You'll hear a lot of Republicans claiming that they don't hate poor people and do want to reduce poverty—they just happen to think that all the things the United States currently does to reduce poverty and help poor people are wrong. It's not that they want people to go hungry, they say, it's just that food stamps make people dependent, by taking away their incentive to forage through dumpsters, we can only guess. (After all, most people on food stamps either work or fall into groups we don't expect to work, like children, senior citizens, and disabled people.) But as the graph above shows, the safety net dating back 50 years to the War on Poverty does work, despite the giant holes Republicans have cut in it.
Zachary Goldfarb, though, makes the case for a terrible failure of the War on Poverty:
... to the degree that the War on Poverty should have led U.S. companies to pay their workers adequate wages and prompted sufficient enough demand to ensure full employment, the war has been a failure. If you return to the interactive chart above, and click on "poverty rate without the safety net," you'll see that 28.7 percent of the country would be in poverty today without government policies to help them -- actually higher than it was 50 years ago.Of course, in the early years of the War on Poverty, the minimum wage increased steadily, reaching an inflation-adjusted high of more than $10.50 an hour in 1968. Since then, it's declined, falling below the equivalent of $8.00 an hour (in 2012 dollars) in the early 1980s and never getting back to that level since. That leads to what we see now, with employees of hugely profitable corporations forced to rely on government assistance because Walmart and Target and McDonald's and Papa John's don't pay enough for even full-time workers to survive.
And so, in that sense, it's hard to say we've won the War on Poverty when nearly 1 in 3 Americans lacks, without the government's help, the sustenance necessary to meet the basic needs of life.