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Greenstein on Poverty and the Safety Net


CBPP President Robert Greenstein testified today before the House Budget Committee on trends in poverty over the last 50 years, the current state of the safety net, and some ways that policymakers on both sides of the aisle might work together to make progress going forward.

As Greenstein explained:

Poverty has fallen significantly over the last half-century, and key troubling poverty-related conditions have declined.  Since the mid-1960s, average incomes among the poorest fifth of Americans have risen significantly, infant mortality has dropped sharply, and severe child malnutrition has largely disappeared.

Nevertheless, poverty and hardship remain high, and too many of Americans experience difficulty putting sufficient food on the table throughout the month and keeping a roof over their heads.

He discussed several ways to make progress, with a particular emphasis on three policy areas that are ripe for bipartisan cooperation and could make a meaningful difference in reducing poverty, increasing employment, and creating more stability and opportunity for poor children:

  • Expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit for childless adults;
  • Creating subsidized jobs, primarily in the private sector; and
  • Increasing the number of low-income families that receive Housing Choice Vouchers for private rental housing and reforming some aspects of the voucher program.

We’ll explore these recommendations in more detail in future posts.

Click here for the full testimony.