WASHINGTON — Why are so many American families trapped in
poverty? Of all the explanations offered by Washington’s
politicians and economists, one seems particularly obvious in the
low-income neighborhoods near the Capitol: because there are so
many parents like Carl Harris and Charlene Hamilton.
For most of their daughters’ childhood, Mr. Harris didn’t come
close to making the minimum wage. His most lucrative job, as a
crack dealer, ended at the age of 24, when he left Washington to
serve two decades in prison, leaving his wife to raise their two
young girls while trying to hold their long-distance marriage
CBO finds that during the past 40 years, federal spending for 10
of the major means-tested programs and tax credits for low-income
households more than tripled as a share of GDP. In 2012, such
spending totaled $588 billion, one-sixth of all federal outlays.
Over the next decade, spending on those programs will continue to
rise under current law, CBO projects, driven mainly by growth in
Medicaid and other means-tested health care programs.
The report was written by Will Carrington, Molly Dahl, and Justin
Falk, with assistance from other CBO staff.