Legacies of the War on Poverty, lessons for the future: panel

January 8, 2014 1:19:48
Kaltura Video

National Poverty Center at the University of Michigan's Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, the Russell Sage Foundation, and Spotlight on Poverty mark the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty.


>> We're going to go our panel of respondents.  Who--I'll give each of you five minutes right off the top and handle this with marshal discipline as well to give everybody a chance to speak.  And then we will have a discussion between us.  And then give the audience a chance to respond as well.  I'm going to go in the order of our sitting up here.  And I'll begin with Jocelyn.  And I'll give you a chance to respond that particularly to this question of "Did poverty win?"
>> OK.  Thank you and good morning.  It's terrific to be here with such a terrific, distinguished panel.  And first and foremost, I want to thank Sheldon and Martha for such a great book and for really discussing in detail a lot of the impact of the war on poverty.  And I think what I'd like to do is focus a little bit on the lessons that we can learn from the war on poverty and so my first answer to your question is, you know, did we--did the war win?  I think that that's--I'm going to sort of talk a little bit an offshoot of that question because I don't think that the war is over.  I think what the book does in a very compelling way is make it clear important progress has been made and that we shouldn't discount that progress.  And the fact that we haven't won, doesn't mean that the war was a failure.  I think it just means that it's a difficult war to win.  And so the question on the table is, "What steps do we really need to take to continue the progress that has been made?"  And, well, don't love the war analogy.  What I understand about war or conflict is that, you know, in any sort of engagement, conditions change.  You've got to be able to change as the conditions change.  You need to able to tweak the strategies that you deployed.  You need to be able to deploy new strategies.  And you need to be in it for the long haul.  You can't sort of get out when it gets difficult or hard.  And to me, that's one of the important legacies that we ought to think about.  But when you look at, particularly President Johnson's speech and you look at the way that the book sort of in a very comprehensively talks about the range of programs involved with the war on poverty, it seems to me there at least five takeaways that I think are instructive in terms of where we need to go today.  The first is that the war on poverty was rooted in our nation's values, around individual dignity, around equality and that one of the clear goals of President Johnson's program was to make real the promise of equality and fairness to demonstrate concretely what we as a nation needed to do in order to make all of our values felt equally by all of our citizens.  The second thing is that he took a comprehensive approach.  And, well, I suppose there's a lot of debate about sort of what the scope should look like, I think what's important is that he understood that there wasn't a one size fits all solution.  That tackling poverty meant doing a number of things.  It meant investments around education.  It meant healthcare.  It meant social security.  It meant looking from the young people in their earliest years and making sure that kids get a healthy start in life, all the way to the end in looking at our seniors.  And I think that comprehensive framework is one that's still relevant today.  The third thing he did and Martha spoke about this is that he recognized as a poor policy matter that equality was inextricably linked to poverty.  And that entrenched barriers to equality often have as a side effect persistent poverty and persistent economic insecurity.  And so he framed the strategy around tackling equality as a fundamental economic policy initiative.  And I think that's important today.  We often talk about those issues in silos.  But the reality is that our efforts to ensure equality for all Americans is fundamentally related to our ability to have a strong economy.  And it should be considered an economic strategy and not something nice thing to do.  The fourth thing I think is important is that he understood he had a fight on his hand.  He called it a war for a reason.  He understood that, you know, you can't just pass a bunch of laws and then hope that everything turns out right.  That he did have to leverage the power of the federal government.  That it was important to make it clear that he understood he was fighting against something, that there were interest in preserving the status quo.  And that it wasn't going to be as easy as simply hoping that once you put laws in place, that they would actually were--just work unconditionally.  And lastly and I think this is important, is that he understood that everybody had a role to play.  People present the war on poverty as simply a bunch of government solutions.  But if you look at his speech, he explicitly said otherwise.  He understood the government had a role to play but it wasn't just government that everybody needed to come to the table.  I think those principles are important as we look forward because I think they can shape and provide a framework for progress that we need to make today.  And I know we'll get into more detail but it seems to me that the conditions have changed.  The conditions that were present 50 years ago are clearly different today.  And at least some of the areas that I think that we need to focus on in continuing the progress that was made, need to focus on quality jobs.  As, I think Sheldon mentioned, the jobs that are being grown today, many of those are low wage jobs and are simply not able to provide people the economic standard that we need.  So a focus on jobs that actually are better jobs is an important investment, a focus on living wages, decent wages, clearly raising the minimum wage but efforts around the country to actually think about what a living wage really looks like and making sure that people are paid fairly for their work.  So the work around equal pay is a critical component, particularly for women because one of the biggest changes that has happened is the influx of women into the workforce.  In continued investments in early childhood education and ensuring that kids have the best start in life.  So discussions around universal pre-K and improving the quality of child care is essential.  And the last thing that I will say is continued investments in--and vigilance around eradicating discrimination.  People often forget about the important of investments and civil rights enforcement that it's very much connected to the ability of everybody to have an equal chance to succeed in the workplace.  The very last thing I will say is that despite all the critic about the war on poverty, I think there's a lot of support nationally for taking and pursuing a lot of the strategies.  The center through the Half in Ten program just released some polling that showed that nearly 70 percent of Americans support a new war on poverty.  And I think that should embolden us to make those--the changes that we need to really continue to move forward.  So thank you.
>> And thank you.  Well, Kevin Hassett, has this embolden you to move forward?  And on that question of whether poverty won, how do you feel about that?
>> Oh, yeah.  So did poverty win and you mentioned that I've been a critic of income inequality analysis in the space.  And I can say that the council of economic advisers put out a report last night that looked at the same topic that we're discussing today and had a very measured and academically credible discussion of the debates that we've been having, maybe Sheldon and I more than a decade now, that about how to measure it and how to judge our progress.  And I think that we know that if we look at consumption revenue income, then the story can often be quite radically different in terms of how much progress we're making.  And that, so while income inequality has skyrocketed, I have a paper called the New Measure of Consumption Inequality with [inaudible] that came out about a year ago where we flat consumption Gini coefficients and showed that they've not really budged much at all.  And I think that in part, while income inequality can increase--if income inequality can increase and consumption inequality is not increasing nearly as much, or maybe much if it all, then that means that there's both a war on poverty and really kind of war on inequality that's going on that there are transfers either through high marginal rates on the rich or middle class programs, subsidized middle class consumption which is--like sub-security might be an example, disability might be another example.  But if you stipulate, the consumption inequality analysis that we've been doing for years that suggest that people are doing better than you might think if you look just at income inequality, then you have to concede that that consumption is being bolstered by a lot of these programs, the transfer programs.  And so, if you think--you know, and partly I think that Sheldon overstates the decoupling from growth and I'll talk about that in a second.  But I you think that consumption is holding up a lot better than what you might have expected, given that income hasn't, then it must be that collectively these programs are having a big effect.  And so therefore, the war on poverty must be helping people maintain consumption.
>> Just to clarify, you're saying--because people have cellphones and VCRs or--
>> Well, you see it in measured consumption.  But you also see it in terms of--and this is a thought experiment the department and I play--which we're able to play because of the Residential Energy Conservation Survey which is this great survey which basically goes in the people's homes and writes down everything that they've got in their house, you know, 700 something variables.  And if you look at that, one of the things that I find striking is that if you believe, for example, the wage chart, that says real wages haven't increased in 40 years, then what that means is that if you were--if you really had measured what wealth--you know, welfare correctly with your price index, it's meant measuring the real wage.  Then it ought to be that we could take a random person today and say, "Hey, I'll let you trade your current circumstances, the house you live in, the stuff you've got for one 40 years ago, for a house with stuff 40 years ago and they should be in different, right.  If the real wage really hadn't grown and that was the relevant metric of their welfare.  But if you actually looked at the houses have changed and what's inside them and the percentage of people that have heating and air-conditioning and washer-dryers, and things like that, there's nobody would--even people below the poverty line would be very irate if you try to make them take that trade.  And I think that that's a challenge for measuring things.  And I know I don't have a lot of time.  But I wanted to say that going forward though, I agree that there's a lot of hard work that we have to do in terms of policy design and I want to list a few areas.  And I think in this.  I might be in much more agreement with Sheldon.  I think that first--well, I don't think that the growth welfare of the poor nexus has broken the way Sheldon says.  I think that there's a risk that going forward, it might be more broken than it has been because we have a serious problem with long-term unemployment.  And the long-term unemployed are really hard to reconnect to society as society grows.  And so, I think that going forward, we've not done a good job of thinking about how we can reconnect the long-term unemployed to society.  We know that that's a very, very hard problem and we're not really doing much to do it.  And that was one Sheldon's bullet points and that would be one my top priorities.  I think the second thing is that we need to recognize that we've kind of undone welfare reform.  I think if the ultimate objective is to hand up, which I think there's a lot of bipartisan agreement about and I think President Clinton--I think in the end supported reforms that had a big positive effect on lives--many lives.  And I think that we've kind of undone them by spreading the idea of welfare outside, like into the tax code through the ITC.  And that if you look there was a Hamilton event a few weeks ago that talked about the ridiculously high marginal tax rates that--especially second earners phase because they lose benefits if they go out and get a job and you can often get tax rates above 100 percent.  And so we've really discourage work for low and middle income people with high marginal rates with this new construction that we have where we have--have a welfare programs that sort of outside of the welfare program that we revise to encourage work more and were really discouraging work a lot.  And we need to think about the Hamilton proposal, what was to have a refundable credit for second earners and thinks like that.  But we need to explore policies like that because we're discouraging work so much and it's not necessarily the case that we built something that's a hand up.  The third thing I think is that if you look at a really, really big challenge that we have in terms of poverty that you have to say that geographic variation is enormous.  And that there are packets like Detroit, but it's not just Detroit where things are really intensely awful.  And in the past there were strong bipartisan support for things like enterprise zones.  But I think there's wide agreement that the designs they tried in the past didn't worked.  And I think that the challenge going forward is to think about this geographic variation and what kind of policies we can develop to address it.  And finally, I would say that--and this goes to something in Martha and Sheldon's work that are in the book, that I would want to acknowledge which is that, well, the racial discrimination was really big focus, right at the onset for President Johnson.  And that the relative poverty has declined.  It's still the case that the poverty rate for African-Americans more than double by just about any measure.  And so while there's progress, there's still like a radical--when some things off by [inaudible] multiple then there's still a lot of work to do.  And so, I think that [inaudible]--so while there's been progress made on that, we need to think about why we haven't made enough.  And so that's what I would say.
>> Thank you.  Great valid points [inaudible].  I'm sure Jason has got a thing or two to say about.
>> Yeah.  Well, I was struck in his book as I think most readers would by the disconnect between the policy record that it details and the political verdict that's accompanied it.  And if you read the book, you may see that there're missteps or disappointments, but also real progress on a variety of fronts, housing, healthcare, nutrition, access to education.  It's a new a look at a mix record.  But the political verdict on the war on poverty it is nuance at all.  You know, it's widely shared I think and wholly negative as summed up by Ronald Reagan's devastating quip that we fought a war on poverty and poverty won.  You know, the phrase war on poverty is used I think not only to discredit government action on the poor but government action in general, certain federal government action.  So if it's true as Bailey and Danziger ague that poverty rates are much lower today than they would have been had the war on poverty never been declared.  The question becomes what is--why they ever get such a bad rep.  I want to use most of my five minutes to consider a few possibilities.  But let me spend 30 seconds or so for those of you haven't looked at the book yet to give you sense of some what they sight as Legacies of the War on Poverty.  An expansion in maternal health programs, dramatic--and then accompanying dramatic reduction in infant mortality, the creation of Head Start Program that's been shown the length in school attainment in bolster collage attendance, a dramatic decline in the official poverty rate of the elderly, the creation of what became the Pell Grant program, the creation of food nutrition programs "with the solid track record in reducing poverty in food and security, improving nutrition and yielding benefits for child heath and development," the narrowing of disparities between rich and poor in access to health care, and the list goes on.  So while progress may have been slower and more expensive than expected in some ways, the trends are going the wrong direction.  How that an effort that included such respected program as Head Starts, food--student loans and Medicare become the boogie man of American politics.  I have few possible theories.  Theory one would be that the authors are engaged in a liberal slight of hand.  There's no clear definition of what is the war on poverty and maybe this volume just lump some things that don't really belong there like Medicare and student loans.  When people criticize the war on poverty and their not criticizing honor students or old people.  They're criticizing community action and welfare program.  So, maybe this is simply a confusion of terminology.  The second theory might be the blaming the measuring stick.  In 1967 the official poverty rate was 14 percent, now it's 15 percent.  Certainly seems to bolster the conclusion that we fought a war on poverty and poverty won.  But as everyone in this room is aware the official poverty measure is a deeply flawed that leaves out the effects of non-cash programs like housing, food assistance, wage supplements and medical insurance.  A recent estimate by Jane Waldfogel and her colleagues found under a more expensive accounting, the poverty rate would have dropped from 26 percent in 1967 to 16 percent today, 26 percent to 16 percent, a 40 percent reduction.  That's not a thrilling breakthrough, probably not as much as LBJ would have hope for, but it's certainly significant progress and different from a picture of complete failure.  The different methodologies would give you different numbers.  The measure on poverty is very complex as Kevin alluded to.  But one thing struck me about that number is, you know, just intuitively, it feels kind of right for me.  If I think about--again, to use Kevin's thought about what would have been like 40 years ago, you know, I don't think any of us would want to change places with a citizen back then.  So a 40 percent, you know, half way--sort of almost half way on the foreign [phonetic] progress might--war on poverty might seem more appropriate.  Theory three, blame the headwinds, that's been discussed a lot here, wasn't so much what the government did but what the government came up again unexpectedly in terms of the economy stop lifting all boats demographic trends went the wrong way, the rise of single parenthood created more poverty.  The war on poverty can cause those trends, although sometimes gets blamed for the latter.  But maybe it's simply deserves credit for keeping people from losing more ground.  A fourth possibility is that it just suffered from bad timing and the war on poverty was declared and the next thing you knew, the riots were breaking out, the Black Power Movement grew militant, the Vietnam War grew south, crime soared, by the end of Watergate a decade later, anything government had eroded, maybe the war on poverty just gets blamed for occurring it the wrong time.  You know, similar to Kevin's point on the Ten Program, I think the opposite dynamic is occur, I Ten gets a lot of program--a lot of credit for having been born in the late 1990s when everything seemed to go well.
^M00:20:05 And most people haven't giving it a good second looks, you know, in the 10-year sense when it's suffered many of the problems or even worse problems than its critics predicted at the time.  So, maybe first impressions have a lot to do without programs or judge.  My last theory, I guess, about why the war on poverty has became so unpopular, is the racial theory that the war on poverty is unpopular because its largely understood as an effort to help more black people.  You know, when politicians talk about the war on poverty being poor, again, I don't think they're summoning--or the war on poverty having failed are not conjuring pictures of old ladies on Medicare using up too much money.  I think they're talking about black people getting welfare checks, which is particularly ironic when you think that LBJ hated the word so much, he wouldn't call HEW by its real name.  He called it Depart of Health and Education.  Ronal Reagan's famous supports for declaring the war on poverty a failure, he's also famous for talking about the Strapping Young Buck buying steaks with his food stamps, I think an image that leaves little doubt about what raised the strapping young man was.  These theories of course are not mutually exclusive as to why the war on poverty is so unpopular.  But if Bailey and Danziger are right and the defenders of the safety net have a set of partial successes, what are the lessons for going forward?  As long as I've been covering poverty for the New York Times, almost 25 years, the left has had some version of the same debate which is whether to talk about poverty in explicit terms and risk a kind of conservative backlash or to try to help poor people on the sly and avoid the war on poverty.  You know, in the late '80s and '90s, the emphasis was on helping kids.  I think we now have a conversation that's largely subsumed in a debate about inequality and opportunity which is certainly a safer word and one that--a more promising bridge to consensus. You know, as a journalist I come down in the side of the explicit.  There're tens of millions of poor Americans in their hardships run deep and they deserve a higher and more explicit place in the national conversation.  That's one reason why I like the book.  If our politician--I'm not sure I take that advice.  Because if the war on poverty shows anything, it's at the choice of words matter a lot and poverty remains are really divisive word in American politics, well, opportunity doesn't.  You know, if we do end up having a conversation about opportunity that becomes a more productive in terms of leading the policies to help low income Americans, maybe there's a historical footnote there which is that opportunity was of course the favored word of the architects of the war on poverty.  So much so that they house their effort in an office called the Office of Equal Opportunity.  So maybe in that sense we'll come full circle.
>> Thank you.  And finally, Michael, another journalist.  How do you feel about the question of "Did poverty win?"
>> Well, maybe I can start by adding one possible explanation to Jason's of why assessing the legacy of the war on poverty is difficult and some of that has to do with the expectations that were raised.  After his election in 1964, LBJ proclaimed that America was living in "The most hopeful times since Christ was born in Bethlehem."  Which is really raise expectations pretty high and I actually placed LBJ in the manger.  But--And there's the added to the expectations in the war on poverty when he said, "For the first time in history, it's possible to conquer poverty."  And the actual results as you you'd expect would be mixed.  I agree with the book on many things.  Medicare and Medicaid have to become part of the fabric of American life and some of the greatest social justice achievements in American history.  Arthur Brooks, the head of AEI now talks about how conservatives need to make peace with the safety net.  And I think that that's necessary.  The expansion of social security, you know, helped many elderly at food and nutrition programs.  You know, when I talk to conservative audiences I'll--you know, I admit.  You know, the SNAP program encourages dependents, dependents on food which is a different thing than other forms of dependent.  And--But of course there are things like AFDC where you had a democratic presidential candidate make--reforming it, the center--one of the center pieces of his campaign.  That shows how the shift has taken place.  And then you have the federal role in education which people haven't really mentioned here, which I don't blamed necessarily the federal for this, but education as a whole when it comes to social mobility and opportunities, one of the great scandals of American life, the way that poor children are betrayed and continue to be betrayed everyday in American schools.  That is certainly not a success by any measure.  And then there are some other elements that are such good ideas we keep trying to get them right like Head Start, where it can work in some cases and it doesn't work in other cases.  So what did we learned here?  I think if we know how to meet the needs on vast scale of millions of people, we don't know how to defeat poverty.  The war on poverty does not end poverty or prevent the economic isolation of the American cities, which was took place in this period.  And so we spend as a whole in the nation a trillion dollars on transfers every year.  We've got 40 some million people in poverty, that's not a causation but it's a cause for disappointment and missed opportunity and the call to reform.  So if you're making a judgment about the war on poverty in, let's say 1968 or 1972, it would have looked really good, the successes sort of look good.  But that progress ran into durable social problems that are not addressed by transfers.  As people talked about globalization, technology undermined decent paying blue collar jobs and you also had social trends that undermined family structure and community health.  And these are problems that are not rooted in the lack of consumption, but a lack of social capital on opportunity.  And those are complex problems.  So it left a significant problem for America, a dangerously stalled social mobility for a significant number of Americans, which is a threat to the American ideal.  And that requires the ideals and effort of the great society.  But the methods I think have to be very, very different.  And that's finding ways to improve the labor market, encourage to work, encourage workforce precipitations, but also finding ways to catalyze the essential role of private and civic institutions including families, religious institutions that give people the skills and values to succeed in the modern economy.  And so I think that's another area where some creativity is required.  And these task when you look at them, actually require both the liberals and conservatives to make contributions if our political system allows them.
>> Thank you very much.  I'm going to take a moment to ask the authors of this book and--
>> Sir excuse me just use the mic so everybody can hear you.
>> Good idea.  This is what happens to me when you have a print journal, forgetting the value--you're forgetting the value of microphones.  Let me ask Sheldon and Martha.  Now that you've heard the responses, is there anything [inaudible] that sticks out that you'd like to respond to?
>> No, I actually--I really appreciate the comments of our respondents and there's a lot of things they said that really resonate.  I specially like the idea that Jocelyn brought up saying that the war analogy, I think, has been problematic for a really long time.  But it's also very useful for thinking about the fact that the voices of the poor are something that's not always heard and there're lots of powerful interests fighting against change.  One of the most--the biggest pieces, I think, in this was--I think relates to the comments of one or the other panelist is that there was tremendous resistance to civil rights integration.  This was not a popular program.  This is something that got Johnson into a lot of trouble.  So these types of initiatives I think are tremendously useful and thinking about this as a war analogy, I've never like that much.  But I actually like your comment a lot thinking about how useful that is.  It's still something that I think is worth thinking about today.
>> Mr. Sheldon?
>> Just a couple of comments on the broad definition of the war on poverty that Martha and I emphasized in the book.  I don't think Jason was convinced.  But when he said, "Is it liberal slide of hand?"  And what we try to do in the book is to say Johnson sent out all of the broad goals in the January 8th speech, 50 years ago today.  And that's on Martha's second slide.  So, assisting the aged and disabled and improving the nation's health was front and center to the war on poverty.  There were 11 goals in the chapter, which accompanied the speech.  And so--And again, I agreed very much with some of the things that Michael was saying, improving labor markets was one of them.  So I think from the very beginning the--this broad definition was part of it.  I want to mention one thing on Kevin in consumption, and again, because of time.  What I didn't get to say 'cause I was--of the time limit was we went from a period in this golden age when a rising tide lifted all boats, when male earnings were the engine of economic growth to a period in which it's been the rising wages and work of women.  So the [inaudible] families are better off today, I'm not saying families are not better off today, that's also on that slide, is because women share a family income has made up for what one would have expected from male economic growth.  So, I certainly agree about consumption, inequality being less than income inequality.  And your implication is exactly right.  One of the reasons consumption inequality is higher is because spending on food from food stamps and spending on healthcare from Medicare and Medicaid are included.  But, in general, I appreciate the comments from all of the panelists and would agree that it would be a very optimistic time one would have to go back I think to the period of President Ford when conservatives and liberals sat down and tried to say, "How can we work together to solve the problems of poverty and an opportunity."  And Liberals would agree that there are some programs that could have gotten rid off and conservatives could agree that there are some programs in the safety net, I think you quoted the term "Make peace with the safety net," that have been very successful and how do we move forward.  And the key thing is how do we move forward to raise the wages and employment opportunities of those at the bottom of the labor market.  I love this is notion of private institutions.  It would be wonderful if there were private institutions that hired million of workers that would decide, "Oh, the casca model is a model that we want to follow."  And instead of having their workers rely on the public sector, they would raise the wages of private sector.  So I think that a lot of changes gone on not just in government programs but in the behavior of private employers.
>> Thank you.  I guess--
>> Clarence, can I have a minute?  Let me jump in just a second just to clarify.
>> As if I'm working with journalist on the panel.  Go ahead.
>> I should have said Martha and Sheldon provide a very detailed and persuasive explanation for what they include in the war on poverty.  I wasn't--I didn't mean to imply that I was criticizing [inaudible] included and saying that part of the reason you gets such a different verdicts about the war on poverty is different, constituencies have different programs in mind and there is no clear definition.  So the people who are attacking the war on poverty aren't attacking, I don't think for the most part, Medicare or student loans or nutrition programs they're attacking another set of programs.
>> Thank you for that clarification.  I like to zoom in on this issue of consumption for a moment without getting too wonky because if I knew anything about math I wouldn't have been journalism major.  I'll be very upfront about that.  But I'm going to ask Kevin to elaborate on the question of just what--whether there was been a consumption gap or not?  In other words, has consumption by the poor continued to--at a high pace despite the income gap?  There're been some questions by some other studies.  And this is probably gets wonky.  There were some studies that disagree with your finding in regard to the difference there.  And how do you feel about that?
>> Yeah, there are some discussion about whether the income is better measured than consumption and whether different subsets of the consumer expenditure survey are more accurate.  And if you sort of throw some stuff out, you can find measures of consumption that don't--where the consumption equality has increased more than you see if you use the broader measure that we use.  But I think that--again, if you look at the Council of Economic Advisers report yesterday and also like my discussion with Martha.  I think we all kind of concede that consumption inequality at the very least has increased a lot less than income inequality, maybe not much at all.  And I think that--but maybe not much at all part would be if you think that the measure the department and I chose which is a very broad measure, what was a good one.  One thing I wanted to say to add to the discussion that just happened, which is somewhat related to this is that I wanted to circle back a little bit to the idea that there's both been a kind of war on poverty and I agree that maybe using wars--I inviting people not to work together [inaudible] 'cause they, you know, care about poverty, if you're opposed to war on poverty, I don't know.  But I think that the war on inequality is a really relevant factor.  When you think about how can we spend a trillion dollars and then have 40 million left over still in poverty.  So if that's the way you want to ask the question.  Well, then, the obvious answer is just arithmetic is, well, you must be giving some of that money to people who don't need it, right, or to people who aren't the poor.  And if you think about, for example, President Bush's Prescription Drug Program, incredibly costly.  Present value of the cost of that was bigger than the present value of the cost of social security by the estimates at that time.  A lot of the beneficiaries of that are not people that are poor.  But it's very, very costly.  And I think that we--the war on poverty, one of the reasons why that it's something that, you know, maybe not be cost effective is that politicians of both parties have used expansions to kind of pandered to the median voter and win votes by offering benefits to people who aren't in the bottom decile.  And that--so we end up spending a trillion dollars a year, but a lot of that is not going for actually for war on poverty.
>> Well, as an old saying goes, one person's pandering is another person's relief.  The--I can say the same thing in regard to social security caps, the income caps for social security payments.  FDR imposed that so that it wouldn't be viewed as socialistic program.  In other words, everybody would pay the--up to a certain limit.  And right now the most popular social security reform, going to polls, is to lift the caps.  Yet the caps aren't being lifted.  So, in other words, politics gets into all of these to some degree.  Isn't that necessary sometimes to--or to build support for something like Medicare Part D?
>> Yeah, right.  So you couldn't have a drug program for everybody--I mean for just the poor.  So you need to have it for everybody and that's maybe the cost of that program.
>> Jocelyn, the--I'm sorry.  Michael, you want to respond to that?
>> No, I just want to add a point that's relevant there, another math point and I'm not an expert to the math either.  But there are some tensions within the legacy of the great society.  And one of them is in 1960 if you look into figures about the same percentage of domestic spending went to seniors as went to the young, right.  That by some measures right now is about three times the amount on seniors that we just spend on the young because we created these programs when you're not means tested Medicare and others.  And we're going to double the number of seniors by 2030.  And the math for politicians doesn't add up at some point.  You're straining everything else we want to do on equal opportunity particularly focused on the young with the direction of certain elements of the great society.  And so I think we're going to have to take those tensions seriously moving forward.  And we create strange political circumstance in which Democrats are often defending on systems that really often--that benefit white and many wealthy people while we're underfunding many of these other efforts that need to be emphasized, build equal opportunity in our society, particular for the young.  So I think there's a tension there.
>> A bit.  Speaking of politics, Jocelyn, having been a veteran of the Obama administration and the--our current Obamacare war, shall we say, that have been going on, a big question about whether the whole notion of government's ability to effectively respond to these massive social problems that's in question now at the same time that we're observing 50th anniversary of the war on poverty.  Do you think now is a good time where the whole notion of government remedies for a problem this vast?
>> Why, I think it's a critical time to really think about what role government can and should play.  And I think, you know, one of the lessons of the war on poverty is that government has an essential role to play because there are some things that only government can do, I mean, when you start talking about inequality in ensuring that everybody has an equal opportunity or fair chance to succeed in the workplace, for example.  And you think back to what we're really disseminule [phonetic] strategies put in place to accomplish that goal.  That was almost entirely government.  We would not have had the advancements for African-Americans and people of color and women in the workplace, absent, important, critical government strategies.  And then first, President Johnson and then subsequent administrations really making the investment to make those laws real.  So I think when you look at that history, it's clear that government has a critical role to play.  It doesn't mean that government is the only solution.  I think, you know, the president will say that now, I think President Johnson said it then.  And there clearly are a lot of other strategies that ought to be deployed at the same time.  It also doesn't mean that government is perfect.  Any change, particularly big change, whether you're talking about a war on poverty or health care or education is going to have some wins and some losses.  That's the essence of what, you know, any sort of, you know, tackling a big problem involves.  But you make adjustments and you get it right.  You don't abandon it.  You don't abandon programs that have fundamentally changed the lives of families.  You don't abandon something like healthcare that's critical to the ability of folks to be secure, you figure out what's not working and you fix it to make it better.  So I think, you know, looking at this current administration, there's a really important role for the administration to play and really tackling not only healthcare, but also making sure that everybody has an equal chance to achieve some level of economic stability for themselves and their families.
>> I like to ask the entire panel about the unexpected, or we say gender trends that have occurred over the last half century.  One has been called the feminization of poverty.  We can see more and more with single moms in particular.  And that whole debate surrounding that in regard to the role of family as a poverty fighter, and at the same time, how do you build family when you got a lack of jobs and the increase in poverty.  So that's one aspect.  The other is that, I think you touched on this Kevin, the fact that we're seeing out greater advances now for educated women in particular both in schools now in the--since the early '90s now entering freshmen.  Women in college are exceeding the performance of male students and being the father of a young male student disgust me quite personally.  But never--any case the--that issue and the fact that the structural changes in the economy have given an advantage to those who do behave well in classes.  I told my son and I show a real interest in education.  And so on the one hand, we're seeing women doing better than men on one level and on the other hand, women doing worst than men.  What does this tell us about our--the whole poverty issue as LBJ foresaw it and what we have seen as a reality of perhaps century?  And I'll get a response from anybody on this.
>> Well, I'll start.
>> Great.
>> But I'm sure others wanted to comment.  You know, I think, it's in many ways, it illustrates the point that Martha started out with which is the connection between poverty and equality.  Because the reality is, and this is still true, that when you look at earnings and wages and the types of jobs that women hold today, they are just proportionately a lower wage jobs and we still continue to have challenges around securing equal pay.  And so not surprisingly when you look at women who had households, you would see sort of disproportionate numbers around poverty.  And I can't remember who is, Martha or Sheldon, who made this point.  I think it's also illustrates the fact that conditions change.  Where we were 50 years ago is not where we are today.  That one of the big changes that happened was the influx of women into the workplace.  And so it required us thinking a little bit about, you know, how do we make sure that as that happens that women also have a fair shot.  So it's not simply a challenge around racial equality, it's also gender equality and putting laws in place that actually help us accomplish that as well.  So I think that dynamic is a perfect illustration of the continued need to have sort of a dual strategy that focuses on how do we make sure that the jobs the women are in actually pay decent wages but also how do we continue the investment and resources to make sure that they have a fair chance to succeed like everybody else.
[ Inaudible Remarks ]
>> Go ahead.
>> That in work in progress, it's a nice example of I think that it--that when we fight a war on poverty, we need to, you know, get all the generals in the room and be rational about what we're doing.  And I think that your discussion of the sort of decline family and the problems of that creates highlights work in progress that I'm working on now that can talk about how unintended design flaws can have seriously negative effects.  The Affordable Care Act has massive marriage penalties.  And so if you would take two people within comes of around 20,000 they each get Medicaid in many stage.  You have to go around from website to website to see 'cause the--what the prices are and what their [inaudible].  And so this is why it's still a work in progress 'cause the websites may or may not be correct and so on.  But if they get married and have a family income at 40,000 and they don't--and they have to buy insurance, or if they're in the subsidy range then subsidies also have marriage penalties.  And so the Affordable Care Act will have this side effect of at least encouraging people on paper to not get married because if they do, then there'll be a very, very high cost in terms of loss-benefits.  That kind of thing again that this Hamilton project event that I was at a few weeks ago is something that's kind of all over the place in our policies and I think that we need to be much more rational about how we want to align incentives to encourage family formation rather to discourage it.
>> See--it's--are you advocating a single payer system which wouldn't have those disincentives?
[ Inaudible Remark ]
>> So I'm going to circle back to the 1960s.  And one of the things that the Johnson administration really struggled with then, and this is evident in the Moynihan report and it sort of extend through--It's how to think about training women and getting them to work.  So some of the first human capital programs that they invested in, they didn't have any for women at all, they didn't even know how to think about training poor girls.  That wasn't part of the thing.  So it took lot of work to get them to even think about job training for young women.  Now this tension has continued and it's still the case now, the movement from welfare to workfare means that the people who are ended up strapped are the people--a lot of single mothers, as the matter of fact.  Now childcare is expensive, wages for these women are low.  And so moving them from the home in to work, I mean, has--there's obviously an important tension there.  If we're interested in increasing resources for kids, it's not clear at all that the financial resources for those kids are going to increase that their moms are actually paying a lot more for childcare.  On the other hand, we want to minimize the work disincentives.  This is actually an exercise that I give my student in my class, women in the economy.  How can we design a program without work disincentives that provides opportunities or increases resources for poor kids?  And the answer to the exercise is that it's almost impossible.  It's really, really difficult to come up with something that's going to work.  So the best suggestion that my students have come up with and some of you may think of is preschool programs that also double as childcare for a lot of these families.  But those are enormously expensive.  So I think that this is a problem, a tension that comes right out of the 1960s and it hasn't decreased as women's labor force participation has skyrocketed.
>> Good point.
>> There's something else I wanted to say.  I want to circle back to this idea that for programs to be poverty reducing, they have to be means tested.  And that was something that I really wanted to talk about, so coming to something that Mike said.  So one of the things I wanted to point out about Medicare is it's easy just to think about the fact that this is transferring a lot resources to people who could have paid for care in the first place.  But I think that that messes a lot of its important contributions.  So I talked about Medicare funded desegregation, right.  Medicare gives the federal government a lot of power to change things in hospitals, for instance, or in medical care if we like it to effect.  We also think Medicare, the availability of Medicare reduce the possibility of falling into poverty.  Think about the era before Medicare.  To retire, you lose your employer provided health insurance, right.  So you couldn't actually retire with any medical care.  And of course this is the moment in your life when you really need it.  So you couldn't retire.  And what happens then if you get too sick to work?  You also lose your health insurance in this era.  So who ends up providing care for a lot of the elderly and the l960s and before?  Their families.  Not only the families pay a lot for this medical care, but they also have their aging parent living with them and they're providing--of course, this is again women's work, a lot of the care taking in the home for these parents.  So a lot of these benefits are not quantified when we're thinking about the value of programs like Medicare.  But you can also think that there are much larger effective programs like that.  And the other thing that I highlighted is if you think about what happens when you free up those resources for lot of American families, they're not using the money to pay for their aging parents medical bills, instead they can use it for things like their kids, sending them to college and so on and so forth which reduces dependency on the other types of programs where we like to cut expenditures.  So there's a lot broader implications of a lot of this at the programs put into place in the 1960s than we might think.
>> Other way I wouldn't deny any of those implications.  I was making a fairly narrow physical point over the next 30 years.  As larger and larger percentages of our budgets have gone to none means tested entitlement.  It reduces our flexibility to invest in other areas.  And that's a public policy--
>> Right.
>> That's a measure of public policy priorities.  It's also by a way of measure of political power.
>> Right.
>> Children in America don't have effective lobbies in the same way that the elderly do.  And some of those needs are urgent and they require public policy.  And the flexibility to do that becomes much more limited overtime on the current path that we have for the percentage of our budget that goes to entitlement payment without dramatically increasing the percentage of our economy taking in taxes.
>> Great point.  We have come to the point in our program where you, the audience, got a chance to respond.  We have two microphones out here in the isle and we have folks with--will bring a mic to you for that matter.
>> Yeah.
>> If you will just [inaudible] from people who--implicates some questions earlier or should we just go directly to--we do have a couple of folks at the mic right now.  So [inaudible] you go ahead and then--
>> Sure.
>> --those of you who can't make it to the mic, you can hold up your hand and I'll be happy to call on you.
>> Thanks.  So exploring this war analogy, we know how difficult it is to fight two front wars and how that decreases the chance of success.  I was around in the 1960s, I know my memory at this age, maybe a little bit less, I seem to recall Lyndon Johnson talking about us being able to have guns and butter.  Sounds like a two-front war to me.  If we fought the war only in domestically and the war on poverty, do you think the outcome would have been different?
>> Good questions here.
>> I think there's a famous quote with expletives that I won't repeat, right, Lyndon Johnson basically to that effect.  It's saying that the war in Vietnam it start, I think the only woman he'd ever loved, which by that he meant his domestic war on poverty.
>> And most people would agree that Vietnam was what crashed his legacy in the end after all the massive social changes he had made domestically.  So we have a--anybody else want to respond or we have some other folks here.  Yes, ma'am.
>> Hi, I'm going to pull this over in part because it's Mr. Gerson I want to see and he's behind the pole.  So--
>> And who does that?
>> So I'm wondering if the panelist could talk about what you see as the vision for the next step in terms of, you know, setting goals and in particular why I wanted to talk to Mr. Gerson or wanted your response on this 'cause I think on an international scale there's a lot of interest and the goal of ending extreme poverty on the planet by 2030.  And do you see efforts aligning between the US and around the world?  Or just generally folks could talk about, you know, whether it's cutting poverty in half in 10 years or some other measure.  What's the next goal and how can we work towards that?
>> Michael, as Martin Luther King said, "Where do we go from here?"
>> Yeah.  Well, I hope those are not competitive priorities.  That's the--That's some of the difficulty when you look at where Americans would like to cut federal spending.  They put at the top international aid.  But the way they put third, extending unemployment insurance, which is not very popular, I wouldn't have expected that.  But it's, you know, globally we've made extraordinary gains against extreme poverty over the last 20 years and the extraordinary gains on global health.  And, you know, they--some of this is I would say a restoration of appropriate confidence in effective outcome based government.  OK.  And I think both sides ideologically need to contribute to that.  You define ways to say, there are circumstances in which government can identify problems and solve them in modest ways while minimizing unintended consequences.  I personally, I won't go into it.  I think that international aid we've seen that in many ways, providing aids, drugs for millions of people, doing serious work on malaria or a long-term develop and other things.  And of course we need long-term development in the United States as well.  And so I hope those aren't competitive priorities.  They are often seen that way.  But I think they're related whether you believe that government can take limited effective outcome-based action.
>> This study did mention that the geographic impact, which was touched on earlier and that we as poor folks are these days, they're better off than poor folks were a hundred years ago, or they're better off then poor folks were--are in the third world, et cetera.  Are we asking too much of our antipoverty efforts here in this country?  Jason?
>> It--I just want to make a quick follow up to Michael's point.  I spent most of my time as a journalist working on domestic policy, but spent a little time dabbling in the world of international poverty.  And I've been struck by the difference in the optimism level of the two communities.  You know, if you--I think the domestic poverty conversation is--has this kind of overhang of trying to explain why disappointment were as in the international context, it's a--the surprise I think is that things move, as Michael said in the last 20 years in many ways rapidly in the positive directions.  I'm not sure where to--what to make of it.  But it is definitely a different tone in the conversation.
>> Great.
>> And I like Michael's phrase, what was it?  Appropriate outcome based--the restoration of confidence and appropriate outcome based government or you got a sense that--you know, you get a sense that something can be done in a way that you don't often get that sense in this domestic conversation.
>> I [inaudible] serve is we're better at catch phrases, so there Michael, we'll work on that one.  Jocelyn?
>> You know, I just wanted to respond to the question, because I think we get caught up in a lot of the division around the war in poverty rather than focusing on where there's commonality and agreement.  And one of the things that strikes me the most about the war on poverty is that, you know, it was a big vision to end the war on poverty is an enormous goal.  And it seems to me there's no reason why we can't set a big goal today whether it's cutting poverty in half in 10 years or some other equality ambitious goal.  The worst thing that can happen hopefully is that--maybe you don't get there.  But, you know, you make some progress and I think it's incumbent upon us to set a big goal.  And to think about how we can work together and to learn from the mistakes of the past.  But I think it's important to set a big goal and then to talk about all the different components to making that goal a reality, education, healthcare, employment, all those pieces working together.  But, you know, this is an important time.  And I think we have an opportunity to actually do some important things.
>> Another question from the audience?
>> Can I just add here because this discussion of setting a goal reminds me of Tony Blair?  And I would refer people to Russell Sage Foundation Book by Jane Waldfogel called "Britain's War on Poverty" because he basically declared war on poverty in a President Johnson style speech, set the government to do it and cut poverty, child poverty in half by Britain in ten years.  So it's possible.  Now, they have a very different system when you control parliament, you can do what you want, but the conservative government hasn't turned around and rolled back most of those aspects.  So if one wanted to look at what would be a modern view for America, I think Tony Blair's war on poverty is a good example.
>> Yes, sir?
>> Yes.  I was just going to say, Sheldon's chart on median income and the gap between male and female really jumped out at me.  And Jocelyn, you did talk to it a little bit.  But given that, you know, the--that there is a gap between--well, we don't have equal pay for women and that's clear.  If we fix that given how many households are led by women, you know, what kind of dent would that put in poverty?
>> So I--I'll say something about that.  So part of the gap between men and women is that they have different skills, right.  So there's about 20--you know, women make about 80 percent of what men do on average and I think that's that what you're showing.  So part of that is the skill gap.  And some of that scale gap reflects women making different choices about how much they want to invest in their career's business family.  But the other part is something that we could certainly work a remedy and I think it's been changing, though the conversion in the gender gap is really stalled in the last decade.
>> Yeah.  Let me just add to that.  You know, my personal experience having been kind of like a baby in the war--during the war on poverty, I was able to--because of a lot of things that happen.  I entered IBM in like 1976 and I will you that they had to adjust my salary three times across my career all the way up to 1990 because of inequities.  And that the issue there is it's a one time shot.  So the cumulative impact there is not even noted.  I see the same thing happening with women right now.
>> I think that's an excellent point and that's part of what I was going to say.  I mean, there clearly are--you know, there's a lot of conversation you could have about the pay gap and why the pay gap exists and what it looks like.  I think that, you know, the data that I've seen is that even when you control for things like differences in education and others, seniority, experience, there's still, you know, a gap and I think that's the point that you're raising.  And if you look at research like research has been done by the Institute for Women's Policy Research that the issue was not simply the gap that occurs, you know, at the start of your career but how that builds overtime.  And that eventually, you know, I think they says it's 300 of 400,000 dollars in terms of income overtime and then that impacts not only what you've earn but also your retirement.  So I think it efforts to correct the pay gap would go a long way towards creating greater economic stability for families generally because the other dynamic is that women increasingly are the sole or primary breadwinners in their families.  You know, CAP has done research on, you know, 4 and 10 families now, women are the sole or primary breadwinners.  So it's not simply a women's issue, it's a family issue in overall economic issue.  So, you know, I think again, it's sort of a--shows very vividly the connection between poverty and equality because not withstanding the loss that we have in place around equal pay.  If you ask women, they will tell you that one of the cap things--challenges they face is equal pay.  And from my perspective, we shouldn't be focusing on whether or not there's a pay gap, whether or not, you know, we have challenges around equal pay.  We should be focusing on how can we ensure better enforcement, how can we ensure that we make sure that when--that folks just have a fair chance, and what sort of steps can we make sure--we can put in place to make sure that when women apply for jobs that they're being offered the same sort of salaries as their male counterparts.  How do we give women better information?  How can we create greater transparency in salary so that there's not, you know, the led better phenomenon, finding out 20 years later you're being paid last for decades and then somebody secretly gives you a note?  I mean, these are sort of things that are, you know, sort of no-brainers, we spend a lot of time debating.  But there ought to be a way to give people better information to make sound choices so that at least they have a fair chance to be paid fairly for their work.
>> Thank you.
>> We have two more people at mic--[inaudible] more insight.  Yes, ma'am?
>> Hi.  One of the panelists referred to poverty today not knowing wanting to go back to the poverty 50 years ago in that type of poverty.  And yet when you look at the fact that poor people have--or consumer is just like the whole country is, they buy things and yet they ingest empty calories and then end up with obesity and those types of problem, how do you then talk or explain that kind of thing about a, well, the poverty isn't the same.  I think people in some ways more healthy and we do have a health system that keeps even people with diabetes and all those kinds of things with medicines to keep them alive, yet, well, we didn't have them 50 years ago.  So how--it's hard for me then to understand the statement that was made on that.
>> You worked in that program [inaudible] obesity program, didn't you?
>> I did.
>> Yeah.
>> I did.
>> Well, how you feel about that?
>> Well, I mean, I would say I feel very strongly that it's an important initiative and one that did a couple of things and importantly sort of talked about not only health from a poverty perspective but also the health of kids more broadly and has made an important contribution to continuing this progress that was beginning but hadn't quite materialized around reducing child obesity.  I think one of the interesting things about her initiative is that it makes clear the connection between health and nutrition and poverty and doesn't talk about them as mutual exclusive things but also makes clear that health shouldn't just be the problems of people who have resources.  You know, one of the first things that we did in 2009 is we went to a soup kitchen here called Miriam's Kitchen that focuses on healthy eating to make the point that having access to healthy food was something that shouldn't be exclusively for folks have resources to buy nice expensive organic food.  But is something that is inextricably linked to, you know, our nation's values around human integrity.  So I think that those things are incredibly important today and are important investments to make.
>> Another question or comment.  Yes, sir?
>> Yes.  So as you tell from my accent, the Tony Blair example is a helpful one to hear.  Having just being kind of part of that debate in the UK, one of the things we learned with kind of some of new labor's policies around the new deal for kind of youth unemployment and things like that was there a--because poverty is ultimately a personal thing, there were people components of poverty that can't really be fixed by government and the government isn't necessarily the best to address.  So one of the things was soft skills, looking at those things like conflict resolution, punctuality and things to employ, or say they desperately need that actually values to employment that are far harder to--I mean, you could pass a law saying everyone needs to be on time.  But I think that would be a bit more challenging.  So my question is really when we think about poverty and the people component of poverty, what are, if any, of the ways that government can actually help kind of create a climate for other people forming institutions to be able to address poverty more effectively, doing things that may be there are better place to do within government might be, though recognizing government has an important role in kind of creating that climate?
>> A very good question.  That--go ahead.
>> This is something that I've been working a lot and going back to this work that folks might have seen that I have been doing on work sharing that there are a lot of innovative programs in other countries that try to encourage private entrepreneurs to enter with this sort of creative spirit into the space.  In Germany if the government job training programs have failed you for a year and you still don't have a job, then you're eligible for a program where private firms can jump in and try to help you find a job.  And if they succeed by a metric where you're getting a paycheck for an established amount of time, then they get a big cash bonus.  And I think that thinking about, again, if you look at the terrible evaluations that we've seen in the academic literature of the job training programs that we have in the US, I think that that kind of--copying that kind of program is a key area of opportunity going forward.
>> We are almost out of time.  So, let's make this a wrap up question here.  Michael, [inaudible].
>> Sure.  I think if you look at the material that Robert Putnam is talking about and talking about gap--the gaps that caused many of these gaps of opportunity, they're direct gaps of parental time and investment gaps and social trust gaps and community involvement gaps and religious participation, all which predict problems for mobility in the future.  And those are--have to be solved by mediating institutions.  I think the real question is whether you can have as a supplement to government doing its job in a variety of areas, which is absolutely essential.  Whether it can find creative ways to involve other value-based institutions in society help address these, catalyze to essentially encourage roles that it can't do very well itself.  And that I think is an area where I hope, you know, Marco Rubio is speaking on a new war on poverty this afternoon, conservatives have began a more virtuous competition on these ideas.  Maybe that's an area where conservatives can contribute to this debate in a substantive way.
>> An idea.  Jason, you want to add to that--contribute--what was--especially in terms of the political debate right now, do you think we're moving toward some kind of a new consensus where new conservatives like Michael are coming together with--to update the old LBJ agenda?
>> I'm no expert on where conservatives are going in their debate about poverty.  But my impression will be no.  What I hear from Michael sounds very different from what I hear from House Republicans.
>> It's very different from House Rebulicans.
[ Laughter ]
Maybe what we need, Michael, is a consensus among Republicans first.
>> Well, I mean the opportunity though is the 2016 election because the dynamics of a national appeal on the common good are very different from the congressional dynamics of, you know, districts that are, you know, predominantly either conservative or liberal and sorted in a kind of nonproductive way.  That's always been, thing, the situation.  So, that's my hope.  You know, you had Bill Clinton campaigning on the new covenant, talking about responsibility and opportunity.  We, in 2000, marked [phonetic] by compassion and conservatism and trying to involve mediating institutions in drug treatment or, you know, other things.  There is a space here for an appeal to their common good by either left or right that takes into account these lessons of the great society.
>> Kevin as a [inaudible], you know, three campaigns a presidential--what presidential campaigns [inaudible]?  Well, that's true.  I lost count.  But you see looking forward here and hope for that sort of a consensus nationally?
>> I think that quickest way to spend about our time to answer that question is go back and look at President Obama's speech right after he won the Iowa caucus, compare it to a typical [inaudible] speech of President Bush when he was talking about compassion and conservatism.  And you'll see that there were many, many themes that were quite common between the two speeches and I think that having an ear for what Americans want to hear, was a gift that both successful politicians had.  They won two presidential elections.  My guess is that who ever wins the next one will go back to the themes that they played, which is similar to the things that Michael is talking about.  And it's not necessarily--there's a lot of pressure for that in congressional races.  But at the national level I think that we've got four elections in a row where people who played to those themes won.
>> Thank you.  Jocelyn, you see hope and change in the future for our presidential camp--for our presidential debate in 2016 on the poverty issue in particular?
>> Well, I'm always positive about hope in change.  I like those terms.  You know, I think I'm cautiously optimistic within being very cognizant of the point that Jason raised about the current politics.  But, you know, I think there's a lot of opportunity of folks of good will in all sides of isles to really think critically about the issues that we're talking about.  And to me the--you know the opportunity is to create the space for the conversation.  And I go back to the point that Martha alluded to earlier, a lot of the progress that we're talking about on the war on poverty, they were not safe choices.  They were difficult choices.  They created controversy, particularly around challenges, around racial equality.  And so I think it will be true that as we talk about different programmatic responses that there will be a strong opposition.  And so what we've need to do collectively and together is to create a safe space for people to have those conversations.  You know, when people, you know, go against the--perhaps the prevailing mood of their party or folks on their side of the isles that there's still a safe space to talk about how do we actually invest in kids and well income families and ensure the safety net that we not abandon all of those things that have helped make progress.  So, you know, with that understanding, I'm always optimistic.
>> Thank you.  I want to invite Michael Laracy, the director of the Annie E. Casey Foundation Policy Reform Advocacy, please give us your closing remarks--
>> Thank you Clarence.
>> Thank you so much for having us.
>> You know, when we start planning this about four, five months ago, I had pretty high expectations.  I thought this could be important and significant.  And this panel has really exceeded all my expectations.  We saw this was an opportunity to reevaluate, revisit America's most notable effort to reduce poverty and promote opportunity and to learn lessons, see how we can guide our future policy, I presume.  I think the book which is really quite good.  Really buy it.  It's well worth it.  And this discussion achieved that the expense of the consensus here among some very diverse people, politically, was striking.  And the areas of disagreement were illuminating and I think important.  You know, when there was disagreement, I think it was consequential and significant.  So, you know, you really exceeded all the expectations and I had high ones knowing almost all of you well.  I wan to put a word in about one of the project, this effort's cosponsors Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity, it's a platform designed to highlight the challenges that vulnerable members of our society face and to try to cultivate the type of bipartisan cross ideological discussion that we're having today and focused on solution.  Spotlight is managed by CLASP, the Center for Law and Social Policy, and staff ran by the Freedman Consulting group, the Hatcher group, and N.A.K TV.  We've been at this--Spotlight has been had it for about six years now.  And, you know, we tag ourselves as the "Source for News, Ideas and Action".  And I think we've seen in this period a lot of progress.  I agree with the source of consensus here this afternoon that a lot has been changed, I followed the newspapers everyday.  And anybody who gets my emails every morning knows it.  And I really have seen a significant change in the recent months in the discussion around poverty and opportunity and I don't think that's an accident, I think there's a lot work the people at these days are doing and a lot of other folks in this room I see--you know, I see a lot of people contributing to that.  So I'm optimists.  I am very optimistic about what's going to be happening in the next couple of years for [inaudible] be with congress.  I think we really be in great shape.  I want to acknowledge and thank our two cosponsors, the National Poverty Center at the University of Michigan's Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and its Director of Communications, Laura Lee and of course Dean Susan Collins.  I want to acknowledge and thank the Russell Sage Foundation, especially its fantastic new President, Sheldon, and its Director of Communications, David Haproff.  And I'd like to thank all the panelists here today.  Clarence, thank you so much for coming out.  And the authors of the sections in this book really did made some wonderful contributions.  And of course I want to thank all of you for coming out and being part of this discussion.  It's a discussion that's going to be ongoing.  And one way to be part of it is to visit spotlightonpoverty.org and engage in the discussions there.  We offer exclusive commentaries from folks, the left and the right.  We are a portal to everything that's happening on poverty and opportunity.  So it's a good way to keep informed and be part of what I think will be a very exciting year.  So, thanks again and let's stay in touch.
>> Thank you.