LBJ and Obama: Champions of Abject Poverty - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
LBJ and Obama: Champions of Abject Poverty

Lyndon Johnson was adamant. The Great Society would cure poverty. In a 1964 campaign stop in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania he said this: 

So here’s the Great Society. It’s the time — and it’s going to be soon — when nobody in this country is poor. It’s the time — and there’s no point in in waiting — when every boy or girl can have all the education that boy or girl can put to good use. It’s the time when there is a job for everybody who wants to work. It’s the time when every slum is gone from every city in America, and America is beautiful. It’s the time when man gains full domination under God over his own destiny. It’s the time of peace on earth and goodwill among men. 

Then there was this from Barack Obama when accepting his presidential nomination in 2008:

I face this challenge with profound humility, and knowledge of my own limitations. But I also face it with limitless faith in the capacity of the American people. Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth. 

Note: There was no blaming of Fox News in that Obama speech. That would come later.

So. How has all of this worked out? 

In late April of this year over there at the far-left Salon there was a very curious piece featuring Baltimore City Councilman Nick Mosby, the husband of the State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby who is famously prosecuting the police she has accused in the Freddie Gray case. Salon headlined Councilman Mosby’s complaints to MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow as follows:

Baltimore councilman tells Maddow: Violent protesters are “children crying out from abject poverty” who have lost hope

The story says, in part, this:

Rachel Maddow spoke to Baltimore City Councilman Nick Mosby last night about Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s statement that those responsible for the lawlessness in the city the past two nights don’t actually belong to the community, but are ‘taking advantage’ of the situation.

Councilman Mosby said that he doesn’t approve of or condone the actions of these individuals, “but a lot of these young folks feel completely disenfranchised, completely disconnected, and 95 percent of the protests have been positive and productive.”

“But unfortunately, we have seen some violent acts,” he added. He explained, however, that “it’s really the children crying out from abject poverty, from areas that haven’t gotten the type of representation” they deserve as citizens. “They basically feel hopeless,” he explained, so they joined the movement after Ferguson.

“Unfortunately, this is their voice — the voice is destruction, the voice is anger.”

Hmmmm. Got all that? In spite of those assurances from LBJ a full fifty-one years ago, and from President Obama almost a full seven years ago? Not to mention the intervening Carter and Clinton presidencies filled with like-minded liberals? 

There is Baltimore’s Councilman Mosby complaining to the leftward Ms. Maddow and being sympathetically headlined by the far-left Salon that, well, darn it! There is “abject poverty” in Baltimore. And the violence also comes about because of “the failures of the public education system in Baltimore.”

Amazing. In essence Councilman Mosby is saying the Johnson and Obama presidencies were not the triumph of the Left that both LBJ and President Obama assured was on its way. It’s “the time” predicted LBJ in 1964. “This was the moment” predicted Obama in 2008.

Alas. As it turned out — not so. 

Are Republican presidential candidates paying attention to all of this? Those two snapshots into the thinking — the rationale — behind the American Left, compared to the results that Baltimore’s Councilman Mosby is saying has resulted? With Mosby but the latest Democrat to have his hands on the city’s tiller in five-plus decades of solid liberal Democrat rule?

The Washington Free Beacon reported after the Baltimore riots this headline: 

Baltimore Received $1.8 Billion from Obama’s Stimulus Law: City burned despite ‘massive investment’ implemented by president

The Free Beacon detailed as follows:

However, a Washington Free Beacon analysis found that the Obama administration and Democratically-controlled Congress did make a “massive” investment into Baltimore, appropriating $1,831,768,487 though the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), commonly known as the stimulus.

According to, one of Baltimore’s central ZIP codes, 21201, received the most stimulus funding in the city, a total of $837,955,866. The amount included funding for 276 awards, and the website reports that the spending had created 290 jobs in the fourth quarter in 2013.

Of this amount, $467.1 million went to education; $206.1 million to the environment; $24 million to “family”; $16.1 million to infrastructure; $15.2 million to transportation; $11.9 million to housing; and $3.1 million to job training.

ZIP code 21202 received $425,170,937, including a $136 million grant to “improve teaching and learning for students most at risk of failing to meet State academic achievement standards.”

Twenty-nine other ZIP codes listed in Baltimore city received a total of $568,641,684.

So in other words? Here we have three generation of liberal politicians — and the youngest, Councilman Mosby, is saying without saying so that the policies of the other two — LBJ and Obama — have failed.

“Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society effort was built on an invigorating, exciting, but nonetheless erroneous, idea that government sharing can end poverty and urban squalor by taxing away resources from the ‘haves’ and giving them to the ‘have nots,’” wrote then-Republican Congressman Jack Kemp in 1979 in his classic book An American Renaissance. Say again, that was 1979.

Jack Kemp was right. LBJ — and Barack Obama — were wrong. While LBJ isn’t around to admit his failures, President Obama is not only here he has found a convenient scapegoat for his own failures: Fox News. Really. One can only imagine if Fox News were around in 1964.

But if you need any further evidence of the LBJ/Obama failures — the failures of liberalism — just listen to the liberal Baltimore Councilman Mosby who insists without putting it this way that after all those LBJ Great Society trillions — $22 trillion to be specific — and that Barack Obama “stimulus” of some $1.8 billion for Baltimore specifically that Baltimore is brimming with “abject poverty” and the “failures of the public education” system of the city.

When will this end? No time soon. But it would be a good start when Republicans running for president head into the “inner city” not just of Baltimore but every major urban area in America and directly confront the failures of the LBJ and Obama eras head on.

Jeffrey Lord
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Jeffrey Lord, a contributing editor to The American Spectator, is a former aide to Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp. An author and former CNN commentator, he writes from Pennsylvania at His new book, Swamp Wars: Donald Trump and The New American Populism vs. The Old Order, is now out from Bombardier Books.
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