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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More: Poverty and Income Analyses

Social Security and Medicare Financing

Greenstein Statement on the 2014 Social Security Trustees’ Report

“Social Security can pay full benefits for close to two decades, the trustees’ report shows, but will then face a significant, though manageable, funding shortfall that Congress and the President should address in the near future.

“Specifically, the trustees estimate that Social Security will be able to pay full benefits until 2033, at which point its combined trust funds will be exhausted. After 2033, even if legislators failed to act, Social Security would pay about 75 percent of scheduled benefits, relying on Social Security taxes as they are collected. The exhaustion date is unchanged from last year’s report, and is within the range that the trustees have been projecting for some time. In the late 1990s, the trustees projected the exhaustion date as early as 2029; at one point in the last decade, they projected an exhaustion date as late as 2042.”  Read more

 

Statement of Paul Van de Water on the 2014 Medicare Trustees’ Report

“Medicare has grown somewhat stronger financially in both the short and long term since last year but continues to face long-term financing challenges, [the] report from its trustees shows. The projected date of insolvency for Medicare’s Hospital Insurance (HI) trust fund is 2030 — four years later than projected last year.

Health reform, along with other factors, has significantly improved Medicare’s financial outlook, boosting revenues and making the program more efficient. The HI trust fund’s projected exhaustion date of 2030 is 13 years later than the trustees projected before the Affordable Care Act. And the HI program’s projected 75-year shortfall of 0.87 percent of taxable payroll is down from last year’s estimate of 1.11 percent and much less than the 3.88 percent that the trustees estimated before health reform.”  Read more

 

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