Report evaluates “War on Poverty” after 50 years

The House Budget Committee released a report, “The War on Poverty: 50 Years Later,” on Monday that concluded some federal programs designed to help low-income people are redundant or counterproductive.

House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said it’s time to measure progress in terms of what is helping people get out of poverty rather than how much money is spent.

“This report will help start the conversation,” Ryan said. “It shows that some programs work, others don’t. And for many of them, we just don’t know.”

In 2012, $799 billion was spent on 92 programs that help low-income individuals. Some programs provide critical aid to those in need, but other programs discourage people from getting ahead, according to the report.

“Clearly, we can do better,” Ryan said. “We can rework these federal programs and help families in need lead lives of dignity.”

Federal programs in 2012 allocated $220 billion in cash aid, $94.4 billion in education and job training, $3.9 billion in energy assistance, $105 billion in food aid, $49.6 billion in housing, $13 billion in social services and $21.8 billion in veterans’ assistance, according to the report.

The report comes 50 years after President Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty” proclamation was undertaken to inform the public debate on the federal government’s efforts.