BEYOND THE NUMBERS
Poverty Rate Would Nearly Double Without the Safety Net
[S]ix recession-fighting initiatives enacted in 2009 and 2010 kept nearly 7 million people out of poverty in 2010 — under an alternative measure of poverty that takes into account the impact of government benefit programs and taxes. . . .
[I]f the government safety net as a whole — these temporary initiatives (all were featured in the 2009 Recovery Act) plus safety-net policies already in place when the recession hit — hadn’t existed in 2010, the poverty rate would have been 28.6 percent, nearly twice the actual 15.5 percent (see graph).This shows the powerful anti-poverty impact of policies ranging from tax credits like the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit to unemployment insurance, SNAP (food stamps), Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, veterans’ benefits, housing assistance, and others.