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Entries tagged "social safety net"Page 1 • 2 Next
September 12, 2012 · By Karen Dolan
We can’t seem to stop having record numbers of people living in poverty in the United States. The richest continue to get richer and the rest of us continue to see our incomes get lower and lower.
New Census Bureau figures released today, show that 15 percent of the U.S. population lived in poverty in 2011. Over 46 million Americans lived at or below the poverty threshold of a household income of $23,201 per year for a family of four. One in five of our children live in poverty and over one-third of black and Latino children are struggling through impoverishment.
In 2011, we saw the first one-year increase in income inequality since 1993. The top 5 percent gained 5.3 percent in income in 2011 over 2010. The lowest quintile saw little change, but the second-lowest, middle, and fourth-lowest quintiles all experienced a decline in income over the year. Sadly, those who “occupied” Wall Street and city squares across the country in 2011, were right: All of the income gains have concentrated at the top, while the rest of us saw a deterioration or stagnation in our wages and income.
This data also confirms that safety programs work. According to the Census Bureau, unemployment benefits kept 2.3 million of us out of poverty in 2011, Social Security benefits kept over 21 million people out of poverty and, if we count the nutrition aid of the Food Stamps program as income, it would show that 3.9 million people were lifted above the poverty line in 2011.
Increasingly, all of the boost in wealth is concentrated at the top and record numbers of poverty persist, while the middle and lower-economic classes are losing ground. Now is not the time to lower taxes on the wealthiest by cutting proven, effective anti-poverty measures such as Unemployment Insurance, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance, the Earned Income Tax Credit, Social Security, and new coverage benefits gained from the health care reform law.
The rich shouldn't be rewarded while the rest of struggle.
February 2, 2012 · By Emily Schwartz Greco
"I'm not concerned about the very poor." Oops. Mitt Romney messed up. Again. This was a bigger "oops moment" for Romney than when he said a few weeks ago that the $374,327 he earned in speakers' fees over the course of 12 months amounted to "not very much." It was bigger than "I like being able to fire people." It was the biggest since he blurted out that "corporations are people, my friend" at the Iowa State Fair.
Call it a Freudian slip, call it overconfidence emerging from a big win in the Florida Republican primary, call it a classic, out-of-touch-sounding "Rich Romney" gaffe. It may be all of those things, but this comment represents a scripted piece of the Romney campaign strategy. He hopes to co-opt an Obama campaign message aimed at appealing to the middle-class voters each will need in the general election.
Due to CNN.com's editorial policies, we're unable to post the whole thing here. But please read it on their website, and check out some of the 1,800 comments logged so far. Since too many of them are unsympathetic toward the poorest among us, be sure to weigh with your two cents, and spread the word via Facebook and Twitter.
Update: Many conservatives are attacking Romney in the wake of this gaffe. The Daily Kos has a fantastic summary. Here's a sample quote from National Review's Jonah Goldberg: "His language makes him seem like a caricature of a conventionally stiff country club Republican."
November 29, 2010 · By Karen Dolan
It’s almost too easy to compare congressional conservatives to Charles Dickens' character Ebenezer Scrooge. A wealthy miser, Ebenezer, like many in Congress who vote for corporate profit over effective anti-poverty programs, is blind to the suffering of an unequal society--until he's faced with his own mortality. Upon seeing the graves of both poor Tiny Tim and himself, Scrooge is transformed into a philanthropist.
But Capitol Hill conservatives face rebirth, not death. They're excited about cutting Tiny Tim's disability assistance through Social Security. Prospects for an epiphany causing them to conduct good works are slim. We need another way to appeal to those who will stop Christmas from coming.
How about The Grinch Who Stole Christmas? That Dr. Seuss creature who steals little Cindy Lou Who's Christmas tree? Stealing Christmas from the unemployed, the poor, children, blacks, single mothers, the elderly, and the disabled is what's being proposed with cuts to food stamps, state aid, health care, Social Security, Medicare, unemployment insurance, and job subsidies.
The deceptively named “fiscal-conservatives” are cut from the same cloth as the Grinch. He could have been a contender for their affections, but for three things:
- He gives the little girl a glass of water and pats her on the head.
- He's transformed by the singing and anti-retail sentiment of the Whos on a giftless Christmas morning.
- He is Green.
But Charles Dickens created another character through who might appeal to them, a Good Ol' Boy who appreciates scotch and Cuban cigars: the Spirit of Christmas Present. He's jolly, jovial, partying, and plump. Consider him a velvet-wearing, care-free wealthy white guy, making well over $250, 000 a year, hoping for a government handout of a huge tax cut again under the tree this year
Just the sort with whom the Hill conservatives would enjoy a cup of Christmas cheer, merrily handing over to him more wads of our cash. And sure that he will, in turn, line their pockets with campaign contributions. Fa La La.
They would be mistaken. Listen to what the Spirit cautions Scrooge: "There are some upon this earth of yours who lay claim to know us, and who do their deeds of passion, pride, ill-will, hatred, envy, bigotry, and selfishness in our name, who are as strange to us and all our kith and kin, as if they had never lived."
The Spirit of Christmas Present exposes the greedy, mean-spirited conservatives whose policy takes from the poor and gives to the rich: the Anti-Christmas Spirit, the Grinch before the singing, Scrooge before Tiny Tim.
May the Spirit of Christmas Present be with the conservative lawmakers this holiday season as they prepare to extend Christmas year-round to America's millionaires and billionaires by extending tax cuts for them, adding $700 billion to the deficit and as they end Christmas for:
- Two million Americans, who have searched for jobs that don't exist, are out of work and out of luck by not extending unemployment benefits (UI).
- Single moms living in poverty who were able to find good jobs through the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families Emergency Fund program (TANF ECF).
- Over 40 million Americans who eat because of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Conservatives propose funding part of the Child Nutrition bill through cuts in SNAP when SNAP is one of the most successful and stimulative programs we have. (The Child Nutrition Act must be reauthorized, but not out of the mouths of poor children.)
So here's to the prospect that the Hill conservatives let in the Spirit of Christmas Present, hoping for some merry-making. Then may the spirits of Christmas, solstice, Hanukah, and evergreen trees permeate their souls. May they realize that they can be fat, happy, drunk, and wealthy enough while still maintaining a safety net for our nation's downtrodden, reduce the obscene gift of riches to the already rich, bring war dollars home to struggling communities, and put our nation back to the road to recovery.
Karen Dolan, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, was a co-author of the IPS report Battered by the Storm: How the Safety Net Is Failing Americans and How to Fix It. Follow her on Twitter: www.twitter.com/karendolan
November 2, 2010 · By John Cavanagh and Kevin Shih
As we prepare to brace a Republican-controlled House after today’s elections, below are a few thoughts on how IPS is positioning itself in this new political landscape. We’d love to hear what else you all are thinking:
1. We are in for 2 years of stalemate at the national level. This new balance of power in Washington will not allow all much of anything positive to pass, and it won't allow the government to put money into stimulating the economy and creating jobs. So, the economy is likely to remain in stagnation, with high unemployment, and a lot of suffering. With more Republicans in power, the rhetoric of cutting government spending will gain more and more traction, especially in social safety net programs like social security, unemployment insurance and SNAP.
We need to fight for the jobs programs and the safety net programs, and we will be engaged in the battles to ensure the funding of existing safety net programs.
2. In this context of fiscal austerity, there is a big space to talk about what the government should cut. We have two big categories at IPS: the defense/war budgets, and the subsidies to big oil and big corporations. However, as we all know, cuts alone won’t be able to balance our budget. We propose to not only allow the Bush Tax Cuts for the wealthy to expire, but we also strongly encourage politicians to introduce and support new taxes like a progressive estate tax, a financial speculation tax and a currency transaction levy.
3. In this period of stalemate at the national government level, there are big spaces to advance things at the state and local level, where progressives run most big cities, and progressive governments will be in place in many states, like Maryland, California, New York, Maine, Hawaii, and Oregon. We will be pushing for Domestic Workers Bills of Rights in all states, while also working on solutions that will take us closer to a New Economy, like creating state banks in places like Maryland, and encouraging Cleveland’s government to use its procurement powers to support worker-owned coops. We'll be utilizing our inside-outside strategies here, working with both activists and State Senators and city council members.
October 6, 2010 · By Melissa Gindin
Our nation’s safety net program to help low income families and children afford enough food, SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, is slated for a $14.1 billion decrease in funding. Unless Congress acts to reverse this, those receiving SNAP aid will see a substantial reduction in their monthly benefits, possibly beginning as early as 2013. The decrease in monthly aid would mark an unprecedented event in the program’s history.
Congress is raiding the SNAP program to pay for other domestic programs such as Medicaid and teacher salaries. Although a large deficit can be a problem in the long run, studies show that short-term deficit spending in time of recession is beneficial to the economy. Further, SNAP is not only a proven anti-poverty program but also has the stimulative effect on the economy of producing $1.73 in economic activity for each dollar spent on the program.
New information, which was released from the census bureau on September 28th, found that 20 percent of American children live in poverty. The census report also found that in Mississippi alone 31 percent of children were living in poverty. Further troubling is the fact that, in as many as 21 states nationwide childhood poverty was at or above the 20 percent mark. Since SNAP has proven an effective anti-hunger program, it should be supported and expanded in desperate times, not curtailed.
If you rob Peter to pay Paul, the already hungry Peter will starve. If we allow this kind of deficit hysteria to hijack our children’s well being, we will be a nation morally starved as well.