Special to the Journal
Washington, D.C. – Today, on the 50th Anniversary of the commencement of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty, Congressman Sanford D. Bishop (GA-02) submitted a statement to the U.S. House of Representatives regarding the issue of poverty in America today. Below is the full text of Congressman Bishop’s statement:
“On this day in 1964, President Johnson called on our nation to launch an ‘unconditional war on poverty’. Exactly 50 years later, we can state with confidence two truths.
One, programs resulting from Johnson’s War on Poverty have improved the lives of Americas of all ages in innumerable ways.
Two, the war on poverty has not been won.
I submit that now is NOT the time to end our battle.
Today, there are nearly 50 million Americans grappling with the economic and social hardships of living below the poverty line, including 13.4 million children.
In my district in Southwest Georgia alone, more than one in four people and almost one of every two children fall below the poverty line.
And yet without programs such as unemployment insurance, Rural Tax Credits, school lunch programs, affordable housing, Medicare, Medicaid, Job Corps, SNAP, TRIO, and others, where would we be?
In Georgia alone:
Over 29,000 children from low-income families would be without critical early stage developmental resources provided by Head Start and Early Head Start.
Over 1.8 million low-income individuals and families would lose the ability to choose healthy food options through SNAP for themselves and their children.
And so on.
America’s War on Poverty has gone beyond just helping reduce our poverty rate. It has educated, fed, housed, and trained millions of Americans, giving them hope and preparing them for a more successful tomorrow.
By many estimates, the reduction in poverty has drastically improved the quality of life for many Americans over the past 50 years.
Lastly, and most importantly, we must remember that the label ‘poor’ means more than a cold numeric value attributed to one’s earning potential. We must remember that America’s poor have a face. That face exists today!
They are the homeless, freezing in the cold, because their job does not pay enough to cover the rent or because they have no job. They are children who cannot concentrate at school because hunger fills their daytime thoughts. They are uninsured Americans who, before the passage of the Affordable Care Act, could not afford quality health insurance.
They are hard working Americans just striving to make ends meet and, like the majority of us, gripped with the goal of creating a better life for themselves and loved ones.
We cannot turn our back on them now.
We must continue to fight the war on poverty—and we must win!
We must rededicate ourselves to the values that Lyndon Johnson lifted up 50 years ago; values that set a moral standard for America and for which we still must strive, values that were given to us over 2000 years ago by Jesus in the parable of the Sheep and the Goats found in the 25th Chapter of Matthew:
‘For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.….Truly, I tell you whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
President Johnson took that to heart 50 years ago. And we today must do the same.”