The number of poor Americans is at its highest level since the 1960s. More people are on welfare than in the last five decades. At the same time, America is experiencing austerity, otherwise known as sequestration to address the national deficit.
Cuts from sequestration are projected to affect 50 million people living below the poverty line and will reduce their chance of finding work.
Support services for the poor will lose a good deal of funding under the American version of austerity as billions in federal government spending cuts will make it difficult for support services to make ends meet delaying recovery from the economic downturn.
In the 1960s, it was Lyndon B. Johnson who launched the federal welfare program dubbed the “War on Poverty.” But now at the beginning of President Obama’s second term, there are 50 million people (a little less than 1/6 of the population), and those numbers will grow especially under the new cuts. The legal definition of poverty is an income of less than $23,021 USD for a family of four. Official numbers claim that 20 per cent of the country’s children are in poverty.
There is no question the national belt-tightening “will deepen and increase poverty,” said William McCarthy, executive director of Catholic Charities. The cuts affect long-term care of the elderly, education, housing, food, transportation and medical services. The gap between the rich and poor is sure to widen.
Even if the economy improves, these services will not keep pace. And with more cuts coming, it appears that services will have to be cut even further. The hardest hit will be those who are not directly tied to the economy.
While the U.S. Congress battles out opposing philosophies concerning the economy, the sequestrations are tightening the belt on the whole nation. This is turn increases poverty and crime, and extending the recession.
“There are not many, even among educators and statesmen, who comprehend the causes that underlie the present state of society. Those who hold the reins of government are not able to solve the problem of moral corruption, poverty, pauperism, and increasing crime. They are struggling in vain to place business operations on a more secure basis. If men would give more heed to the teaching of God’s word, they would find a solution of the problems that perplex them.” Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 9, page 13