Tyler, TX (KETK) — In 1964 President Lyndon Johnson delivered a speech stating, "This administration today, here and now, declares unconditional war on poverty in America". 50 years and $20 trillion later, this war is still being fought.
This speech was delivered in the midst Vietnam war, and gave rise to many of the federal anti-poverty programs we use today. During this time the U.S. poverty rate was at 17.3 percent. Now in 2014, the U.S. is at 15 percent. The current poverty rate has remained at this rate for the last three years. Before the recession in 2007, the poverty level was at 12.5 percent. The federal government defines "poverty" as an annual income of $23,492 for a family of four.
Supporters of President Johnson say it was his goal to make Americans prosperous and self-sufficient. This same group believes President Obama's current policies on poverty just hand people freebies.
According to the U.S. census, the most recent Tyler poverty levels are higher than the national average, at 23.8 percent. So KETK spoke with Chantel Millin, spokesperson for the Salvation Army, who witnesses poverty on a daily basis. She shared, "The thing that's most important to us is that regardless of it's donations, or federal help, the people who need us can count on us to be there".
Luckily the Salvation Army says all of its needs have been met thanks to the support of the Smith County community, but is there more the President can be doing?