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Health and Medicine


Ohio's Senators weigh in on "The War On Poverty"
Portman, Brown differ on how to attack the problem
Story by LEWIS WALLACE


 
In The Region:
This last week, we’ve been revisiting the War on Poverty launched by President Lyndon Johnson in 1964. In fifty years, the poverty rate in the U.S. has fallen from about 25 percent to 16 percent, or one in six. But as Lewis Wallace reports from Ohio Public Radio station WYSO, a debate over how to fight that war is alive and well in Ohio.
You know the score: Democrats credit programs like Social Security and food stamps with reducing the numbers of people barely scraping by.
Ohio’s U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown says Republicans have chipped away at the War on Poverty.

"When I see so many of my colleagues so vehemently opposed to the minimum wage and so recalcitrant in their willingness to extend unemployment benefits and this mission in the house…to cut $40 billion from food stamps, it’s hard to think that this War on Poverty is being fought now. We’ve gotta do better than this."

Republican critics over the years have said those very programs just don’t work to fight poverty.
Ohio’s Republican Senator Rob Portman calls for reform, rather than expansion of aid.

"I think part of what happened frankly is that while some of those initial programs were very important and continue to be, they haven’t been reformed and updated to deal with today’s problems. How do you get people the skills they need to compete in the global marketplace."

All of which is relevant to what’s going on in Washington this week: partisan haggling is expected over emergency unemployment and the neglected Farm Bill—which includes food aid for low-income families.
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