Edwards’ plan to stay ‘relevant’ for 10 more years

It’s the same old song and dance from the poverty pimp, but at least he’s not using the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for it this time. Under the Dome reports that Edwards participated in a two-part photo shoot for GQ magazine (reportedly, a certain bespectacled political columnist needed restraint at that news) to promote something he calls the “Half in Ten” program, ostensibly to cut poverty in half in ten years.

Naturally, this program continues to reflect Edwards’ counterproductive approaches to poverty; i.e., his infatuation with the age-old delusion that the state can solve poverty without addressing how wealth is produced or, especially in America, what makes some people not productive and government’s role in exacerbating that.

The report on which his program would be based leads with a massive increase in the minimum wage, Edwards’ pat response to fighting poverty and one that is guaranteed to make it harder for the poorest and least employable to find work. The top five recommendations are:

  • “Raise and index the minimum wage to half the average hourly wage”: He would have increased it from $5.15/hour to $8.40/hour in 2006 (meaning it would be higher than that now — it is currently $5.85/hour and on July 24 will increase to $6.55/hour), and pretend that such a large increase would not significantly impact payrolls and leave behind many of the poorest workers.
  • “Expand the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit”: I.e., heavily subsidizing poor people via tripling the EITC if they are childless and expanding the Child Tax Credit to poor people with children who have been exempt because they have no income-tax liability.
  • “Promote unionization by enacting the Employee Free Choice Act”: This Orwellian-named act would take away employees’ rights by making unionization votes on public rather than private ballots, thereby opening workers to harassment and intimidation by union leaders, and cause employees numerous other problems as well. Employees, when given the chance, have been voting with their feet away from unions for decades. Edwards, as the unions’ candidate of choice in 2008, is desperate to reverse that trend.
  • “Guarantee child care assistance to low-income families and promote early education for all”: This would give government-provided daycare to families with incomes of up to $40,000/year and tax credits for the same for higher-income families; a huge expansion of government.
  • “Create 2 million new ‘opportunity’ housing vouchers, and promote equitable development in and around central cities”: This is the poverty-fighting equivalent of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic; Edwards does not want to anger the teacher’s union by suggesting that inner-city schools be made to improve or, worse, that people in urban areas be allowed choice in education (q.v., where he borrowed the idea of “vouchers” in the first place). He starts with the assumption that it is natural that inner-city areas are terrible, crime-ridden places with horrible schools, so that it is the government’s responsibility not to police them nor the schools to improve, rather it is the government’s responsibility to take people from those areas and deposit them elsewhere — at public cost, of course.

Speaking of, how much would all that cost? Bearing in mind that such cost estimates of massive government boondoggles tend to be on the low side, and on the static assumption:

The combined cost of our principal recommendations is in the range of $90 billion a year—a significant cost but one that could be readily funded through

— oh, you know it’s coming; what you don’t know is which high-tax euphemism they’ll use this time —

a fairer tax system.

Jon Sanders / Research Editor and Senior Fellow, Regulatory Studies

Jon Sanders studies regulatory policy, a veritable kudzu of invasive government and unintended consequences. As director of regulatory studies at the John Locke Foundation, Jo...