Changed life of the poor: Better off but far behind

by Annie Lowerie

Tammie Hagen-Noey, in her bedroom at a group home in Richmond, Va., earns $7.25 an hour at a local McDonald’s. Photo: Drew Angerer for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Is a family with a car in the driveway, a flat-screen television and a computer with an Internet connection poor? Americans — even many of the poorest — enjoy a level of material abundance unthinkable just a generation or two ago. That indisputable economic fact has become a subject of bitter political debate this year, half a century after President Lyndon B. Johnson declared a war on poverty.