09/13/2011 03:13 pm ET Updated Nov 13, 2011

The Highest Poverty Numbers in U.S. History

The number of Americans living in poverty jumped to a historic high this year according to new data released today by the Census Bureau.  Bearing the brunt of this crisis are 16 million kids in America, almost one out of every four and the highest number of kids since the War on Poverty began in the early 1960s. 

This news means that more families than ever are desperately trying to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads. 

Just as tragic, it also means more kids who are less likely to have a quality education, more four year olds who are less likely to be enrolled in preschool and more kids with diets that consist largely of cheap and unhealthy junk foods and drinks.

Kids who aren't learning are likely to remain in poverty as adults, costing our nation hundreds of billions of dollars a year in lost economic growth and increased safety net spending.  

These kids are also more likely to be overweight or obese, putting an unnecessary strain on our already severely burdened health care system. 

Unfortunately, this reality is as crystal clear as our will to act has been feeble.  And it's a crisis that seems to stand alone from other crises facing America.

  • America is focused on solving the national debt crisis that threatens our fiscal solvency.
  • America is focused on eliminating the terrorist threat crisis that threatens the lives of millions. 
  • America is focused on ending the unemployment crisis that threatens future economic growth.   

Now, America has a severe childhood poverty crisis that threatens our fiscal solvency, the lives of millions and our future economic growth.

Despite the moral and long-term economic consequences of childhood poverty, we simply aren't making the kinds of investments that can break the vicious cycle of poverty.  This is a status quo that must end.