AFSCME Celebrates 50th Anniversary of “War on Poverty”

by Pablo Ros  |  January 08, 2014

AFSCME Celebrates 50th Anniversary of “War on Poverty” President Lyndon Johnson visits Tom Fletcher in Martin County, KY. April 1964.

Today, AFSCME celebrates the 50th anniversary of Pres. Lyndon Johnson’s declaration of the “War on Poverty” that inspired the creation of Medicare and Medicaid, food stamps (SNAP), subsidized child care, Head Start, housing assistance, and many other programs that continue to help America’s seniors and low-income families.

AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders praised AFSCME members for the work they do that contributes to the effectiveness of these programs.

“Every day, AFSCME members work to maximize the effectiveness of anti-poverty programs,” he said. “Our members determine eligibility for social insurance and anti-poverty programs, and provide child care and home care services for the elderly and persons with disabilities.”

At a time of rising income inequality in our nation, it is important to reflect on the poverty-reduction benefits of these safety net programs and on ways we must strengthen them for future generations. Since mid-2009, 95 percent of all increased income in the U.S. was sucked up by the wealthiest 1 percent, even as today Congress continues to deny jobless benefits to the long-term unemployed, who rely on them to survive.

“Worsening income inequality is threatening the very existence of the middle class,” Saunders said. “To protect and grow the middle class, we must remove impediments to union organizing for public and private sector workers. Congress must pass legislation that will create jobs. We must increase the federal minimum wage so jobs pay enough to lift families out of poverty. And wealthy individuals and corporations must pay their fair share in taxes to fund job growth and other initiatives that will rebuild the middle class.”

Join us in celebrating the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty by telling us your stories here. Tell us how as an AFSCME member you work to help families make ends meet, and how you and your family may have benefitted from safety net programs.

The War on Poverty is far from over. Today, AFSCME renews its commitment to protect the safety net programs that benefitted so many working families in the past 50 years and to strengthen them for future generations.

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