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Monday, September 24, 2012

With 46 Million Americans Poor, Why Isn’t Poverty Campaign Issue?

People line up to talk with case workers at the Illinois Department of Human Services in Champaign, Ill. (AP)

Census numbers released this month show a tiny drop in the rate of poverty, but that’s after three years of increases.

Over 46 million Americans remain poor and the overall rate of poverty is now near what it was when president Johnson launched the so-called “War on Poverty” nearly 50 years ago.

The latest figures have given new life to the debate on poverty with social scientists divided over whether the official rate overestimates or under counts the numbers of the poor and over whether poverty is caused by a bad economy or by bad social choices.

But poverty has not come up on the campaign trail. As the Boston Globe reports:

Much of the rhetoric and promises of both Mitt Romney and President Obama have centered on rescuing the middle class. The word poverty is seldom heard. Yet the election’s outcome could have a profound effect on the nation’s neediest, particularly regarding plans to trim entitlements and slash such programs as food stamps to ease the strain on the federal budget.

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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