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EIB WEB PAGE DISGRONIFIER

LBJ'S War on Poverty and Reagan's Retort

BEGIN TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: I mentioned in the previous hour that I'm reading this book on LBJ, fourth in a series. It's a biography by Robert Caro. Now, to Doris Kearns Goodwin and a bunch of Democrat biographers, LBJ was the absolute greatest. He was the most wonderful Senate majority leader, absolutely the most wonderful, greatest president -- even rivaling JFK.  They just marvel at him, and one of the reasons why is, from what I can gather... Great Society, of course. War on Poverty, of course. The Civil Rights Act of 1964, of course. All this transformative legislation that built on the New Deal. 

But they also love LBJ because he was mean.  LBJ, you remember the pictures... Well, you may not.  He had a couple of beagles, and there were pictures of LBJ picking these dogs up by their ears when they were misbehaving or some such thing. He took a little grief for that, and that was before PETA even existed.  But he was admired because, "He was so mean, so forceful.  He didn't take any guff from anybody! He told people what was gonna happen and he made it happen!" 

Anybody like that today, even a Democrat... Well, I take it back.  A Democrat like that today would be fawned over. That's true.  So I thought what we would do is go back to our archives and give you a side-by-side illustration of LBJ talking about his War on Poverty/Great Society  and Ronald Reagan at the same time, 1964, reacting to it.  We'll start out with LBJ first.  January 8, 1964. This is his State of the Union Address.  This is a period of time that's covered extensively, by the way, in Robert Caro's latest book on LBJ.

It's basically the seven weeks, the 49 days from the assassination of Kennedy through the State of the Union Address, which was January 8 that year.  Johnson's reelection was his first election as president after the Kennedy assassination.  It was a profound period.  This is where Johnson did everything. In these 49 days, he settled all the scores. He got even with all the people that told him he was never gonna matter a hill of beans. He got even with Robert Kennedy, who hated him (and he hated Robert Kennedy), and so forth. 

But that's not really relevant here to the sound bites.  The sound bites start off with LBJ and his War on Poverty...

LBJ:  This administration today, here and now, declares unconditional War on Poverty in America.

CONGRESS: (applause)

LBJ:  It will not be a short or easy struggle, no single weapon or strategy will suffice, but we shall not rest until that war is won.  The richest nation on earth can afford to win it.  We cannot afford to lose it.  One thousand dollars invested in salvaging an unemployable youth today can return $40,000 or more in his lifetime.

RUSH:  Now, that War on Poverty is still being waged.  We haven't made a dent.  There has been easily $4 trillion transferred. It may be higher now. Oh, gosh, it's gotta be higher than that what with Obama. My gosh, it may be double that.  Eh, we'll stick with $5 trillion. It's a good number. It's gotta be close. We've spent $5 trillion of redistribution of wealth from producers to the poor to eradicate poverty, and the percentages are still the same.  Now, we have a very different definition of "poverty" here than, say, in the Third World or even in Europe. 

People in "poverty" here have a car, a couple TV sets, but everything's relative and so we stick with it.  But that's big government building on the New Deal to wipe out poverty. And how about this number: $1,000 "invested"? That means taxes. "One thousand dollars invested in salvaging an unemployable youth today can return $40,000 or more in his lifetime," except what's happened?  Now people are on unemployment for 99 weeks!  They don't go to work, and then with the Obama administration there aren't any new jobs being created for them to go to work or to even apply to. 

Here's the next sound bite from LBJ from his State of the Union Address, January 8, 1964.

LBJ:  Lack of jobs and money is not the cause of poverty, but the symptom.  The cause may lie deeper in our failure to give our fellow citizens a fair chance to develop their own capacities.  In a lack of education and training. In a lack of medical care and housing. In a lack of decent communities in which to live and bring up their children. Our joint federal-local effort must pursue poverty. Pursue it wherever it exists: In city slums and small towns, in sharecropper shacks or in migrant worker camps, on Indian reservations -- among whites as well as Negroes, among the young as well as the aged, in the boomtowns and in the depressed areas.

RUSH:  Yeah, it was "Negroes" back then. (interruption) It didn't sound like "Negroes" to you?  Let's play it again.  I knew this was gonna grab Snerdley's attention. I knew this was gonna get you. I knew this sound bite would because it doesn't sound like he says "Negroes."  That's what's in the transcript.  Before we play it again, let me just ask you: Does it all sound familiar to you, folks?  This is 1964!  This is 50-plus years ago! And it's the same rhetoric, the same complaints, the same excuses, and the same "solutions."

Of course, what causes poverty? What's the point of his statement here?  America's unfairness, fundamental unfairness.  "Lack of jobs and money is not the cause of poverty, but the symptom.  The cause may lie deeper in our failure to give our fellow citizens a fair chance to develop their own capacities." Our failure! We are discriminating against our fellow citizens.  It's the same rhetoric! It's the same class warfare rhetoric, and it's the same "solution." Obama is talking the identical thing today, just on an even grander scale. 

But note: It's 50 years that we've had the War on Poverty (LBJ's signature program) and the Great Society, and the problem is as bad as ever expressed as a percentage.  Liberalism doesn't work! The War on Poverty didn't work! The Great Society didn't work!  We're not allowed to say that.  No, no, no, no!  Can't say that!  We're supposed to credit LBJ's big heart.  We're supposed to credit his big, wonderful good intentions.  But if he'd been CEO of a company, and it instituted this plan to grow the company and make it profitable and so forth?

He'd have been long gone, and this method would have been forever buried. 

Okay here, play the sound bite again.  Snerdley in particular here is very interested in it.  (replaying of sound bite) Okay, Snerdley. (interruption) What?  What did he say?  (interruption) He did.  You're right.  He did.  Snerdley is right.  He didn't say "Negroes."  (interruption) He did.  He did say it as Snerdley is saying it to me.  He did not say "Negroes."  He did not say the N-word. We're not saying he said the N-word. He had a very relaxed, almost lazy pronunciation of the word "Negroes." In the place of an "E" there was an "I."  I'll spell it the way he pronounced it: n-i-g-g-r-a-h-s.  That's how he pronounced it. 

Now we move on, ladies and gentlemen, to Ronaldus Magnus some months later. This is October 27, 1964, Ronald Reagan's televised speech in support of Barry Goldwater, a speech entitled: "A Time for Choosing."

REAGAN:  We have so many people that can't see a fat man standing beside a thin one without coming to the conclusion the fat man got that way by taking advantage of the thin one. So they're gonna solve all the problems of human misery through government and government planning.  Well, now, if government planning and welfare had the answer -- and they've had almost 30 years of it -- shouldn't we expect government to read the score to us once in a while?  Shouldn't they be telling us about the decline each year in the number of people needing help, the reduction in the need for public housing? But the reverse is true.  Each year the need grows greater; the program grows greater.

RUSH:  Right.  And a new program is needed to fix what didn't work in the first program! Government breaks it; government fixes it. Breaks it, fixes it, and the cycle never ends.  And here we are 50 years later, and we are still "fixing" it.  It will never work! The New York Times.  Listen to this, September 13th of last year.  Quote: "The number of Americans living below the official poverty line, 46.2 million people, was the highest number in the 52 years the Bureau has been publishing figures on it."  The War on Poverty was begun 48 years ago. 

The New York Times says that last year was the highest ever since they've been keeping records (52 years) of number of Americans living below the poverty line.  LBJ's War on Poverty made it worse.  The New York Times admits it. The evidence is in the War on Poverty! Taking from producers and sending to government for redistribution never works.  It isn't fair. It doesn't solve anything. It doesn't grow the economy. It doesn't create jobs. It doesn't get people out of poverty.  It never has.  And for those of you who are new to this program who may be young and never heard of LBJ or have never heard LBJ -- or have heard of him and never heard him speak -- this is 1964. It's 48, 50 years ago. 

It doesn't work. 

All this idealism, everything your college professors tell you, doesn't work. 

It's demonstrably failed! We're living amidst the failure!

Here is more from Ronaldus Magnus of the same speech.

REAGAN:  We were told four years ago that 17 million people went to bed hungry each night.  Well, that was probably true. They were all on a diet.

AUDIENCE: (laughter)

REAGAN: But now we're told that 9.3 million families in this country are poverty stricken on the basis of earning less than $3,000 a year.  Welfare spending is ten times greater than it was in the dark depths of the Depression.  We're spending $45 billion on welfare.  Now, do a little arithmetic and you'll find that if we divided the $45 billion up equally among those nine million poor families, we'd be able to give each family $4,600 a year, and this added to their present income should eliminate poverty. 

AUDIENCE: (laughter)

REAGAN: Direct aid to the poor, however, is only running about $600 per family.  It would seem that someplace there must be some overhead. 

AUDIENCE: (laughter)

RUSH:  Back in the eighties, the administrative cost on $1 of welfare was 28¢. Meaning for every $1 of welfare, 72¢ got to the recipient and 28¢ ended up funding government. It's probably worse now.  That's what Reagan was talking about.  It's further evidence it doesn't work! It never has worked. One final bite from Reagan...

REAGAN:  So now we declare "war" on poverty.  Do they honestly expect us to believe that if we add $1 billion to the $45 billion we're spending, one more program to the 30-odd we have -- and, remember, this new program doesn't replace any; it just duplicates existing programs. Do they believe that poverty is suddenly going to disappear by magic?  Yet any time you and I question the schemes of the do-gooders, we're denounced as being against their humanitarian goals.  They say we're always against things, we're never for anything.  Well, the trouble with our liberal friends is not that they're ignorant. It's just that they know so much that isn't so.

AUDIENCE: (applause)

RUSH:  And we will be right back.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Lantana, Texas.  Scott, it's great to have you on the program.  Hi.

CALLER:  Hi, Rush.  Great honor, sir.

RUSH:  Thank you very much.

CALLER:  If you go back to the original leftists -- you know, a hundred-plus years ago -- they're always talking about how profit is evil and it's actually an economic cost that needs to be recaptured and spread out, so to speak.  Well, if you take a look at the Great Society -- and you mentioned some data in the past hour about how 72¢ of every $1 comes out of the federal bureaucracy and 28¢ stays in.

RUSH:  No, it's the other way around.  That was in the eighties when 28¢ stayed with the government and 72¢ went to the recipient, but I'll bet you it's much worse today.

CALLER:  I will bet it is as well.  I'd like to point out that the 28¢ on every $1 staying with the, quote, unquote, "bureaucracy" in Washington is a whole lot more inefficient than the 1¢ or 2¢ that ExxonMobil is getting right now.

RUSH:  Well, yeah. (laughing) That's a theft profit to boot.

CALLER:  Exactly.

RUSH:  They don't have to do anything well.  All they gotta do is take the money. All they've gotta do is collect the deductions.  By the way, an interesting thing you mentioned.  You talk about going back to "the original leftists."  Who is that?

CALLER:  Well, it depends on how far you want to go. But if you talk about Lenin, Stalin, Trotsky, you can go back to the 1900s.

RUSH:  Oh, you gotta go farther back than that.

CALLER:  Yeah, you go back to the Fabian Society. Actually you can probably go back as far as the Garden of Eden, Cain and Abel.  Cain didn't like the profits that Abel was getting, even though they probably weren't registered in monetary value. He wanted that spread around as well.

RUSH:  Well, that's interesting: The Original Leftist.  Find out who this guy is and string him up.  The Original Leftist. There has to be one. (interruption) Yeah, Leftist One. Not Leftist Two, not Leftist Three. Leftist One.  It would be great to ID him. Now, you know that the wackos try to say it's Jesus. (interruption)  Well, they do! They try to claim it. (interruption) Snerdley, what do you mean?  Every Christmas, homelessness is said to contain perhaps the next Mary and Joseph. 

They say that Mary and Joseph are just like the homeless. They were wandering around and they couldn't find an inn. They didn't have any money, and they didn't guarantee their reservation with their American Express Card. They had no place to stay. (interruption) They do.  They invoke Jesus when they need it.  But I wouldn't say Jesus is Leftist One.  But there is one.  The caller said, "Go back to the original leftists," and it just inspired a thought as to who is The Original Leftist?

That would be a great assignment for some college student. 

Go back in history and find The Original Leftist. 

END TRANSCRIPT

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