Understanding Poverty and the Safety Net

Ryan’s “Opportunity Grant” Would Likely Force Cuts in Food and Housing Assistance

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan maintains that consolidating 11 safety-net and related programs into a single “Opportunity Grant” would give states the flexibility to provide specialized services to low-income people.  But providing these additional services would require cutting assistance funded through the Opportunity Grant to other needy people.  And because SNAP (formerly food stamps) and housing assistance together make up more than 80 percent of the Opportunity Grant, the cuts would almost certainly reduce families’ access to these programs, which are effective at reducing poverty — particularly deep poverty. 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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Unemployment and the Economy

Chad Stone Statement on July's Jobs Report

Today’s solid jobs report shows a labor market that’s moving in the right direction but still has a ways to go before everyone who wants to work has a reasonable chance of finding a suitable job.  Long-term unemployment (more than 26 weeks) remains a particular problem, and Congress dealt the long-term unemployed a harsh blow when it allowed federal emergency jobless benefits to expire prematurely at the end of last year.  Seven months later, long-term unemployment remains higher than when any of the previous seven emergency unemployment programs expired after previous recessions (see chart).  In addition, the share of the population with a job remains well below where it was at the start of the recession.  Read more

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