Debunked: Leftist claim that U.S. doesn't combat child poverty

Monday, November 25, 2019
Michael F. Haverluck (

Bernie Sanders speaking at podium

After years of Democrats, the mainstream media and other progressives claiming that America doesn't fund the fight to end childhood poverty – especially when compared to other nations – a recent study has debunked the contention, showing that the United States is winning the battle.

In fact, the latest research conducted by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) reports that progressives' representation of child poverty in the U.S. grossly overstates the reality, revealing that child poverty in America has actually decreased 67 percent over the past three decades – since 1980.

Exaggerating poverty to get more funding?

In recent years, the left has argued that Americans haven't done their part to combat poverty for children. "The U.S. spends less on children than almost any other developed nation," the Washington Post contended in October 2018. AEI, however, revealed that this claim was anything but accurate.

In addition, the only self-proclaimed socialist in the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee ticket, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), made a similar contention. "The U.S. has the highest child poverty rate of almost any country on Earth," Sanders proclaimed earlier this month, according to RealClearPolicy.

It was revealed in the AEI study that the aforementioned statement made by the senator – who is backed by fellow socialist, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) – was far from the truth.

The so-called "moderate" among the remaining Democratic presidential candidates, Sen. Corry Booker (D-N.J.), also attempted to play up the unsubstantiated – and now debunked – claim that the U.S. is a leader in child poverty amongst rival nations.

"[The U.S. has] the moral obscenity of having the highest levels of child poverty in the industrialized world," Booker asserted in a tweet last month.

Wait a second here …

The latest figures, however, indicate the exact opposite of what Democrats and other leftists argue regarding the state of child poverty in the U.S., as AEI found that anti-poverty spending in America has "dramatically increased" over the decades.

"Child poverty rates in the U.S. are at historically low levels, and similar to other countries such as the United Kingdom, Ireland and Canada," AEI research fellow on poverty studies Angela Rachidi divulged from the study.

Everything the left has been claiming about the dearth of government funding to counter child poverty appears to have been based more on a big-government agenda than on the facts, according to the AEI report.

"The findings of her [Rachidi's] report challenge the left's false claim that America lacks effective anti-poverty programs for children," TheBlaze reported. "In fact, the poverty expert noted that spending on social programs designed to help needy children has skyrocketed over the past few decades."

A monumental spike in programs helping the poor over the past half century is rarely, if ever mentioned by today's Democrats.

"These spending increases have especially targeted three key areas of support – health, refundable tax credits and nutrition support – through means-tested programs," TheBlaze's Giancarlo Sopo pointed out. "Federal spending on health, nutrition and refundable tax credits for low-income children was almost nonexistent in 1960, but has since increased 17-fold, surpassing all other categories by 2018 – with the exception of tax reductions stemming from the dependent deduction."

The inaccurate – if not deceptive – assertion that the U.S. trails most other nations in providing for its poor was readily refuted by Rachidi and her research.

"International comparisons that consider the full range of child spending show that the U.S. spends as much – if not more – per child than other countries such as Belgium, Germany, Canada, France and the United Kingdom," Sopo gleaned from the study. "As a percentage of GDP, the U.S. spends more on children than Germany, Australia, Canada and the Netherlands."

The increase of anti-poverty spending in America was also highlighted by AEI, leading to a decrease in the number of poverty-stricken youth in the U.S.

"Properly accounting for social spending to combat childhood poverty demonstrates that there has been a reduction of 67 percent in children living under the poverty line over the last 39 years," Sopo recounted. "In 1980, 32.9 percent of children were considered poor, [and] this figure has been reduced to 10.8 percent as of 2018, according to a poverty measure based on consumption."

Inaccurate government reports on child poverty were also noted.

"Federal government statistics that pin child poverty at 16.2 percent, but … the Census' official poverty measure has 'well-documented flaws,' according to researchers," TheBlaze recalled from its previous reports. "Among its most notable problems is that government's poverty rate 'is based on cash income only,' which fails to capture many non-cash social resources made available to families in need – such as food stamps and housing vouchers."

Child poverty in the U.S. has dropped not just because of government assistance, but due to programs that help Americans become more independent and back to work.

"However, our success in the battle against child poverty cannot be attributed solely to an increase in federal dollars going toward this cause," Rachidi explained. "Policies that support work, family and strong communities also play a crucial role."


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