In the midst of the fight to pass health care reform and push through a jobs bill, the Obama administration took time this month to introduce a new measurement of poverty – the “supplemental poverty measurement.”
This measurement will redefine the poverty level by “supplementing,” and perhaps eventually replacing, the data that has been used to measure poverty for over 50 years.
No longer will poverty be defined solely by the cost of food and a family’s income. The new definition will take into consideration costs for child care, utilities and medical expenses “plus a little more.”
Using data collected from sources such as the American Community Survey, demographers will determine how much American families spend on a set of defined items. The poverty level will be set at the 33rd percentile of distribution of this data set. Those unable to meet or exceed that level of spending will be considered impoverished.
When this measure is implemented, poverty will no longer be an absolute definition based on income versus outlays, it will become a relative measurement. No matter how high wages rise or how much purchasing power increases, a segment of the population will always be considered “poor” and ultimately eligible for some form of government subsidies as the more affluent part of the population is forced to “spread the wealth.”
The timing of the announcement is interesting and raises an important question: cui bono?
The most obvious beneficiaries are those who will be defined as poor – not right away mind you, but later according to Vanessa Wight, a demographer at the National Center for Children in Poverty. Wight said the new measurement would more accurately reflect what it takes to live in America.
“This is just a first step,” Wight said. “The new poverty measure will not affect how eligibility for funds are determined. That’s the next step, the direction we need to be moving.”
For now, entitlement benefits will continue to be calculated based on the current definition of poverty.
Who else benefits from redefining poverty? President Barack Hussein Obama.
Under the President’s proposed health care reform legislation, government subsidies for health insurance premiums will be calculated based on the poverty level. By redefining poverty, he can assure an increased number of people that they will be eligible for subsidies which can be used to pay the premiums for his government mandated health care.
Proponents of big government will also benefit. By increasing the number of Americans defined as poor, power-hungry Democrats and Republicans can create an even bigger government machine by expanding social security, Medicare and other entitlement rolls. As a bonus, these politicians will have added job security as people receiving these benefits will continue to vote for the politician that makes their monthly government check possible.
So who stands to lose in all of this? Those above the poverty level who will inevitably be forced to shoulder the burden of higher taxes in order to subsidize those below the new poverty level.
By designing a system in which a group of people will always be defined as poor because they do not enjoy the same wealth as others, the President now has a means to accomplish a goal expressed in his infamous campaign remarks to Joe “the Plumber” Wurzelbacher: “I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody."
I wonder if the American voters will agree in November 2012.
Kristi Reed is a reporter for the Barrow Journal. She can be reached at email@example.com.
At what point does this country end up having more people with their hands out, (because they nave been, told you cannot make it in this unfair country), then the amount of people who have to dig deeper and deeper in their pockets.
America has been fighting the war on poverty, all the way back to FDR's days in the White House, with just about the same % of people in poverty.
If they grabed up all the monies in America, tommorrow, and gave an equal amount out to every person in America, I believe inside of 5 years the same people who, were in poverty, before the grabup, would be right back in the same place, with some exceptions, I'm sure. It has a lot to do with personel choices.
It's not a secret for anybody the fact that in the whole world poverty is something to stay forever. The cause is only one in each ca se . Laws do not apply equally for everyone . We all need to stop it and close the gap .
, once and forever .