In divining the origins of President Obama’s fiscal policies, some critics have gone so far as to accuse the president of implementing the infamous so-called Cloward-Piven Strategy.
The plan, first proposed in 1966, calls for a flood of Americans to obtain public welfare with the intention of precipitating an economic crisis that hastens the fall of capitalism and replaces it with a national system of “a guaranteed annual income and thus an end to poverty.”
Now for the first time, the co-author and namesake of the strategy, Dr. Frances Fox Piven, spoke in a radio interview Sunday about the contention Obama is motivated by her radical blueprint, claims which were popularized by former Fox News host Glenn Beck.
Piven is professor of political science and sociology at The Graduate Center, City University of New York. She was interviewed on “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio,” broadcast on New York’s AM 970 The Answer and Philadelphia’s NewsTalk 990.
Her strategy was co-authored by late Columbia University professor and activist Richard Cloward as an article in “The Nation” on May 2, 1966, entitled “The Weight of the Poor: A Strategy to End Poverty.”
Klein asked Piven about the societal changes that have taken place under Obama and whether they were a reflection, deliberately or not, of the professor’s socio-political ideology.
“The concept of overloading the U.S. economy,” said Klein. “Do you believe, right now with the debt ceiling reset now at $18 trillion … do you believe that Obama, intentionally or not, is overloading the U.S. economy?”
“In the first place,” Dr. Piven replied, “overloading the U.S. economy is not something I ever wrote about or thought about. This is your language and the construction that you are putting on an article that was very carefully written to say that if people got the benefits to which they were legally entitled, that it would place fiscal strain on state and local government, that the system could only proceed as it was proceeding – denying assistance to very poor people, women and children – it could only proceed as it was proceeding if state and local governments continued to deny benefits to needy people.
“If they gave them these benefits,” she continued, “then there would be budgetary problems, and those budgetary problems should be solved, we argued. Now that’s altogether different than ‘overloading the economy.’ The debt of American government on all levels – federal state, local, school districts, countries – the debt of the American government is the result of concerted efforts to lower taxes on the very rich that has been unfolding as part of the broad effort to redistribute America’s great wealth to the very richest people in the country.”
Klein petitioned Piven to respond to Beck’s repeated contention the Cloward-Piven strategy helped to inspire Obama’s policies.
In one of many broadcasts, on February 18, 2010, Beck said: “You’ve got total destruction of wealth coming … It’s the final phase of the Cloward-Piven strategy, which is collapse the system.”
Speaking to Piven, Klein noted “That [article] actually got quite a bit of attention a few years ago when a ‘certain talk show host who used to have a certain show on Fox News’ started talking endlessly about the Cloward-Piven strategy,” referring to Glenn Beck.
Beck brought Piven’s article into the limelight in 2010 when he claimed Piven was responsible for a plan to “intentionally collapse our economic system.”
“It’s something of a hoax to attribute that change that occurred in this period in American society to an article in the Nation,” said Piven. “The hoax is the work of Glenn Beck, who likes to point to particular people as villains or, from my point of view, as heroes. I don’t deserve to be a hero or a villain in this story. It’s a sort of made-up narrative, tells a simple fairy tale about how change occurs in America. And it doesn’t occur because of a Nation article.”