How Should the Government Address Poverty in the United States?

With President Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty” marking its 50th anniversary, the debate over the most effective way for the United States to fight poverty continues. Some argue that the United States has become a “welfare state” where people receive handouts from the government (food, money or other assistance) and that the existence of these programs discourage many people from seeking employment. Others argue that these “safety net” programs have halted a further increase in poverty and are necessary to get families who are in poverty back on the right track. Furthermore, new solutions to poverty are being proposed by the President, and leaders from both Democratic and Republican parties. Today, as the U.S. poverty rate stands at 14.5 percent, consider the following question:

How should the Government address poverty in the United States?

Teaching about Poverty                                                                                                                                                               

Background Information

Poverty in the U.S. (9 min)
Olivia Golden, Center for Law and Social Policy
& Robert Doar, American Enterprise Institute


Background Article

50 Years Later, War on Poverty is a Mixed Bag - New York Times

Explore Viewpoints: Current Programs

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) (5 mins) 
Marisol Bello, National Reporter, USA Today

Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) (2 min)
William McBride, Chief Economist,Tax Foundation

Temporary Assistance to Needed Families
LaDonna Pavetti, Center for Budget and Policy Priorities

Explore Viewpoints: Program Reforms

SNAP Importance and Reforms (2 mins)
Patty Stonesifer, President and CEO, Martha's Table

EITC Reforms (3 mins)
Jason Fichtner & C. Eugene Steuerle

TANF Reforms (3 mins)
Jason Turner, Secretary's Innovation Group