By contrast, from 2001 to 2004, the poverty rate among African-Americans increased from 22.7 percent to 24.7 percent.
The other half are making due. Either living with their parents, living with a boyfriend, or just subsisting on various other non-welfare welfare programs. I call it "welfare lite" because we can see many families that are subsisting — and I use the word subsisting here deliberately — on food stamps, housing aid, other forms of assistance that are not pure welfare.While the successes of this reform are positive--and, admittedly, they fly in the face of predictions made by some on the left--leaders can't rest on the laurels of these advances. If things continue the way they have over the past several years, what will we have to celebrate in another ten?
[Cross-posted at Minnesota Monitor.]