• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Obama’s New "Spread-the-Wealth" Poverty Measure Off the Table…For Now

    Good news: At the end of July, the federal government announced it will not be implementing President Obama’s spread-the-wealth “Supplemental Poverty Measure.”

    The Census Bureau reported:

    Since the FY 2011 federal budget did not include the funding requested by the President for the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) initiative, the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics do not currently have the resources necessary to move the Supplemental Poverty Measure from research mode to production mode.

    The proposed measure would have resulted in a major reconstruction of the definition of poverty. According to Heritage’s Robert Rector, Obama’s poverty measure would include “new income thresholds” with “a built-in escalator clause” that “rise automatically in direct proportion to any rise in the living standards of the average American.” In other words, poverty would no longer be measured by how much income an individual or family made, but rather, how much an individual or family made relative to others.

    As Rector notes:

    …if the real income of every single American were to magically triple overnight, the new poverty measure would show there had been no drop in “poverty,” because the poverty income threshold would also triple. Under the Obama system, poverty can be reduced only if the incomes of the “poor” are rising faster than the incomes of everyone else.

    The only way to reduce so-called poverty in such a system: redistribution of wealth.

    Yet “spread-the-wealth” policies are nothing new. Since the 1960s, U.S. welfare spending has increased 13-fold and continues to climb.

    And the current living standards of “poverty”—as defined by the federal government’s own data—is already a far cry from what most people would consider “poor.” For example, government data reveals that the majority of poor households in the U.S. possess a significant number of amenities (refrigerators, microwaves, cable or satellite TV, DVD players, cell phones, air conditioning, etc.) and nearly all have enough to eat. Furthermore, the homes of the average poor family are in good repair and provide adequate space.

    Already, the government’s definition of poverty is skewed, yet President Obama’s poverty measure would further this misconception. And while his attempt to redefine poverty is off the table for the time being, the federal government says it plans to “continue…research efforts on this important topic.”

    Wise anti-poverty policy cannot be based on misinformation. Helping those who are truly in need requires a correct understanding of who these people are, as well as the causes of their deprivation. Obfuscating real poverty only sets the stage for fiscally irresponsible policies and does little to benefit the poor or the nation as a whole.

    Posted in Culture [slideshow_deploy]

    2 Responses to Obama’s New "Spread-the-Wealth" Poverty Measure Off the Table…For Now

    1. Bobbie says:

      "spread the wealth" doesn't make any sense at all, Mr. President. Your job should be to eliminate poverty not encourage people to feel inferior to their own abilities to get to where they can in life to substantiate their own lifestyles within their means! Or to influence jealousy and resentment of others who worked to earn their wealth or inherit from earned wealth who will it. This is America Mr. President! Why do you want to incur anger between Americans? why don't you get people on their own two feet so they can feel good about themselves instead of pity? Opportunities that can and will have to resurface!! "spread the wealth" is not a good spread for the table. Keep it off.

    2. john says:

      I dont think the wealth should generaly be spread but what i do think is that all us hard working americans should be able to make. A decent living. I dont the the corporate giants should be able to bully people in to horrible paying jobs . I think it should be ileagal for corporate giants to lay off thousands of americans to open up shop in a different country to save more money. i think every american should be entitled to a decent job. We need to be protected from unfair competition. If we had this i believe we would be ina better economic situation and it would be so hard to find a job… The jobs in this country are continuing to walk out of the country . This needs to aquire job standards to acheive living standards

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.

    ×