Spotlight Exclusives

Event: The Legacies of the War on Poverty

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Fifty years ago this January, President Lyndon Johnson unveiled the War on Poverty in his State of the Union address. On January 8th, the exact anniversary of the speech, thought leaders will gather in Washington, D.C. for a forum on this historic set of policies. The event is hosted by the National Poverty Center at the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, the Russell Sage Foundation, and Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity.

While a half-century has passed, many ideas from this era remain at the heart of our political discussions. In a speech last week, President Obama paid tribute to the War on Poverty and other reforms that helped “provide a ladder of opportunity and stretched out a safety net beneath so that if we fell, it wouldn۪t be too far and we could bounce back.” In contrast, in a July interview Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) declared that the War on Poverty “failed miserably” and that it was time for a drastically different approach.

These aren۪t abstract disputes. The future of War on Poverty-era programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Head Start are the subject of heated political debates and budgetary negotiations. Our perceptions of these policies and the lessons we draw from them inevitably inform how we respond to the continued challenges facing at-risk Americans.

The January event is based on the book Legacies of the War on Poverty. The book draws on new research to offer a nuanced analysis of the War on Poverty, arguing that results may have been more positive than is commonly assumed.

The book۪s editors, Martha J. Bailey and Sheldon Danziger, will participate in a panel featuring contributors from across the political spectrum and moderated by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and Chicago Tribune editorial board member Clarence Page. Additional panelists include Kevin Hassett from the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and Jocelyn Frye from the Center for American Progress (CAP). The discussion will focus on the efficacy of various War on Poverty programs and what they tell us about current and future efforts to combat poverty and promote opportunity.

The event runs from 9:00 – 11:00 a.m. EST and will take place at the Pew Charitable Trusts in Washington, D.C. For those in the area, the waitlist for in-person tickets is available here, as we۪ve already reached event capacity. An alternative way to attend is through the live stream sign up and make sure to share the link with your friends and coworkers. You can also follow @povertynews and the #TalkPoverty hashtag on Twitter to participate leading up to and during the event.

Posted by Sarah

Here at Out of the Spotlight, we offer a behind-the-scenes look at the latest news and information essential to anyone working to fight poverty. From key political appointees to clashes over policy, we cover the news that doesn’t always make the evening news. Check out Out of the Spotlight for our take on the twists and turns of the latest political developments and their impact on poverty reduction. Topics and ideas are welcome! Just contact or

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