William McGurn writes The Poverty Preening of Professor Obama in The Wall Street Journal:


Now, leave aside the argument of whether poverty owes more to a lack of government spending or to family structure and other social breakdowns. Truth is, it’s simply false to say that Republicans won’t make the public “investments” needed to help the poor.

In New York in the 1990s, for example, Republican Mayor Rudy Giuliani not only invested in the police but sent them into the areas where they were most needed—primarily poor and minority neighborhoods. In too many other Democratic cities, by contrast, mayors in effect cede whole neighborhoods to the thugs and gangs.

Republicans are also willing to spend on education. What they are not willing to do is dump ever more dollars down the same rathole of big-city public school systems that function more as jobs programs for city bureaucrats and members of the teachers unions.

While we’re on the subject, note that it is the president who has tried to kill the Opportunity Scholarship program that gives poor parents in the District of Columbia the opportunity to send their children to schools such as the one where he and Michelle Obama send their own kids, the exclusive private school Sidwell Friends. Meanwhile, it is Republican John Boehner who has kept the program and public funding in place for those children who need it.

Mr. Brooks gamely tried to push back on the progressive pieties, arguing that antipoverty programs need to get past treating the poor as liabilities to be managed and start looking at poor men and women as untapped human capital. He further noted how it is the poor who suffer most when we measure programs by intentions rather than results. It would have been instructive to hear the president and Mr. Putnam explain if there is any metric they might embrace in place of what seems to be the one-size-fits-all liberal answer to any failed government anti-poverty program: increase spending.