Director, Commonwealth Policy Center

A recent report by the United Nations claimed that “[a]bout 40 million (Americans) live in poverty, 18.5 million in extreme poverty, and 5.3 million live in third-world conditions of absolute poverty.” Sounds unbelievable. But according to Robert Rector at the Heritage Foundation the report is "wrong on all counts." The reporter didn't include government assistance among low-income households. In fact, the U.S. government provides $1.1 trillion in annual assistance to the poor and most assistance comes in the form of food, medical benefits and housing. The report compares the 5.3 million Americans living in “extreme poverty” to third world conditions. Yet most of our extreme poor "typically have air conditioning, computers, DVD players, and cellphones." Poverty is tragic, but we're spending significant resources to help the poor.