The Republican Party is trying to rehabilitate its image as uncaring about the poor, and taking the lead is U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who Wednesday criticized Democratic-championed welfare policies, and provided his own program for the “War on Poverty.”
Arguing that existing government programs sometimes ignore or worsen the problem, Rubio called for innovative and targeted reform, and marriage.
Here’s what Florida's junior senator said in a speech marking the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty”:
“Social factors also play a major role in denying equal opportunity. The truth is that the greatest tool to lift people, to lift children and families from poverty, is one that decreases the probability of child poverty by 82 percent. But it isn’t a government program. It’s called marriage."
Rubio continued: "Fifty years ago, today, when the 'War on Poverty' was launched, 93 percent of children born in the United States were born to married parents. By 2010 that percentage had plummeted to 60 percent. It shouldn’t surprise us that 71 percent of poor families with children are families that are not headed by a married couple.”
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But, according to the Council on Contemporary Families, marriage isn’t an effective poverty-ending tool for unmarried mothers and their children.
“The flaw in this argument is the assumption that all marriages are equally beneficial,” a CCF brief stated. “In fact, however, the pool of potential marriage partners for single mothers in impoverished communities does not include many men with good prospects for becoming stable and helpful partners.”
The report went on to state that:
-- Single mothers are mainly likely to marry men with children from other partnerships, or men who have few economic resources, or who lack a high-school diploma, or men who have been incarcerated or have substance abuse problems;
-- The new unions that single mothers form tend to be highly unstable;
-- The CCF also pointed out the findings of a study of more than 7,000 women published in the Journal of Family Issues, which showed that approximately 64 percent of the single mothers who married were divorced by the time they reached age 35 to 44; and
-- That single mothers who marry and later divorce tend to be economically worse off than other single mothers who never marry.