Since the Great Depression, the United States has developed a set of supports to help low-income families, seniors, children, and people with disabilities make ends meet and obtain health care. Extensive research indicates that these supports lift millions of Americans out of poverty, help "make work pay" by supplementing low wages, and enable millions of Americans to receive health care who otherwise could not afford it.
To be sure, the United States still has a higher poverty rate than many other advanced countries, and many Americans reach adulthood without the tools they need to succeed in the workforce. Various programs and policies, especially in areas such as job training and education, could be reformed and strengthened. But the claim that advocates of shrinking government sometimes make that public efforts to reduce poverty and hardship have failed is belied by the evidence.