Senior Director and Senior Fellow
We will issue a series of posts in the coming days that will look back at some of the major programs that helped struggling families during the year — their goals, impact, and issues facing policymakers in 2012. Today, we’ll begin by setting the context.
For America’s low- and moderate-income families, 2011 was another very bad year, as the Great Recession of 2007-2009 continued to have a large and lingering impact. Unemployment and long-term unemployment remained very high, as did the percentage Americans without health insurance.
Yet things aren’t nearly as bad as they could have been. The safety net is helping to hold the line against poverty and hardship, as the latest available figures in several areas show.
These silver linings come with a big cloud, however. The temporary initiatives either have expired or are set to expire, and the Budget Control Act enacted in August calls for roughly $2 trillion in spending reductions; some in Congress want to cut even deeper.
All major deficit-reduction agreements of the past 25 years have reflected the principle that deficit reduction should not increase poverty or inequality. Upholding that bipartisan principle should be a top New Year’s resolution for policymakers in 2012.
The next post in this series will look at Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).