Luján Addresses 50th Anniversary of War on Poverty

President Lydon B. Johnson


WASHINGTON D.C. – Rep.  Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., released the following statement Wednesday on the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s “War on Poverty.”

“Fifty years ago, in a State of the Union Address, President Johnson declared ‘War on Poverty’ and brought to the conscience of a nation the plight of millions of Americans who were suffering from hunger, unemployment, and a lack of economic opportunity.  He focused attention on those for whom the American Dream had fallen out of reach.

“Since that time, our nation has made strides, implementing polices that have given more Americans an opportunity to succeed and climb the ladder out of poverty. Social Security and Medicare have been instrumental in helping millions of Americans avoid the clutches of poverty and secure dignity in their older years. Head Start, Pell Grants, and nutrition assistance have all helped lift millions of families out of destitution.

“Despite these efforts over the past 50 years, much work still remains. In New Mexico, too many of our friends and neighbors are living in poverty. Too many of our children go to bed hungry every night. Too many Americans still ‘live on the outskirts of hope’ just as President Johnson saw five decades ago. Our fight against poverty must not fade. As long as 20 percent of New Mexicans continue to live in poverty, we must continue to work toward solutions that provide a fair shot at the American Dream.

“Slashing nutrition assistance for families that are struggling to put food on the table and allowing unemployment insurance to expire for those who are working so hard to find a job in the face of a tough economy is no way to achieve this goal. Providing a safety net that supports families during difficult times along with implementing economic policies that invest in education, innovation, and infrastructure are critical components of an agenda that will create jobs and provide opportunities for all Americans.

“As we recognize this anniversary of President Johnson’s call to action, let us recommit to work on behalf of the men, women, and children who live in poverty and address this challenge head on.”