Tuesday, December 07, 2021

It's About Control - Not Life


 

About 38% of Americans Have A Positive View Of Socialism

 

These charts are from a recent Gallup Poll -- done between October 1st and 19th of a national sample of 823 adults, with a 4 point margin of error.




Texas Is Not Ready - But Cancun Is

 Political Cartoon is by Nick Anderson in Reform Austin News.

Do Republicans Care About The Lives Of School Children?


There have been 28 shootings in schools this year in the United States. That's more than two for every month of the year (and we still have nearly a month to go before the year is over). This doesn't happen in any other developed nation, and there's no reason for it to be happening here.

So, why does it continue to happen? Why have there been 655 mass shootings this year? Why have 41,672 people died from gun violence this year? 

The reason for all of the above is the refusal of Congress to do anything to restrict access to guns by the dangerous individuals who shouldn't have them -- primarily Republicans. These Republicans fall back on arguing that they are protecting the Second Amendment. That's mendacity!

No right is without its restrictions. Free speech has its limits. You can't yell fire in a crowded place, or encourage anyone to harm another person. Even the right to vote has restrictions. A resident of this country must be a citizen, and must be registered.

The right to own a firearm also has its limits, even though many Republican officials don't like that. The Supreme Court has ruled that the government can restrict who can own or buy a firearm, and even restrict the type of firearm that can be bought or owned. These restrictions don't keep any honest and law-abiding person from buying or owning a firearm.

We may not be able to stop all gun violence or deaths, but we can pass some laws that would significantly reduce the gun violence and deaths -- some common sense laws that would save lives without violating the Constitution.

The most obvious one is to plug the loopholes in the background check law, so felons, abuser, terrorists, and other dangerous people can't legally buy a firearm. This is supported by about 90% of the population, including most gun owners. But Republicans continue to block it, afraid they might lose the NRA money for their re-elections.

Evidently, NRA money is more important than the lives of Americans -- including school children.

No one is trying to take away the right of law-abiding people to buy or own a gun. But some restrictions are necessary to save lives. Good people must step up and vote against any politician that refuses to vote for sensible and constitutional legislation. The school shootings, and other mass shootings, will not stop until this is done.

The Republican officials have blood on their hands -- but so do the people who vote for them (knowing they will do nothing to protect American lives).

School Targets

Political Cartoon is by Gary Huck at huckkonopackicartoons.com.
 

One Of The Few Decent Republicans Has Died (Bob Dole)


 

Monday, December 06, 2021

The System Is Rigged To Favor The Rich

 

GOP Opposes Everything That Most People Want To Happen

 

It seems like all we hear these days is how the Republican Party is going to win in 2022 -- and seize control of one or both houses of Congress. I know that tradition says the party not in the White House usually does well in an off-year election, but that does not have to happen. There have been years where the party in the White House did well in the off-year election. And we also have to take into account that the current Republican Party is an extremist organization. They refuse to negotiate or compromise on anything, and most voters don't like that. Voters in the U.S. tend to like moderation -- not extremism.

Add to this the fact that the current Republican Party opposes everything that most people would like to see happen. Some examples:

A majority of Americans want the government to control global warming and stop the climate change that is happening. Republicans oppose efforts to do that.

Most Americans want to see the minimum wage raised, so full-time workers don't remain mired in poverty. Republicans oppose raising the minimum wage, and some even want to abolish it.

Most Americans want the government to insure that all citizens have health care insurance. Republicans oppose all efforts to accomplish that.

Most Americans want the loopholes closed in the background check law, so that criminals, terrorists, and other dangerous people cannot legally buy a gun. Republicans have blocked all attempts to do that.

Most Americans want the rich, especially the super-rich, to pay more in taxes. Republicans want them to pay less.

Most Americans want it made easier for citizens to vote. Republicans are trying to make it harder.

Most Americans support abortion in at least some cases (like in Roe vs. Wade). Republicans want to make abortion illegal -- forcing women into dangerous back-alley abortions.

Most Americans want the coronavirus controlled through vaccinations and wearing of masks. Republicans oppose both (and are actually helping the virus to survive).

Most Americans want to see marijuana legalized. Republicans oppose legalization.

Most Americans support same-sex marriage and want equal rights for the LGBT community. Republicans think it's OK to discriminate.

Maybe the Republicans will win in 2022. But if they do, it will be because too many voters stayed home. The current Republican Party is out-of-step with a clear majority of voters.

The Gift That Keeps Killing

 Political Cartoon is by Ed Hall at Artizans.com.

Joy Reid Lists 6 Books Students Should Absolutely Read


In an effort to control what students may learn in schools, right-wingers have tried to ban books they don't like.

To counter this ridiculous effort, Joy Reid of MSNBC.com has offered a short list of books that she thinks students (and adults) should read.

Here is her list:


‘The 1619 Project’

Since Nikole Hannah-Jones’ “The 1619 Project” made its debut in 2019, conservatives have used it as a scapegoat to attack nonwhite educators and lesson plans about inequality. The collaborative writing project sought “to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at the very center of the United States’ national narrative,” said Jake Silverstein, the editor-in-chief of The New York Times Magazine.

In other words, it defies the fiction spun primarily by white conservatives who offer rosy depictions about how the U.S. came to be. 

‘The Bluest Eye’

Many conservative groups have tried to ban “The Bluest Eye,” Toni Morrison’s bestselling debut novel, since its publication in 1970. The book tells the story of Pecola Breedlove, an 11-year-old Black girl in Ohio who prays for the blond hair and blue eyes she believes will make her beautiful. The novel depicts the struggle of a Black family living in a racist community, and conservatives have focused on its references to sexual abuse in an effort to ban it from high school reading lists

‘Ruby Bridges Goes to School’

Conservative groups throughout the country have sought to ban this autobiographical children’s book by civil rights legend Ruby Bridges, who wrote about her experience integrating Louisiana’s William Frantz Elementary School in 1960. Bridges faced a mob of angry, white racists en route to class and needed a police escort to accompany her. In Tennessee, the head of one conservative organization seeking to ban the book said its description of a “large crowd of angry white people who didn’t want Black children in a white school” too harshly delineated between Black and white people.

‘In the Dream House’

“In the Dream House,” a memoir by Carmen Maria Machado, delves into an emotionally and physically abusive same-sex relationship she had with a partner. Some conservatives, including the school board in Leander, Texas, have targeted the book for removal from high school reading lists. “In the Dream House” was listed among several books high school students could choose to read before it was banned in the district this year

‘Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic’

“Fun Home,” an award-winning graphic memoir by Alison Bechdel, primarily explores her relationship to her father, a funeral director and schoolteacher who came out as gay, as well as her own gender and sexual identity. The book chronicles Bechdel’s coming into her identity as a lesbian, and it examines what she learned about herself and the world through her father. A group of parents in Clark County, Nevada, had it removed from at least one high school’s reading list last year.

‘Martin Luther King, Jr. and the March on Washington’

This is a children’s book by Frances E. Ruffin about Martin Luther King Jr.’s famed “I Have a Dream’’ speech and his involvement with the March on Washington. King is just about the only civil rights figure conservatives care to refer to — although they typically use his words only cynically and out of context. But now, conservative parents in Tennessee are actively trying to ban this story from schools completely.

Mandatory

 Political Cartoon is by Ed Wexler at Cagle.com.

Biggest Danger To U.S. Democracy Is From Right-Wingers

 

One of the worst things that could happen to global democracy is for democracy to fail in the United States. And that is currently in danger of happening -- not from China or Russia -- but from domestic right-wingers in the Republican Party.

Here's part of what Aaron David Miller and Richard Sokolsky wrote about the danger to democracy in The Washington Post:

If the Biden administration has a foreign policy doctrine, it’s surely the president’s oft-stated vision that democracies are locked in a must-win historic battle with autocracies. . . .

To give substance to that focus, the administration this coming week will convene the first of two planned Summits for Democracy. The virtual gathering of leaders from more than 100 countries is designed, according to a State Department announcement, to “set forth an affirmative agenda for democratic renewal and to tackle the greatest threats faced by democracies today through collective action.” Implicitly, it is a show against authoritarianism, especially in China.

There are many good reasons to host such a gathering. It’s smart politics, fulfills a campaign commitment and counters the perception, fostered by President Donald Trump, that America is no longer interested in promoting democracy and human rights. But as a geopolitical instrument, drawing lines between democracies and autocracies is not only certain to disappoint — it’s also a deeply flawed organizing principle for America’s approach to the world.

China and Russia, which Biden has also singled out for criticism, are not the main causes of the weakening of democracies around the world. Most of the backsliding, according to a recent study, has been caused by erosion within the world’s democracies, including the United States and many of its allies. Indeed, the upcoming summit includes a number of countries — India, Brazil, the Philippines and Poland among them — marked by growing autocratic movements and infringements on freedom of expression and a free press. And pushing these and other countries to reform their political, electoral or judicial institutions from the outside is hard if not impossible. . . .

There’s also the politically inconvenient question of whether the United States is best positioned to lead this effort. Rarely has America’s democracy crusade abroad contrasted more with its commitment to democratic practices at home — where the threats include Trump’s false claims that the presidential election was “stolen,” an insurrection to stop a democratic transition and efforts to restrict voting rights. America has a glass-house problem, and it needs to promote its democratic virtues with considerable humility. According to Freedom House’s annual country-by-country assessment of political and civil rights, the United States continued to experience erosion in democratic practices in 2020;over the past decade, America’s score dropped from 94 to 83 out of 100, among the steepest falls of any country during this period. 

It is hard to take seriously the notion that the United States can restore its “soft power” by virtue of the example it is setting at home. A recent Pew Research Center study found that a median of only 17 percent of people in surveyed countries thought U.S. democracy worth emulating, while 23 percent said it had never offered a good example. It is also hard to quibble with the proposition that America’s influence abroad is waningprimarily because of its domestic problems, rather than authoritarian muscle-flexing in Moscow or Beijing.

Instead of chasing the chimerical goal of democratizing the domestic political orders of other countries according to a one-size-fits-all democratic shoe, the Biden administration would be well-advised to set its sights lower. . . .

The Biden administration is fond of talking about going big, but when it comes to promoting democracy, it would be far better if it went smaller abroad and, given the perilous state of American democratic practices, very big at home.

The Horse Is Smarter

Political Cartoon is by Clay Jones at claytoonz.com.
 

It's Time For The Good People To Act


 

Saturday, December 04, 2021

The Choice We Have To Make


 

Unemployment Rate Drops By 0.4% In November To 4.2%


The Labor Department released its unemployment numbers for November on Friday. It showed the economy had added another 210,000 jobs. Some economists were disappointed with the number of new jobs, but it was enough to reduce the unemployment rate by 0.4% (from 4.6% in October to 4.2% in November). 

Here are the relevant statistics for November:

SIZE OF THE CIVILIAN LABOR FORCE:

162,052,000

OFFICIAL NUMBER OF UNEMPLOYED WORKERS:

6,877,000

OFFICIAL UNEMPLOYMENT RATE:

4.2%

DEMOGRAPHIC BREAKDOWN OF OFFICIAL UNEMPLOYMENT:

Adult men...............4.0%

Adult women...............4.0%

Teens (16-19)...............11.2%

Whites...............3.7%

Blacks...............6.7%

Asians...............3.8%

Hispanics...............5.2%

Less than HS diploma...............5.7%

HS graduate...............5.2%

Some college...............3.7%

Bachelor's deg. or more...............2.3%

NUMBER OF MARGINALLY-ATTACHED WORKERS (unemployed but not counted):

1,625,000

MORE REALISTIC NUMBER OF UNEMPLOYED WORKERS (Official + marginally-attached):

8,502,000

MORE REALISTIC UNEMPLOYMENT RATE:

5.25%

It's NOT Over

Political Cartoon is by Dave Whamond in The Washington Post.
 

GOP Willing To Hurt The Country To Prove Loyalty To Trump


The Republican Party has no agenda. They showed that in their 2020 convention, when they didn't even bother to propose a platform -- instead just saying that whatever Trump wanted to do was OK with them. Now they are engaged in fighting against masks and vaccinations, obstructing everything Democrats try to do, and even flirting with default and a government shutdown -- all things that hurt this country and its citizens. Why? Just to show their loyalty to Trump. They are now just another cult.

Here's part of how Paul Krugman puts it in his New York Times column:

Under Obama, leading Republicans claimed that their fiscal brinkmanship was motivated by concerns about budget deficits. Some of us argued even at the time that self-proclaimed deficit hawks were phonies, that they didn’t actually care about government debt — a view validated by their silence when the Trump administration blew up the deficit — and that they actually wanted to see the economy suffer on Obama’s watch. But they maintained enough of a veneer of responsibility to fool many commentators.

This time, Republican obstructionists aren’t even pretending to care about red ink. Instead, they’re threatening to shut everything down unless the Biden administration abandons its efforts to fight the coronavirus with vaccine mandates.

What’s that about? As many observers have pointed out, claims that opposition to vaccine mandates (and similar opposition to mask mandates) is about maintaining personal freedom don’t stand up to any kind of scrutiny. No reasonable definition of freedom includes the right to endanger other people’s health and lives because you don’t feel like taking basic precautions.

Furthermore, actions by Republican-controlled state governments, for example in Florida and Texas, show a party that isn’t so much pro-freedom as it is pro-Covid. How else can you explain attempts to prevent private businesses — whose freedom to choose was supposed to be sacrosanct — from requiring that their workers be vaccinated, or offers of special unemployment benefits for the unvaccinated?

In other words, the G.O.P. doesn’t look like a party trying to defend liberty; it looks like a party trying to block any effective response to a deadly disease. Why is it doing this?

To some extent it surely reflects a coldly cynical political calculation. Voters tend to blame whichever party holds the White House for anything bad that happens on its watch, which creates an incentive for a sufficiently ruthless party to engage in outright sabotage. Sure enough, Republicans who fought all efforts to contain the coronavirus are now attacking the Biden administration for failing to end the pandemic.

But trying to shut down the government to block vaccinations seems like overreach, even for hardened cynics. It’s notable that Mitch McConnell, whom nobody could accuse of being a do-gooder, isn’t part of the anti-vaccine caucus.

What seems to be happening instead goes beyond cold calculation. As I’ve pointed out in the past, Republican politicians now act like apparatchiks in an authoritarian regime, competing to take ever more extreme positions as a way to demonstrate their loyalty to the cause — and to The Leader. Catering to anti-vaccine hysteria, doing all they can to keep the pandemic going, has become something Republicans do to remain in good standing within the party.

The result is that one of America’s two major political parties isn’t just refusing to help the nation deal with its problems; it’s actively working to make the country ungovernable.

And I hope the rest of us haven’t lost the ability to be properly horrified at this spectacle.

Out Of Control

 Political Cartoon is by Steve Sack in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

This Is True For Justice Anywhere


 

Friday, December 03, 2021

It Doesn't Get Any Crazier Than This!

 

Omicron Is Here & Most People Support Efforts To Control It


 

The COVID-19 Omicron variant has reached the United States. Republicans are already starting to play political games with it (with some even calling it a Democratic Party plot to win the 2022 election). But most Americans are not that stupid. They know it's dangerous, and they are willing to have the government do whatever is necessary to control the virus (in all its forms). The only thing most people don't support is closing down businesses and government again.

The chart above is from a Morning Consult Poll -- done on November 29th and 30th of a national sample of 2,200 adults, with a 2 point margin of error.

Coat Hanger Court

Political Cartoon is by Ed Hall at Artizans.com.
 

About 222,000 Workers Filed For Unemployment Last Week


The Labor Department released its weekly unemployment statistics on Thursday. It showed that about 222,000 workers filed for unemployment benefits in the week ending on November 27th. That's a slight increase over last week's record low numbers.

Here is the official Labor Department statement:

In the week ending November 27, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 222,000, an increase of 28,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised down by 5,000 from 199,000 to 194,000. The 4-week moving average was 238,750, a decrease of 12,250 from the previous week's revised average. This is the lowest level for this average since March 14, 2020 when it was 225,500. The previous week's average was revised down by 1,250 from 252,250 to 251,000.

Learning About 2nd Amendment (The Hard Way)

Political Cartoon is by John Cole in the Scranton Times-Tribune.
 

Medical Quack To Run For GOP Senate Nomination In Pa.


Trump's favorite candidate for the Senate in Pennsylvania (Sean Parnell) has dropped out of the race after being accused of wife-beating. But have no fear. The GOP has someone just as bad to replace him. Medical quack, Dr. Oz, has tossed his hat in the ring.

Here's how Ja'han Jones at MSNBC.com describes it:

Mehmet Oz, known as “Dr. Oz” to the daytime television talk show crowd, entered the Republican primary for Senate in Pennsylvaniaon Tuesday — and there’s no better time for me to remind you how much of a quack he is.

Oz, who is reportedly a longtime New Jersey resident, announced his bid after another Republican in the race, Sean Parnell, suspended his campaign last week. Parnell, who received former President Donald Trump’s endorsement in September, dropped out of the race after his estranged wife accused him of abusing her and their children.

Oz must have seen that as his calling, as he’s now among several candidates vying to win the GOP primary and face off against the leading Democrat for the Senate seat being vacated by two-term Republican Pat Toomey.

In the Washington Examiner op-ed announcing his candidacy, Oz tried to pitch himself as a trustworthy medical authority to the Republican base by regurgitating conservative talking points promising “freedom” from Covid-19 safety protocols. The doctor’s candidacy, according to his op-ed, is premised on his pandemic response proposals. (Spoiler alert: They’re terrible.)

“The arrogant, closed-minded people in charge closed our parks, shuttered our schools, shut down our businesses, and took away our freedom,” Oz wrote, adding, “Doctors are trained to tell it like it is because you deserve to hear our best advice and make your own decisions. It’s why I have fought the establishment my whole career.”

But Oz, a frequent Fox News guest, has been widely discredited for his health claims about Covid and other matters. His candidacy and popular punditry is just the latest sign — in fact, a perfect symbol — of the Republican Party’s embrace of misinformation and its obsession with made-for-TV figures, especially old ones who appear between catheter commercials on Fox News. 

I invite you to check out this nonexhaustive list from Business Insider that includes some of the most outlandish, baseless and false claims Oz has made during his time as a TV host. He’s frequently pitched unproven concoctions as miracle solutions for all sorts of maladies, and he’s been called to Congress to answer for his false claims

Just last year, he called for schools to reopen because doing so might “only cost us 2 to 3 percent, in terms of total mortality.” His disregard for life earned so much backlash that he apologized soon after making the comments.

Oz is a danger to public health who spreads his pseudoscientific theories far and wide. In that sense, he’s the perfect candidate for a Republican Party that’s just as enthralled by medical disinformation as he is.

The Arsonists

Political Cartoon is by Kevin Siers in The Charlotte Observer.
 

Could The Court Survive The Stench?


 

Thursday, December 02, 2021

Why Overturning Roe V. Wade Would Be Wrong


 

U.S. Sets New Record In Mass Shootings (With Month To Go)


The chart above, using figures from the Gun Violence Archive, shows the number of mass shootings in the United States between 2014 and 2021. Note that the U.S. has had 652 mass shootings this year. That's a record -- 41 more than last year (which was also a record number). And this year still has another 30 days to go. The new record will undoubtably climb even higher.

So far, there have been 41,080 deaths from gun violence this year.

There have been 28 school shootings this year. The most recent was at Oxford High School in Michigan just a couple of days ago.

Global Supply Is Strong (For Virus)

Political Cartoon is by Drew Sheneman in the NJ Star-Ledger.
 

Young People Think The U.S. Is A Democracy In Trouble




The charts above are from the recent Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics Poll -- done between October 26th and November 8th of a national sample of 18 to 29 year olds, with a 3.08 point margin of error.

The Bear Is Ready To Feed

Political Cartoon is by Ed Hall at Artizans.com.
 

Abbott/GOP Says Electric Grid Was Fixed - It Wasn't


Last winter, the power grid in Texas failed when a worse-than-normal storm hit the state, and over 200 people died. The GOP has said it fixed the problem in the last legislative session, and Abbott guarantees that there can't be another failure of the grid. They are not telling the truth. 

At MSNBC.com, Ja'han Jones explains the situation:

In February, a devastating winter storm and freezing temperatures led to utter catastrophe in Texas. The state’s power grid nearly collapsed, more than 200 people died and millions of customers lived without power for days. But since then, the state lawmakers in charge still haven’t effectively protected the state from a repeat of the crisis.

new report from NBC News and The Texas Tribune outlined how corporate pressure has effectively weakened lawmakers’ proposals for regulatory measures meant to ensure Texas’ power grid is fit to withstand extreme weather events. 

The main takeaway is that some Texas lawmakers created a giant loophole in a bill they passed this year that was meant to require gas companies to weatherize their systems. Specifically, legislators passed a measure including weatherization requirements for power companies, but they left it to state regulatory agencies — namely, the Texas Railroad Commission and the Public Utility Commission — to impose the mandate. Those agencies have allowed power companies to opt out of the weatherization requirements.

As a result of that loophole, Texas has made only incremental changes to avoid a repeat of a disaster in which many died and much of the state was brought to a standstill.

It’s crucial to note that the blackouts in February had a disproportionate impact on Black, Latino and low-income Texans, with many people in Black and Latino communities going days without access to electricity, gas or water.

In June, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, claimed “everything that needed to be done was done to fix the power grid” after the blackouts months earlier.

The NBC News and Texas Tribune report on Texas’ vulnerable power grid undermines his claim that the grid has been adequately prepared for future weather events. It also shows that Abbott and the Republican-led Legislature in Texas are willing to endanger people most susceptible to harm from these events — Black and Latino people — in order to satisfy corporate interests.

It Is OK With Republicans

Political Cartoon is by Clay Jones at claytoonz.com.
 

If The Supreme Court Overturns Roe Vs. Wade


 

Wednesday, December 01, 2021

Symbols Of Human Failure


 

Americans Approve Of Guilty Verdicts For Arbery Killing


The chart above is from the Morning Consult Poll -- done between November 24th and 27th of a national sample of 2,200 adults, with a 2 point margin of error. 

Just A Cartoon

 Political Cartoon is by Clay Jones at claytoonz.com.

About 16% Of Children Under 5 Live In Poverty - Why?

 

About 9% of seniors in the U.S. live in poverty. About 16% of children under 5 years old live in poverty. In a country as rich as the United States, neither of those facts should be true. But the numbers do pose a question -- why has this country done a mediocre job of dealing with poverty among the elderly, but a terrible job of dealing with poverty among young children?

Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich answers the question:

The current poverty rate among the elderly is 9 percentThat’s still too high, especially considering that our official measure of poverty understates the true level of hardship by failing to fully account for the high costs of housing. 

But the current the poverty rate for children under 5 years old is over 16 percentThat, if I may say so, is an utter scandal. 

The rate of child poverty in America hovered around 15 percent through most of the 1980s and early 1990s but worsened after 1996 when the Clinton administration (of which I was a member) joined Republicans in Congress to end a program called “Aid to Families with Dependent Children,” by then known as “welfare.” It had been part of the Social Security Act of 1935. I thought Clinton’s decision shameful then, and still do. 

The Build Back Better bill that has passed the House (now awaiting Manchin’s and Sinema’s nods) extends the year-long child tax credit in last year’s Covid bill, thereby reversing Clinton’s decision — but not by much. The extension is for only one additional year. Had the tax credit been made permanent, as was Biden’s original intent, it would have cut child poverty by half.

America’s current rate of child poverty is among the highest of all advanced nations. We do have a Children’s Health Insurance Program, but it’s not close to what other advanced nations give their children. Hell, we don’t even provide what other advanced nations offer by way of childcare. Norway spends about $30,000 per child each year on early childhood care. Finland spends $23,000. Germany, $18,000. The United States? We spend $500 per child — or 1/60th of what Norways spends on its toddlers. As it stands now, Biden’s Build Back Better bill will provide additional funding. But it’s astonishing how little the richest nation in the world has done for its kids.   

Let’s be clear: Poverty is a political choice. 

So why have we chosen to reduce poverty among America’s elderly but not among America’s children? There are three dominant theories:

Because the elderly vote and children don’t. Many have suggested this, but it can’t be the reason because children have parents and grandparents who do vote. 

Because of racism, in that a disproportionate percent of poor kids are children of color. This is a common explanation as well, but it also falls short because a disproportionate percent of the elderly poor are also people of color. 

Because of demographics, in that the giant boomer generation is intent on keeping or expanding Social Security and Medicare. The timing doesn’t quite work, in that America was most generous to the elderly way before boomers got old. Besides, boomers have grandkids. 

So what’s the answer? My guess is that we as a society were simply more generous to those in need during the 1960s and 1970s, because those were years when the middle class was expanding, and most Americans were doing better. These were the years when we created Medicare and expanded Social Security, and provided a lot of assistance to poor children through Aid to Families with Dependent Children.

But we’re not as generous now. Even though the American economy is far larger than it was then, the middle class is a smaller share of it. For the last four decades America has been dividing into well-off professionals who don’t feel any connection to the poor, and a beleaguered working class that’s easily convinced any help to the poor will cause their taxes to increase. 

Hence, in 1996 even a Democratic president decided to end aid to poor kids, largely because polls showed that most Americans — including the vast majority of the working class — no longer supported welfare. Twenty-five years later — and even after the awful consequences of that decision have become apparent — a Democratic Congress has chosen not to provide permanent help to the nation’s poor kids. 

In other words, I don’t think we’ve prioritized the elderly poor over poor children. The big difference is we have become far less equal as a society, which has made us less willing to remedy poverty at all.