Shock poll: Americans believe government anti-poverty programs cause more poverty, and they’re absolutely right

It isn’t news to conservatives that government programs do not reduce poverty levels. What is news is that 49% of Americans apparently believe that not only do government anti-poverty programs fail, but they also may increase the level of poverty.

A recent Rasmussen poll also pointed out that people that personally witness what happens when people receive government assistance are more likely than those that don’t to believe that anti-poverty programs actually increase the poverty level. While these findings are trending slightly lower than results from previous years, it is still a sign that the public may not believe that the government can resolve the issue of poverty through assistance programs.

A more profound indication of that belief is seen when people stated their thoughts about the number of people receiving government assistance - 67% believe that too many people are dependent on the government. Additionally, 62% believe that the government needs to be smaller, offering fewer programs. The same percentage of adults are keeping up with government program issues in the news.

These are excellent numbers for conservatives, if they can manage to deliver a message that the public wants to hear. Theoretically, the public is ready to see changes in anti-poverty programs. The problem isn’t selling the concept of welfare reform - it is with offering an alternative that isn’t perceived as harmful to the people that truly need assistance. This shouldn’t be extremely difficult, because 64% of Americans think that too many people that do not actually need assistance are receiving it.

The implication of this is that voters would most likely prefer reform that is primarily centered on reducing fraudulent claims. Also, a program reduction through increasing eligible income thresholds may be well-received. Finally, anything that would remove the ability of people that could be employed from receiving assistance could be considered.

While it isn’t likely that the current Congress would be able to enact any meaningful reforms, this is an issue that could be used on the campaign trail. It’s certain that any legislation passed by the House would be stopped in the Senate. Bills that could have helped taxpayers, but were stopped by the Democrat controlled Senate need to be the centerpiece of stump speeches from conservatives this fall.


The views and opinions expressed by individual authors are not necessarily those of other authors, advertisers, developers or editors at United Liberty.