War on Poverty: 50 Years Later


 Photo by Bruce Thomson on Flickr Creative Commons

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty, declared by President Lyndon B. Johnson during his 1964 State of the Union address. Johnson's “unconditional war on poverty” renewed the national commitment to fighting poverty through targeted federal programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, Head Start, Pell Grants, expansions to Social Security, and nutrition assistance.

National Priorities Project has a wealth of resources that illustrate how these federal programs are faring, 50 years after the start of the War on Poverty.

The Cost of National Security site shows the real-time cost of traditional "national security" programs-- war, Pentagon, homeland security, etc-- and juxtaposes them against the cost of human security programs including nutrition assistance, housing assistance, and Medicaid/CHIP, among others.

Federal Spending in Your State, 2012-2014 shows estimated state-by-state funding and percentage cuts for a host of key programs including TANF, LIHEAP, Head Start, School Breakfast and Lunch programs, Social Services Block Grant, and many others. (Numbers do not reflect the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013)

Trade-Offs allows you to pull customized numbers for your state, city, town, or congressional district to show how much of your federal income tax dollars currently fund military programs, and what else those tax dollars could buy-- including Pell grants, Head Start slots, health insurance, and elementary school teachers.

The personalized Tax Receipt shows how much of your own tax dollars fund WIC, Medicaid, the Child Care and Development Block Grant, as well as education and rehabilitation for veterans.

The Federal Priorities Database shows how the federal government spends money on a variety of programs-- from food and housing to education and healthcare-- by state, county, and city. You can also see corresponding social indicators-- such as health insurance coverage, poverty rates, and school district stats-- that illustrate the impact of those dollars.


For a human perspective on the programs Johnson's War on Poverty set out to strengthen, visit Faces of the Federal Budget, where Americans have shared their personal experiences with Social Security, Medicaid, SNAP, and more.