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Only 20% Think Government Anti-Poverty Programs Really Work

Americans increasingly believe government anti-poverty programs cause more poverty in this country. 

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 49% of American Adults now think government programs increase the level of poverty in the United States, while just 20% say they decrease the problem. Nearly as many (19%) say the programs have no impact. Twelve percent (12%) are not sure. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

This marks a steady increase in the number of those who think the programs cause more of the problem they’re supposed to solve – from 43% last September to 45% in April to 49% now. 

There’s a noticeable partisan difference of opinion on this question, however. While 68% of Republicans and 60% of adults not affiliated with either major political party think government programs increase the level of poverty in America, just 20% of Democrats agree. 

Last fall, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that 14.3% of Americans fall below the federal poverty line, the highest number of people living in poverty since the estimates first became available in 1959. But a new study that takes a closer look at the Census Bureau numbers finds that many of those the federal government says are living in poverty have a decent place to live, adequate food on the table and two color TVs, among other amenities, and most Americans don't regard that as being poor

In fact, 71% now believe that the bigger problem with the welfare system in the United States is that there are too many overqualified recipients getting benefits.

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The national survey of 1,000 Adults was conducted on August 16-17, 2011 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

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