The Poor Are Not REALLY Poor!

Judy Olsen (
Tue, 16 Mar 1999 18:27:53 -0800

> Thought you all might "enjoy" this newspaper article.

Judy O

> >
> >          For Release: Wednesday, March 17, 1999
> >
> >
> >        The Heritage Foundation is one of our country's most influential
> >and oft-quoted think tanks. But its claims often seem to be based more on
> >ideology than solid research.
> >
> >U.S. POOR NOT REALLY POOR: Heritage Foundation poverty analyst Robert
> >Rector has issued widely trumpeted reports arguing that the poor aren't
> >so poor -- for instance, "The Myth of Widespread American Poverty"
> >(1998). The reports contain false and misleading claims. Purporting to
> >show that poor Americans rarely go hungry, Heritage relies on an outmoded
> >1991 Health and Human Services nutrition survey that understates the
> >problem, while ignoring the more recent and complete Census Bureau survey
> >that replaced it. Rector claims that "poor Americans live in larger
> >houses or apartments" than "the general population in Western Europe,"
> >but the supporting chart compares floor space per person in European
> >cities like Paris and Athens to that of all poor U.S. households. Most of
> >America's poor live in rural or suburban areas. Heritage's main point --
> >that "there is a huge gap between the `poor' as defined by the Census
> >Bureau and what most ordinary Americans consider to be poverty" -- is
> >dubious. Polls consistently show that Americans would put the poverty
> >line higher than its current level.
> >     * Contact: Seth Ackerman, "The Ever-Present Yet Nonexistent Poor,"
> >Extra! (1-2/99),,
> >; Katha Pollitt, "Poverty: Fudging the Numbers," The
> >Nation (11/2/98),
> >
> >BOGUS SOCIAL SECURITY FIGURES: In its advocacy of privatization, Heritage
> >published "research" last year claiming to show that Social Security is
> >bad for blacks and Latinos and that many African-Americans pay more into
> >the system than they receive in benefits. Citing methodological errors,
> >Steve Goss, Deputy Chief Actuary of the Social Security Administration,
> >rebutted Heritage in a memo (2/4/99) which concluded that "the non-white
> >population actually enjoys the same or better expected rates of return
> >from Social Security." The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities issued
> >a report by senior analyst Kilolo Kijakazi on Heritage's incorrect
> >methodology and assumptions, with the Goss memo appended.
> >     * Contact: Kilolo Kijakazi at CBPP, Her report is
> >at See also Business Week,
> >"Red-Faced Over Social Security: A Conservative Think Tank's Boo-Boo,"
> >12/14/98.
> >
> >MISLEADING "WELFARE" FIGURE: In January 1995, Heritage's Robert Rector
> >claimed in congressional testimony that "the U.S. has spent over $5.3
> >trillion on welfare...since the onset of the War on Poverty" without
> >decreasing poverty. But Heritage's often-cited "welfare" figure --
> >further inflated in recent years -- is highly misleading. As the Center
> >on Budget and Policy Priorities has documented, 70 percent of the federal
> >spending Heritage classified as "welfare" went to households that did not
> >receive Aid to Families with Dependent Children, the core welfare program
> >during the 30-year period. Most went to non-AFDC households with elderly,
> >disabled or "medically needy" individuals, as well as low-income workers
> >-- not the jobless poor typically associated with "welfare."
> >     * See "How Much Do We Spend on Welfare?" by Sharon Parrott (Center
> >on Budget and Policy Priorities, publication #95-032). To acquire the
> >report, contact CBPP, (202) 408-1080.
> >
> >For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
> >Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167
> >
> >