Below is a brief run-down on some of the issues Congress has debated in recent weeks and may revisit during its lame-duck session in November:
BEYOND THE NUMBERS
As a Center report explained last week, the new Census data for 2009 reflect the harsh impact of the recession, as poverty and the ranks of the uninsured grew considerably while median incomes among working-age households fell.
Last week, we highlighted our analysis of the Census Bureau’s new poverty data, in which we found that unemployment benefits kept many Americans out of poverty and economic hardship in 2009. Food stamps helped, too. In fact, the increase in the number of Americans with income below the poverty line is nearly three times as great if you don’t count unemployment benefits and food stamps as if you do.
Below are the answers to today’s quiz on the impact of government programs in boosting the economy and reducing hardship during the recession. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org today with your final score for the challenge and we’ll send you one of our newly-designed Center on Budget T-shirts.
It’s no secret that with unemployment much higher than usual during the recession, a growing number of Americans are receiving food stamps to help them afford an adequate diet. In fact, the number of food stamp recipients has jumped by about 13 million (50 percent) since the start of the recession. But you might not know that the Food Stamp Program has handled this increase while becoming even more efficient, as a new Center report shows.
Tomorrow a House committee will consider a bill to renew the WIC program, which provides carefully selected foods and nutrition services to 9 million low-income pregnant and postpartum women and young children. As I explained in this paper (and this blog post and this podcast), the program spends about $90 million extra each year on higher-priced infant formula with ingredients that supposedly boost children’s health and development — but it has no idea whether these ingredients actually work. Congress now has a chance to address the issue.
Update 7/13/10: New post on the topic here.
The federal WIC program, which provides foods and nutrition services to 9 million low-income pregnant and postpartum women and young children, spends about $90 million extra each year on higher-priced infant formula with ingredients that supposedly boost children’s health and development. But it has no idea whether these ingredients work, and no way to find out.
In about 10,000 schools around the country, at least four-fifths of the children are poor enough to qualify for free or reduced-price meals. Wouldn’t it make sense to allow those schools to serve free meals to all of their students without having to use scarce resources to weed out the few children who don’t qualify?
The Senate Agriculture Committee incorporated that improvement, part of the Hunger Free Schools Act, into the bill it passed last month to renew the federal child nutrition programs.
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