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

Related: Greenstein: Chairman Ryan Needs to Play it Straight on Poverty Programs

 

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

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan left the impression today 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) today 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

Issues Facing Congress

House Child Tax Credit Bill Leaves Behind Millions of Low-Income Working Families

The Child Tax Credit (CTC) legislation that the House is slated to consider this week has misguided priorities: it would make many relatively affluent families better off while letting millions of low-income working families become poorer. Read more

Related: House Should Reject Backwards Child Tax Credit Bill

 

Signs of Momentum on Corporate Inversions

As the current uptick in inversions shows, corporate tax lawyers have found ways around the 2004 anti-inversion provisions. Policymakers should approve legislation that strengthens the bipartisan response from a decade ago — and soon. Waiting for corporate or international tax reform will only invite more tax avoidance-driven corporate exits. Read more

Related: Congress Should Promptly Enact Legislation to Help Close Tax-Driven Corporate “Inversions” Loophole

 

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