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Obama targets poverty in US 'promise zones'

By Roberta Rampton

(Reuters) - President Barack Obama is set to speak on Thursday about how he will target job creation, housing, law enforcement and education in the poorest U.S. communities, part of his pledge to narrow the gap between rich and poor in America.

Obama signaled last month that he plans a new focus this year on income inequality, which he called "the defining challenge of our time", pushing to raise the minimum wage and find new ways to help poor children break out of the cycle of poverty.

As part of this effort, Obama will create "promise zones" in San Antonio, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, southeastern Kentucky, and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, the White House said on Wednesday.

The announcement came on the 50th anniversary of a pledge by former President Lyndon Johnson to wage a "war on poverty."

'Promise Zone' in LA to Receive Up to $500 Million in Aid

Johnson's pledge led to programs like Medicare, Medicaid, social security, food stamps, and Head Start preschool education programs.

Since 1967, poverty rates have fallen from close to 26 percent down to 16 percent, the White House said. In 2012, 49.7 million of Americans lived in poverty, including 13.4 million children.

"In the richest nation on Earth, far too many children are still born into poverty, far too few have a fair shot to escape it, and Americans of all races and backgrounds experience wages and incomes that aren't rising," Obama said in a statement marking the anniversary of Johnson's pledge.

Obama will make his formal announcement about the "promise zones" at 2 p.m. EST on Thursday.

He first spoke about the plan in his 2013 State of the Union speech, almost a year ago, pledging to focus government funding with private sector programs in 20 communities to create jobs, improve schools, beef up public safety, and create better housing.

The plan called for tax incentives for businesses that invest in impoverished neighborhoods and hire local people, and is modeled after a program run by the city of San Antonio.

Obama has also said he will push to increase the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, up from $7.25, an effort unlikely to succeed because of opposition from Republicans in Congress.

Democrats have taken up the cause ahead of the 2014 midterm elections. Polls show Americans view Republicans as less compassionate toward the poor.

Obama and Democrats have also pushed to extend an expiring program that provides benefits to people out of work -- something Republicans have resisted because of the cost.

But this week, Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida and Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, both potential White House contenders, plan major events describing their ideas for addressing poverty.

(Additional reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Doina Chiacu and Rosalind Russell)

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ruby_payne3 January 10 2014 at 7:54 PM

This week marks the 5oth anniversary of the war on poverty which has sparked a small media frenzy and many musings on what has worked or not worked in this ongoing battle. I have been on the front lines of this war for over 2o years and have strong opinions on how the war will be won.

One of the reasons that poverty has never been successfully addressed is because there is no agreement on causation. All disciplines move through three stages – classification (where things are named), to correlation (how they work together), and then to causation. In the research on poverty, there are four distinct research bases on poverty – behaviors of the individual, resources of the community (jobs), exploitation (racism, sexism, pay day lenders, etc) and political and economic systems.

These research bases have been politicized. If you are on the political right, you think it is about the first two research bases (individual behaviors and jobs). If you are on the political left, you think it is about the last two research bases (exploitation and systems). The truth is that it is about all four. And if legislation only addresses one research base, it typically does not work.

Read more about the how to win the war at: http://www.ahaprocess.com/blog/aha-process-thoughts-50th-anniversary-war-poverty/. Or enlist in the fight by visiting www.ahaprocess.com.

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jody_martin1 January 10 2014 at 7:14 PM


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tfpisan January 09 2014 at 1:21 PM

without a doubt this president is so lost. he jumps from one thing to another with no plan. Trying to mave everyone love him. check your approval rating.....
. College kids want jobs, they have grown up in three years to see this guy wants to give to those who dont do rather then the ones who are willing to do. Dems are not getting this vote next time..

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tfpisan January 09 2014 at 1:16 PM

so after you lie and have your approval rating at an all time low what do you do?

Sorry to say, but life needs ditch diggers too. In 90% of life you get what you worked for.
Best quote from Charles Barkley ever... " poor people been voting democrat all life long, but they are still poor". stop giving and make people work for it. Pride and a good days work, get you get that Mr preZ... Period

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English January 09 2014 at 11:40 AM

The Man lied to us, if you are a liar, then you can not be trusted. Thus, who cares what he has to say. He will give away money, cell phones, food and anything else he can think of to try and get people to forget about Obama Health Care. He has proven. he is willing to say anything, to do anything, to get his way. We need the Government to get out of our daily lives. Obama thinks if we would all give him all our money, he knows best what we need and he will take care of it. Once, again he is wrong. He lacked the experience to be President, and he has proven it. Your management experience can not be that of a community organizer ane then take on the largest administrative job in the world. Hillary is not either, she has proven she can not run the State Dept much less the country.

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debbie.moss3 January 09 2014 at 11:31 AM

So Obama is taking us all to the "promise Land?" Well he must be the second coming, as declared by Chris Matthews and the other fanatical Lefties!

All he knows how to do is throw money at projects to garner Democratic support. He is trying to buy his democratic colleagues their 2014 votes in the wake of his failed Obamacare. Our Country cannot afford Obama!

Mr. Obama, we are financially broke and emotionally broken (no hope left), leave our money alone! What is our incentive to work if you take all our money and GIVE IT TO THE 'I DON'T WANT TO WORK' CROWD? I am not referring to the unemployed, I'm referring to the LAZY!

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Bill January 09 2014 at 10:48 AM

More promises to take from the folks that are self sufficient to give to the ones who don't want to work. I see on the news the libs are already after the GOP possible candidates for President by attacking for the slightest thing yet ignore all of the scandals on BO's watch.

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rgkarasiewicz January 09 2014 at 11:19 AM

"More promises to take from the folks that are self sufficient to give to the ones who don't want to work".

You guessed it!

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almeters January 09 2014 at 10:40 AM

If you like your promise, you can keep your promise...err..I...um..I mean if you like your poverty, you can keep your poverty...(yeah, that's the ticket). The most transparent liar in presidential history.

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scitzobear January 09 2014 at 9:51 AM

maybe we can pay the poor say 10,000 to be "fixed" > no more kids they cant afford no more poverty and they get 10,ooo to buy there own cell phone

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2 replies to scitzobear's comment
rgkarasiewicz January 09 2014 at 10:04 AM

Bearing kids to them is very lucrative as they typically will receive free housing, welfare, food stamps, heating assistance and other freebies.

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Bill January 09 2014 at 10:49 AM


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rotceriddnab January 09 2014 at 8:13 AM

We always hear about how poverty affects the children. Funny, I thought the schools and churches were the leaders in feeding children. Even now, some public schools send home food in a child's backpack on Fridays so that these students will not go hungry over the weekend. So how many of these kid's parents are willing to give up alcohol and/or drugs so that they can feed their children? How many of these parents are willing to give up so-called luxuries (cell phones, large screen tv's, and "gold rims that spin backwards on their cars" - so that their children can eat? When will these parents start to put their children first. In the progressive mind, there is only one kind of poverty. It is always an impersonal force wrought by capitalism, with no way out that doesn't involve massive government help. Family structure and the values that go into successful child rearing have a stronger correlation with economic mobility than income inequality. America's system is hardly flawless. But, any other child living in a socialist country would still be a victim - of bad parents.

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