RUSH: Now, this next sound bite, this has made some news. It has nothing to do with Iraq. Senator Kennedy was asked if welfare reform has worked.
KENNEDY: Your figures are wrong in terms of child poverty.
CHRIS WALLACE: I’m not —
KENNEDY: Your figures are absolutely wrong as we’ve had increase now in the last five years of the number of children that are living in poverty in the United States of America increased by 1,700,000. We have 36 million Americans that are going to bed hungry every night. Thirty-six million Americans and 12 million of those are children! We’ve had the total number of people that have fallen back into poverty during this Bush administration. We have five million more people that are dropped back into poverty.
RUSH: This is not inane; this is insane. We have full employment. This is a classic illustration of the Democrats and their vision of America as Soup Line America. The dirty little secret is that Senator Kennedy likes this. He likes being able to bandy these numbers about! He wants the people of that country to think that we are all “one paycheck away” from utter financial ruin, bankruptcy, that there’s no security, that poverty is creeping up and everybody is falling into it and falling back into it and it’s all because of the Bush administration. Meanwhile, more revenue is pouring into this country via taxation than ever before.
Why doesn’t somebody ask Senator Kennedy, “Look, you’ve had the war on poverty since 1965, senator, and according to all, all the statistics, the same number of people are in poverty today as were in poverty when the program began.!” I remind you of this, and we had the statistic last week. It’s the result of a scholarly paper, “The Mismeasure of Poverty,” by Nicholas Eberstadt, who had a piece recently in the Policy Review magazine. He made the point that people living in poverty today have the same lifestyles that the middle class in this country lived in the sixties. He also pointed out that poverty statistics today are static and the ways we measure poverty and calculate it have not been updated since 1965 when the war on poverty began. There’s also the number I gave you last week. It runs around 1% of the American population earns 16% of all the wealth in the country, and that of course is calculated on a formula that does not include a number of forms of income, and so the amount of income that is not calculated to get that one-in-16 formula is about 35%. Thirty-five percent of total income is exempted because they don’t count Social Security, transfer payments, the cash underground economy and so forth. So by the time you add in the 35% of income that’s not calculated, the figure becomes one in ten, rather than one in 16.
You add that to the fact that the current people, current poverty… Robert Rector at the Heritage Foundation has done great work on this, too, and I’ve been citing it since the late eighties. Ever since it’s been one of the liberal arguments, bones of contention with me that I’m cold-hearted and cruel because I have no sympathy for the poor and so forth, which of course is not what we’re discussing. What we’re discussing here is just what is poverty in this country. Is poverty where you own your house? Is poverty where you own at least a car? Is poverty where you have air-conditioning? Because that’s the description to handle most people in this country who are below the poverty line. When you learn that people in poverty in America today have the same lives that middle class Americans had 40 years ago, it tells you a lot about how much progress we actually have made in improving lifestyles for every American.
This figure of 36 million people go to bed hungry every night? Maybe they don’t need dinner, who knows, but that is absurd. It is just patently ridiculous. It’s nothing more than a bunch of propaganda designed to tug at your heart strings, to make you think that there is hunger abounding in this country because others don’t care. The haves don’t care, the have-nots are getting bigger and so forth, and this kind of politics is shameful to me because it’s filled with lies and distortions. It creates false impressions of people, and ultimately it ends up destroying people’s faith in their own country — and make no mistake, Senator Kennedy and his ilk would love for you to start doubting capitalism. They would love for you to start doubting free market-ism. They would love for you to think that it doesn’t work and grant government the power to redistribute all the wealth “fairly and equally”… so that everybody suffers.