Poverty and Income

Low-Income Programs Not Driving Nation’s Long-Term Fiscal Problem

Low-income programs are not driving the nation’s long-term fiscal problems, contrary to the impression that a narrow look at federal spending during the Great Recession and the years that immediately followed might leave. Lawmakers should bear this in mind as they consider proposals that may emerge in coming weeks for deep cuts in this part of the budget.

 

Policymakers Often Overstate Marginal Tax Rates for Lower-Income Workers and Gloss Over Tough Trade-Offs in Reducing Them: Condensed Version

Policymakers and commentators in Washington are focusing more on how tax-based and safety net program benefits for low- and moderate-income families phase down in response to higher earnings, how the phase-down translates into “marginal tax rates,” and how those rates affect the work habits of beneficiaries.

Related: Policymakers Often Overstate Marginal Tax Rates for Lower-Income Workers and Gloss Over Tough Trade-Offs in Reducing Them

 

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

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.

Related:

 

Chart Book: The War on Poverty at 50, Overview

As we mark the 50th anniversary of President Johnson's War on Poverty, we should recognize that poverty has fallen significantly over the last half-century when measured using a comprehensive poverty measure, and other troubling poverty-related conditions have declined.

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Basics

The poverty guideline, the federal government’s estimate of a minimum income used in determining eligibility for many federal programs, is $23,850 for a family of four in 2014, $11,670 for a single individual, and $4,060 for each additional person. The federal minimum wage is currently $7.25 per hour, though many states (and some municipalities) have set their own minimum wages at a higher level.

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The Center analyzes major economic developments affecting low- and moderate-income Americans, including trends in poverty, income inequality, and the working poor.  In addition, we analyze the asset rules in various public benefit programs that can discourage low-income people from building modest savings and highlight potential reforms.

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