Fox News host Bill O’Reilly Wednesday said it’s time to redefine “poverty in America” because, unlike in developing countries, impoverished Americans own refrigerators and other household appliances.
O’Reilly and Geraldo Rivera agreed that government benefits are fueling the increase in supposedly “impoverished” families in the U.S., citing a U.S. Census Bureau study showing many Americans living in poverty own appliances.
According to the study, more than 50 percent of people living in poverty own a television, cell phone, refrigerator, air conditioner, computer, or washer and dryer.
“You were raised in modest circumstances on Long Island,” O’Reilly told Rivera during the segment. “But you didn’t consider yourself poor, right?”
“No, my father never made more than $10,000 a year,” Rivera said, “and we considered ourselves solidly in the middle class. I think that has changed tremendously.”
He claimed, “It’s one thing to be poor in India or even Mexico, it’s another thing to be poor, according to these statistics, in the United States.”
“When you were being raised, did your family receive any government subsidies at all?” O’Reilly asked.
“Not that I know of,” Rivera responded, adding, “It was considered very shameful in my family.”
“So now we have millions of poor people in America, and the government flooding them with entitlements,” O’Reilly concluded. “So in some states you can make up to $40,000 in entitlements if you don’t work. That, I believe, is creating a ‘poverty class’ that doesn’t want to work because they have enough. They get colored TV, cell phone, computers and it’s unending if [government assistance] will keep coming in.”
Neither acknowledged the fact that 9 out of 10 Americans receiving entitlement benefits were either elderly, seriously disabled, or members of a working household in 2010, according to a report from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP).
“91 percent of the benefit dollars from entitlement and other mandatory programs went to the elderly (people 65 and over), the seriously disabled, and members of working households,” said the CBPP report. “People who are neither elderly nor disabled — and do not live in a working household — received only 9 percent of the benefits.”