With Poverty on the Rise, NBC Urges More Welfare Spending; No Blame for Obama

On Friday's NBC Today, correspondent Tom Costello described how "Nearly one in six Americans is living in poverty. 16 million are children. That's 3 million more than three years ago." However, nowhere in his report on the growing problem did he mention the Obama administration's failed economic policies as a cause.

Instead, Costello lamented over possible cuts to government welfare programs: "It was 50 years ago that Sergeant Shriver led President Johnson's war on poverty. Today his son, Mark, runs Save the Children in the U.S....[and] fears that programs like Head Start, which serve poor children, might face cuts in the next round of congressional budget cuts, just as more and more families find themselves struggling to put food on the table."

While Costello fretted over "congressional budget cuts," a not-so-veiled reference to Republicans, on Thursday's Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams focused on how "A lot of African-Americans in this country are getting flat out crushed in this economy," while the "DC debate is often admittedly about tax cuts for the wealthy."

Here is a full transcript of Costello's September 16 segment:

7:16AM ET

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: This week the Census Bureau released some disturbing numbers showing that poverty in America is at it's highest level since 1993. Now the group Save the Children is raising the red flag about the number of poor children in this country. NBC's Tom Costello is in our Washington D.C. newsroom with the latest. Tom, good morning to you.

TOM COSTELLO: Hi, Savannah. Nearly one in six Americans is living in poverty. 16 million are children. That's 3 million more than three years ago. It crosses every state line, every ethnic line. From the deserts of California to the streets of DC, poverty is rarely far away in America.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Save the Children; Poverty Rates in the U.S. On the Rise]

COSTELLO: Brenda Weaver never thought she'd be poor, but after her daughter died from an asthma attack she and her husband were left to raise three grand kids.

WEAVER: Don't want to be dependent on people because I've always worked and – since I was 15.

COSTELLO: In Yucca Valley, California, Bonnie Hughes lost her teaching job just as Matthew's hours were cut back. Now they're losing their home, their car, their insurance, and struggling to feed their three kids.

BONNIE HUGHES: We got to feed the kids. We got to pay the bills. What is more important? Bill collectors were calling.


COSTELLO: The Hughes and Weavers are hardly alone. This week the Census Bureau reported that 46.2 million Americans lived below the poverty line last year. That's $23,314 for a family of four. 22% of children are now living in poverty, 22%. Among Hispanic kids it's 37%. And 40% of African-American children are living in poverty.

SARGENT SHRIVER: Our nation has aroused the hopes of the poor.

COSTELLO: It was 50 years ago that Sergeant Shriver led President Johnson's war on poverty. Today his son, Mark, runs Save the Children in the U.S.

MARK SHRIVER: It means not having enough food to eat every week. It means going to food pantries, it means going to the church and begging for food at times.

HUGHES: We made $42 too much to get on food stamps.

COSTELLO: For the Hughes and the Weavers:

WEAVER: With everything happening, the wash machine broke and the roof needed to be fixed.

COSTELLO: And another 46 million Americans, many with children, it is life on the edge.

WEAVER: Sometimes you got to do what you got to do.

SHRIVER: Those kids can be raised out of poverty if we had a national commitment to do it.

COSTELLO: Mark Shriver fears that programs like Head Start, which serve poor children, might face cuts in the next round of congressional budget cuts, just as more and more families find themselves struggling to put food on the table. Savannah.

GUTHRIE: Alright. Tom Costello in Washington, thank you.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC