[Hpn] Poverty Focus May Not Pay Off Politically

William C. Tinker wtinker@verizon.net
Sun, 22 Jul 2007 19:00:05 -0400


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Poverty Focus May Not Pay Off Politically=20
By Liz Halloran=20



Fri Jul 20, 2007=20

Nearly two years ago, as a shocked nation watched impoverished residents =
of New Orleans beg for help in Hurricane Katrina's wake, there were =
stirrings about the need for a new war on poverty.


Some harked back to President Lyndon Johnson's efforts, which began in =
1964 (when poverty rates hovered around 20 percent) and led to the =
creation of programs that included Head Start and Job Corps. The most =
recent statistics available from the U.S. Census Bureau show a steady =
creep in the nation's poverty rate--from 11.3 percent in 2000 to 12.6 =
percent in 2005. In 2000, 31.1 million Americans were living in poverty, =
according to the census. By 2005, that number had increased to 37 =
million. During that period, poor people living in suburbs began to =
outnumber those in urban areas, and poverty rates in metro areas in the =
Midwest and South climbed significantly, a recent Brookings Institution =
analysis showed.


But as the debacle of the Iraq war has dragged on, interest in a renewed =
war on poverty has flagged. And with recent polls showing that =
prospective voters rank the Iraq situation, terrorism, education, and =
healthcare as their top four issues in the coming presidential election, =
there aren't many political gurus telling candidates to make poverty a =
campaign centerpiece, as Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards =
has done.


The Iraq war is the Democrats' issue this election, says one top =
strategist, and while it's important to the liberal base that =
presidential candidates address the needs of the poor, it is not an =
issue that will resonate this time with much-needed middle-class voters, =
many of whom may equate a poverty war with welfare.


Both sides of that political coin have been on display in the =
presidential race this week. Sen. Barack Obama delivered his first major =
speech on poverty, touting to the party base--including the black =
community--his bona fides as a former community organizer in inner-city =
Chicago. In doing so, he stole some thunder from Edwards, who was =
wrapping up a three-day swing through poor areas and whose support has =
been flagging in Democratic presidential preference polls. In New =
Hampshire, Edwards fell from third--behind Sens. Hillary Clinton and =
Obama--to fourth, now also trailing New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.


But Edwards's strategists say that he will continue his poverty focus.


"John's going to keep talking about it through this campaign," said =
Deputy Campaign Manager Jonathan Prince. The campaign characterized the =
new poll as not reflective of where New Hampshire voters will be when =
the primary rolls around in January.


Alan Berube, who coauthored the Brookings analysis, said that to =
resonate with voters, candidates like Edwards and Obama need to widen =
the poverty discussion so that it reflects "anxieties facing a broader =
swath of the American workforce." The research he conducted with =
Elizabeth Kneebone showed that families in areas where there hasn't been =
chronic poverty are slipping into poverty because of lost jobs. =
Cleveland, Toledo, Detroit, and Columbus were among 10 cities with the =
largest increases in poverty rates.


"The challenge for candidates like Edwards and Obama," he said, "is to =
show how their policy ideas to help the poor are important for any =
family dealing with the vagaries of layoffs, declining pension coverage, =
and mounting health and education costs."


And while candidates grapple with how to frame domestic poverty issues, =
a well-financed organization calling itself ONE Vote '08 has launched a =
$30 million campaign to bring attention to global poverty. That group, =
which has received about $22 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates =
Foundation and support from U2's Bono, has targeted four early-primary =
states and is promoting the message that helping people in the poorest =
and most desperate places on Earth will ultimately enhance national =
security.


ONE Vote, which plans a $6 million targeted advertising campaign as part =
of its effort, will be asking candidates to sign a pledge endorsing the =
mission of promoting global health and reducing poverty. It's hard to =
imagine anyone opposing a reduction in poverty. But it's also hard to =
imagine politicians or voters turning their attention away from the =
carnage in Iraq.

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<DIV>Poverty Focus May Not Pay Off Politically <!-- END HEADLINE -->
<DIV id=3Dynmain><!-- BEGIN STORY BODY -->
<DIV id=3Dstorybody>
<DIV class=3Dstoryhdr>
<P><SPAN><FONT size=3D2>By Liz Halloran </FONT></SPAN></P>
<P><SPAN></SPAN>&nbsp;</P>
<P><SPAN></SPAN>Fri Jul 20,&nbsp;2007 </P>
<DIV class=3Dspacer></DIV></DIV>
<P>Nearly two years ago, as a shocked nation watched impoverished =
residents of=20
<SPAN id=3Dlw_1184954831_0=20
style=3D"CURSOR: hand; BORDER-BOTTOM: #0066cc 1px dashed">New =
Orleans</SPAN> beg=20
for help in Hurricane Katrina's wake, there were stirrings about the =
need for a=20
new war on poverty.</P>
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<P>Some harked back to President <SPAN id=3Dlw_1184954831_1=20
style=3D"CURSOR: hand; BORDER-BOTTOM: #0066cc 1px dashed">Lyndon =
Johnson</SPAN>'s=20
efforts, which began in 1964 (when poverty rates hovered around 20 =
percent) and=20
led to the creation of programs that included Head Start and Job Corps. =
The most=20
recent statistics available from the U.S. <SPAN id=3Dlw_1184954831_2=20
style=3D"CURSOR: hand; BORDER-BOTTOM: #0066cc 1px dashed">Census =
Bureau</SPAN>=20
show a steady creep in the nation's poverty rate--from 11.3 percent in =
2000 to=20
12.6 percent in 2005. In 2000, 31.1 million Americans were living in =
poverty,=20
according to the census. By 2005, that number had increased to 37 =
million.=20
During that period, poor people living in suburbs began to outnumber =
those in=20
urban areas, and poverty rates in metro areas in the <SPAN =
id=3Dlw_1184954831_3=20
style=3D"CURSOR: hand; BORDER-BOTTOM: #0066cc 1px dashed">Midwest</SPAN> =
and South=20
climbed significantly, a recent Brookings Institution analysis =
showed.</P>
<P></P>
<P>But as the debacle of the Iraq war has dragged on, interest in a =
renewed war=20
on poverty has flagged. And with recent polls showing that prospective =
voters=20
rank the Iraq situation, terrorism, education, and healthcare as their =
top four=20
issues in the coming presidential election, there aren't many political =
gurus=20
telling candidates to make poverty a campaign centerpiece, as Democratic =

presidential hopeful <SPAN id=3Dlw_1184954831_4=20
style=3D"CURSOR: hand; BORDER-BOTTOM: #0066cc 1px dashed">John =
Edwards</SPAN> has=20
done.</P>
<P></P>
<P>The Iraq war is the Democrats' issue this election, says one top =
strategist,=20
and while it's important to the liberal base that presidential =
candidates=20
address the needs of the poor, it is not an issue that will resonate =
this time=20
with much-needed middle-class voters, many of whom may equate a poverty =
war with=20
welfare.</P>
<P></P>
<P>Both sides of that political coin have been on display in the =
presidential=20
race this week. <SPAN id=3Dlw_1184954831_5=20
style=3D"CURSOR: hand; BORDER-BOTTOM: #0066cc 1px dashed">Sen. Barack =
Obama</SPAN>=20
delivered his first major speech on poverty, touting to the party=20
base--including the black community--his bona fides as a former =
community=20
organizer in inner-city Chicago. In doing so, he stole some thunder from =

Edwards, who was wrapping up a three-day swing through poor areas and =
whose=20
support has been flagging in Democratic presidential preference polls. =
In <SPAN=20
id=3Dlw_1184954831_6 style=3D"CURSOR: hand; BORDER-BOTTOM: #0066cc 1px =
dashed">New=20
Hampshire</SPAN>, Edwards fell from third--behind Sens. <SPAN =
id=3Dlw_1184954831_7=20
style=3D"CURSOR: hand; BORDER-BOTTOM: #0066cc 1px dashed">Hillary =
Clinton</SPAN>=20
and Obama--to fourth, now also trailing <SPAN id=3Dlw_1184954831_8=20
style=3D"CURSOR: hand; BORDER-BOTTOM: #0066cc 1px dashed">New =
Mexico</SPAN> Gov.=20
<SPAN id=3Dlw_1184954831_9=20
style=3D"CURSOR: hand; BORDER-BOTTOM: #0066cc 1px dashed">Bill=20
Richardson</SPAN>.</P>
<P></P>
<P>But Edwards's strategists say that he will continue his poverty =
focus.</P>
<P></P>
<P>"John's going to keep talking about it through this campaign," said =
Deputy=20
Campaign Manager Jonathan Prince. The campaign characterized the new =
poll as not=20
reflective of where New Hampshire voters will be when the primary rolls =
around=20
in January.</P>
<P></P>
<P>Alan Berube, who coauthored the Brookings analysis, said that to =
resonate=20
with voters, candidates like Edwards and Obama need to widen the poverty =

discussion so that it reflects "anxieties facing a broader swath of the =
American=20
workforce." The research he conducted with Elizabeth Kneebone showed =
that=20
families in areas where there hasn't been chronic poverty are slipping =
into=20
poverty because of lost jobs. <SPAN id=3Dlw_1184954831_10=20
style=3D"CURSOR: hand; BORDER-BOTTOM: #0066cc 1px =
dashed">Cleveland</SPAN>, <SPAN=20
id=3Dlw_1184954831_11=20
style=3D"CURSOR: hand; BORDER-BOTTOM: #0066cc 1px dashed">Toledo</SPAN>, =
<SPAN=20
id=3Dlw_1184954831_12=20
style=3D"CURSOR: hand; BORDER-BOTTOM: #0066cc 1px =
dashed">Detroit</SPAN>, and=20
<SPAN id=3Dlw_1184954831_13=20
style=3D"CURSOR: hand; BORDER-BOTTOM: #0066cc 1px =
dashed">Columbus</SPAN> were=20
among 10 cities with the largest increases in poverty rates.</P>
<P></P>
<P>"The challenge for candidates like Edwards and Obama," he said, "is =
to show=20
how their policy ideas to help the poor are important for any family =
dealing=20
with the vagaries of layoffs, declining pension coverage, and mounting =
health=20
and education costs."</P>
<P></P>
<P>And while candidates grapple with how to frame domestic poverty =
issues, a=20
well-financed organization calling itself ONE Vote '08 has launched a =
$30=20
million campaign to bring attention to global poverty. That group, which =
has=20
received about $22 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation =
and=20
support from U2's Bono, has targeted four early-primary states and is =
promoting=20
the message that helping people in the poorest and most desperate places =
on=20
Earth will ultimately enhance national security.</P>
<P></P>
<P>ONE Vote, which plans a $6 million targeted advertising campaign as =
part of=20
its effort, will be asking candidates to sign a pledge endorsing the =
mission of=20
promoting global health and reducing poverty. It's hard to imagine =
anyone=20
opposing a reduction in poverty. But it's also hard to imagine =
politicians or=20
voters turning their attention away from the carnage in <SPAN=20
id=3Dlw_1184954831_14=20
style=3D"BACKGROUND: #dceeff; CURSOR: hand; BORDER-BOTTOM: #0066cc 1px =
dashed">Iraq</SPAN>.</P></DIV></DIV></DIV></BODY></HTML>

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