Poverty in America is rising to levels not seen since the 1960s. But instead of offering solutions for America's poor, President Obama and GOP challenger Mitt Romney are focusing their campaign efforts on the middle class.
The Associated Press surveyed more than a dozen economists, think tanks and academics, both nonpartisan and those with known liberal or conservative leanings, and found a broad consensus: The official poverty rate will rise from 15.1 percent in 2010, climbing as high as 15.7 percent. Several predicted a more modest gain, but even a 0.1 percentage point increase would put poverty at the highest level since 1965. For a family of four, that means living on $23,000 a year.
In the nearly 50 years since President Johnson declared a war on poverty, what have we learned about what works and what doesn't when it comes to ending poverty in America? What would experts and advocates like to see and hear from Obama and Romney?
Peter Edelman, professor of law at Georgetown University and faculty director of the Center on Poverty, Inequality, and Public Policy, will join The Daily Circuit Thursday. He's also the author of "So Rich, So Poor: Why It's So Hard to End Poverty in America."
An excerpt from his book:
As long as middle-income voters think they have more in common with the people at the top than the people at the bottom, we are cooked. The question of jobs that produce enough income so people can live comfortably is an issue that cuts across a huge swath of the population. The question of how to deliver quality (and, after high school, affordable) education so that everyone is prepared for the best job they have the capacity to hold is an issue that confronts a substantial majority. The challenge is to get people in the middle to understand which side of the line they are on. If they continue to believe that social mobility is realistically available for themselves and their children the way things are playing out, they will be much less likely to do what they have to do to protect themselves, let alone sympathize with people down the line. The people have the power if they will use it, but they have to see that it is in their interest to do so.
Oleta Garrett Fitzgerald, director of the Children's Defense Fund's southern regional office, will also join the discussion.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
People in the middle class identify more with the rich.
VIDEO: Peter Edelman on fighting poverty
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