Al Sharpton Denies Existence of Federal Programs to Aid the Poor

In other news, Al Sharpton rejected criticism that he makes his living as a race-baiting grievance-monger. Suffice it to say, uncomfortable truths do not sit well with this man.

Responding to Mitt Romney saying he's "not concerned about the very poor" because of the decades-old government safety net, Sharpton swung into action on his radio show with a claim that is delusional even by Sharpton's expansive standards (audio clip after page break) --

 

The statement by Mitt Romney today, he's trying to walk it back saying that he wasn't concerned with the poor, concerned with the middle class, that he's trying to clarify it but even in his clarity I think he exposes to many the misconceptions. He said, well, there are programs for the poor, I meant my focus.

What programs for the poor? They [Republicans] keep acting as if poor people have all of these things that are helping them.

This from a man with the ear of the president, which should be surprising but, sadly, isn't.

A person tossing out such a whopper is not just engaging in magical thinking more often seen in children. He is locked in the infantile philosophy known as liberalism.

For example, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a lefty think-tank cited so often on MSNBC that they're a member of the family, posted an article last April titled "Policy Basics: Where Do Our Federal Tax Dollars Go?," that does a nifty job of demolishing Sharpton's claim --

Safety net programs: About 14 percent of the federal budget in 2010, or $496 billion, went to support programs that provide aid (other than health insurance or Social Security benefits) to individuals and families facing hardships.

These programs include: the refundable portion of the earned-income and child tax credits, which assist low- and moderate-income working families through the tax code; programs that provide cash payments to eligible individuals and households, including Supplemental Security income for the elderly or disabled poor and unemployment insurance; various forms of in-kind assistance for low-income families and individuals, including food stamps, school meals, low-income housing assistance, child-care assistance, and assistance in meeting home energy bills; and various other programs such as those that aid abused and neglected children.

According to FederalSafetyNet.com, federal spending to alleviate poverty has soared in the last 50 years, from $445 per person in 1960 to $7,741 per person in 2010 through a dozen federal programs. "Yet despite the increase in spending," the site points out, "the poverty level has remained fairly constant at between 12-15 percent of the population. While we have spent more and more money we have not lessened the number of people in poverty. Why? The reason is because our system is poorly designed. It doesn't have "conditions" attached to it, it "doesn't make work pay" and it lessens responsibility of participants."

An article from last May by the Heritage Foundation's Brian Riedl, "Myths of Tax Cuts for Rich, Spending Cuts for Poor," also demonstrates the lunacy of Sharpton's claim --

According to the White House's Office of Management and Budget, federal anti-poverty spending has soared from $190 billion in 1990 to $348 billion in 2000, and to a staggering $638 billion this year (all adjusted for inflation). The growth since 2000 has been particularly remarkable in the Children's Health Insurance Program (470 percent), food stamps (229 percent), energy assistance (163 percent), child care assistance (89 percent) and Medicaid (80 percent)

These expansions have been bipartisan: Mr. Bush -- unfairly derided as bad for poor people -- became the first president to spend more than 3 percent of the nation's income on anti-poverty programs. President Obama then pushed it above 4 percent. In fact, since 1990, anti-poverty spending as a share of national income has expanded as fast as Social Security, Medicare, defense and education -- combined.

In answer to Sharpton's question, "What programs for the poor?," a one-word answer comes to mind -- those. No matter. He'd rather you believe him than your lying eyes.

(h/t, Brian Maloney at Radio Equalizer)

Jack Coleman
Jack Coleman
Ex-liberal from People's Republic of Massachusetts