Lyndon Johnson

COMMENTARY: An Executive Order with Moral Authority

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza, photo courtesy of the White House via Flickr. Via RNS.

Many of us believe skyrocketing income inequality is the most important economic, political, and moral issue confronting our nation. Everyone from members of Congress to Pope Francis has called for action — and now our president is leading by example.

In his State of the Union address, the president announced he would sign an executive order to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour for a group of federally contracted workers. Recent research has revealed that the federal government is our nation’s leading low-wage job creator, creating more than 2 million jobs through federal contracts, loans, and grants. With this stroke of the pen, the president will begin to transform the lives of many of these Americans who are struggling to survive.

Unfortunately, many conservative commentators are criticizing the president’s action. They claim he is overstepping his legal authority and even violating his constitutional powers.

Want to Win the War on Poverty? For the Sake of the Most Vulnerable, Let's Work Together

Created by Brandon Hook/Sojourners. Photos: Nolte Lourens/Shutterstock and bikeriderlondon/Shutterstock

The only way to win the “war on poverty” is for liberals and conservatives to make peace — for the sake of the poor. That would be the best way to mark the 50th anniversary of the war on poverty, declared by President Lyndon Johnson in his January 1964 State of the Union address. Making peace means replacing ideologies with solutions that actually solve the problems of poverty. With both Republicans and Democrats speaking out on poverty this week, and the recession slowly receding this should be an opportunity to find the focus, commitment, and strategies that could effectively reduce and ultimately eliminate the shameful facts of poverty in the world’s richest nation.

For any proposal, the basic question must be whether it helps more people and families rise out of poverty and realize their dreams. This means setting aside political self-interest and thinking beyond our too often inflexible ideologies.

Measuring Poverty

In January of 1964, President Johnson declared "unconditional war on poverty in America." In response, the Census Bureau created a methodology for establishing an "official poverty line," determined the number of people whose incomes fell below the line, and calculated the poverty rate. The formula for determining poverty was based on the assumption that food costs consume one-third of a family's after-tax income -- an assumption that is still used today, though food now constitutes [...]

MLK and LBJ: Movements and Politicians

An unfortunate exchange of words between the campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama this week threatened to explode into real conflict, involving the always volatile U.S. issue of race. The dust-up was as unexpected as it was unfortunate, and was sparked in part by comments made about the respective roles of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and President Lyndon Johnson in achieving the historic goals of the civil rights movement. But race is the wrong way to view this escalating war of [...]