News / USA

Obama Declares Gains in Poverty War, but Not Victory

Republicans Address War on Povertyi
January 09, 2014 1:03 PM
On the 50th anniversary of former president Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty, Republican and Democratic lawmakers have vowed to keep up the fight - with different approaches. Republican Senator Marco Rubio says the federal government has failed in its effort to end poverty, and he is proposing a new way forward. Democrats disagree. VOA’s Cindy Saine reports from Capitol Hill.
VOA’s Cindy Saine related video report
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U.S. President Barack Obama is marking the 50th anniversary of the country's War on Poverty, a battle he says the country has only partially won.

Obama said Wednesday the fight started by President Lyndon Johnson in 1964 has sharply cut the share of older Americans living in poverty and given almost all of them government health insurance to cover their medical bills. He cited a recent report that said the country's poverty rate has fallen nearly 40 percent since the 1960s.

The most recent U.S. government surveys in 2012 show nearly 50 million Americans are impoverished, about 16 percent of the country's more than 300 million residents. Some population experts say that figure is marginally better than five decades ago.

The official poverty line in the U.S. is $23,283 in annual income for a family of four, but it varies depending on family size and location.

Obama said the gains "lived up to our best hopes as a people who value the dignity and potential of every human being."

But Obama said the country's effort to fight poverty is "far from over." He said "far too many" children are still born into poverty and that "far too few have a fair shot" to escape it.

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