Understanding Poverty and the Safety Net

Greenstein: Ryan “Opportunity Grant” Proposal Would Likely Increase Poverty and Shrink Resources for Poverty Programs Over Time

A centerpiece of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s new poverty plan would consolidate 11 safety-net and related programs — from food stamps to housing vouchers, child care, and the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) — into a single block grant to states.  This new “Opportunity Grant” would operate initially in an unspecified number of states.  While some other elements of the Ryan poverty plan deserve serious consideration, such as those relating to the Earned Income Tax Credit and criminal justice reform, his “Opportunity Grant” would likely increase poverty and hardship, and is therefore ill-advised, for several reasons. Read more

 

Ryan’s Rhetoric Doesn’t Match His Proposal’s Reality

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan left the impression that his proposed Opportunity Grant will allow low-income individuals to get income assistance as well as help they may need to go to school, get off drugs, and succeed in the workplace. That picture, however, doesn’t reflect the reality of his proposal. Read more

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Ryan Adds Momentum to Expanding EITC for Childless Workers

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan highlighted the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) as one of the most effective anti-poverty programs and joined growing bipartisan calls to expand it for childless adults (including non-custodial parents), the lone group that the federal tax system taxes into poverty. We applaud this step, though we encourage him to reconsider some of his proposals to offset the cost — which would hit vulnerable families — and his opposition to a much-needed increase in the minimum wage. Read more

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Deep Poverty Among Children Worsened in Welfare Law’s First Decade

Since the mid-1990s, when policymakers made major changes in the public assistance system, the proportion of children living in poverty has declined, but the harshest extremes of child poverty have increased.

After correcting for the well-known underreporting of safety net benefits in the Census data, we estimate that the share of children in deep poverty — with family income below half of the poverty line — rose from 2.1 percent to 3.0 percent between 1995 and 2005. The number of children in deep poverty climbed from 1.5 million to 2.2 million. Read more

Related: Why the 1996 Welfare Law Is Not a Model for Other Safety-Net Programs

More: Poverty and Income analyses

Social Security’s Financing

Awaiting the 2014 Social Security Trustees’ Report

Social Security’s trustees will release their annual review of the program’s finances on Monday, and while we’re not sure what the report will say, the trustees last year estimated that Social Security’s combined trust funds will be exhausted in 2033.  That was well within the range that the program’s trustees have projected in their reports for the past two decades (see table).  Read more

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