Recent Republican attempts to weaken the social safety net have one big thing in common: The pain they would inflict on poor children could last a lifetime. This is not only miserly but also shortsighted. Research shows that safety net programs keep children in school and out of trouble, and increase their chances of being healthier and living longer. All of this has a positive effect on our economy.
Convened to examine the causes of civil unrest in black communities, the presidential commission issued a 1968 report with a stark conclusion: America was moving toward two societies, “one black, one white — separate and unequal.”
No group is as linked to poverty in the American mind as single mothers. For decades, politicians, journalists and scholars have scrutinized the reasons poor couples fail to use contraception, have children out of wedlock and do not marry.
The reality, however, is that single motherhood is not the reason we have unusually high poverty in the United States, compared with other rich democracies.
For the past two decades, U.S. anti-poverty policy has coalesced around the idea that work should be at the center of anti-poverty programs. Bi-partisan welfare reform in the 1990s focused on work requirements and time limits. The growth and popularity of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which increases the after tax income for those working near the bottom of the wage distribution, has also emphasized the importance of work. Recently, proposals to require work for those receiving a variety of benefits, including Medicaid, SNAP, and public housing, continue this employment focus.
The widely expected passage of the tax reform bill will almost undoubtedly cause significant harm to Medicare. And provocative statements by President Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan declaring that “entitlement reform” will be next threatens Medicaid. Put these two together and, I think, one thing is clear: Big Medicare and Medicaid cuts are coming.
Medicaid is the nation’s public health insurance program for people with low incomes. Overall, the Medicaid program covers one in five Americans, including many with complex and costly needs for care. Historically, nonelderly adults without disabilities accounted for a small share of Medicaid enrollees; however, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) expanded coverage to nonelderly adults with income up to 138% FPL, or $16,642 per year for an individual in 2017.
The report asserts that the basic needs for people with disabilities go beyond what is covered in the official U.S. definition of poverty and that a new definition of poverty could help highlight the financial challenges facing people with disabilities and influence changes in policy.
A new proposal by Democratic Sens. Michael Bennet (CO) and Sherrod Brown (OH) would provide a child allowance. The American Family Act of 2017 would dramatically expand the child tax credit, which currently offers up to $1,000 a year for families with significant earnings but little or nothing for many poor people.
California has 11 of the 20 most-affluent cities in the nation, while Florida and Ohio each have four cities on the list of the 20 poorest cities, based on an analysis of 2016 median household income.
The data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2016 American Community Survey, the results of which were released this month. The release included numbers for the 599 U.S. municipalities and 806 counties with at least 65,000 residents.
Although it started as a plan to cover only the poor, Medicaid now touches tens of millions of Americans who live above the poverty line. The program serves as a backstop for America’s scattershot health care system. Today Medicaid is the nation’s largest health insurance program, covering 74 million people — more than 1 in 5 Americans. Twenty-five percent of Americans will be on Medicaid at some point in their lives
New research suggests programs aimed at helping low-income U.S. children, such as Head Start early childhood education and Medicaid health coverage, may have benefits not only for participating children but for their children as well.
New research on a program in Mexico gives us a real-world test case for the idea that providing universal basic income would cause inflation. And it strongly suggests that giving out cash doesn’t cause inflation — or if it does, the effects are very, very mild.
Both proposed versions of the Republican health care bill—the American Health Care Act (AHCA) and the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA)–create an option for states to receive Medicaid funds in the form of a block grant (in the BCRA, the Medicaid Flexibility Program). The lessons from welfare reform can provide valuable insights into the potential impact of Medicaid block grants: namely, states may have a considerable incentive to pursue block grants, because they pose an attractive opportunity to cut state spending and allocate Medicaid dollars for other uses should the state desire that outcome.
Congratulations to Pulitzer winner Professor Matthew Desmond, who presented this important new work on the process and toll of evictions in America to Center for Poverty Research faculty and students in November 2015.
Meals on Wheels has been delivering food to older people in the United States since the 1950s. Last year it served 2.4 million people. This week, after President Trump released his budget proposal, a furor erupted over the program’s future and effectiveness. Let’s look at the evidence.
Meals on Wheels has been the subject of many peer-reviewed studies in the medical literature. So many have been done that there are several systematic reviews gathering these studies into various domains.
SACRAMENTO, Calif.—In making their case for California’s policies on climate and immigration, Democrats proudly note the state’s status as one of the world’s most powerful economies, driven by thriving tech and creative industries.
Republicans here are pointing to a different metric: the poverty rate.
“Poverty is the No. 1 issue for California.… We have to work to fix it,” said Republican state Assembly leader Chad Mayes. “It is directly related to the policies we have put in place in California.”
On a frigid morning here, Nancy Godinez was piling bread and other staples into her car outside a food pantry. She had lost her job as a custodian, her unemployment checks had run out, and her job search had proved fruitless.
One thing she still had was health insurance, acquired three years ago after Arkansas’ Republican-controlled legislature agreed to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. The coverage, she said, has allowed her to get regular checkups and treatment for tendinitis in her foot.
When Americans talk about the failings of the country’s economy, the focus is usually on inequality—the uneven distribution of prosperity among the population. Poverty, on its own terms, receives less attention.
That’s not the case in a necessary new book by Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Shaefer, $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America. In it, they report on the roughly 1.5 million households that are surviving on cash incomes of practically nothing and not much in the way of government assistance.
“…Economist Chris Benner of the University of California at Davis does not agree that a higher minimum wage would lead to job losses.
“There may be some job impact in those small businesses themselves,” he said. But in the entire economy, when you increase income to low-wage workers, it creates jobs because those workers are likely to spend their additional income and that increases demand for goods and services….”
In 2010, an estimated 2.7 million children and one in nine African-American children had an incarcerated parent. Now, consider new research from the UC Davis Poverty Center that finds children whose parents are in prison have worse health, poorer school performance and are at a greater risk for depression, anxiety, asthma and HIV/AIDS. The UC Davis report finds that a parent’s incarceration has long-lasting effects on his or her children.
Rich and poor students don’t merely enroll in college at different rates; they also complete it at different rates. The graduation gap is even wider than the enrollment gap.
In 2002, researchers with the National Center for Education Statistics started tracking a cohort of 15,000 high school sophomores. The project, called the Education Longitudinal Study, recorded information about the students’ academic achievement, college entry, work history and college graduation. A recent publication examines the completed education of these young people, who are now in their late 20s.
Researchers, grant-makers and policymakers have long relied on enrollment numbers for the federally subsidized Free and Reduced-Price Lunch program. They use those numbers as a handy proxy for measuring how many students are struggling economically. The paperwork that families submit to show their income becomes the basis of billions in federal funds.
To be eligible for these programs, a family must earn no more than 85 percent above the poverty line. Just over half of public school students fit that description.
James Baker was pedaling to work along a slick, snow-covered road in Frederick County, Md., when a traffic light changed abruptly. He braked and skidded to the ground, unhurt but making a mess of his clothes before a long day of work and school.
He was on his bicycle that snowy morning last December, about an hour northwest of Washington, because the bus service in Frederick was so erratic. Routes were far apart and the buses often late, making a 30-minute bike ride, whatever the weather, a better option.
In the wake of the Los Angeles riots more than 20 years ago, Congress created an anti-poverty experiment called Moving to Opportunity. It gave vouchers to help poor families move to better neighborhoods and awarded them on a random basis, so researchers could study the effects.
LEBANON, Tenn. — The last time Kenneth Seay lost his job, at an industrial bakery that offered health insurance and Christmas bonuses, it was because he had been thrown in jail for legal issues stemming from a revoked driver’s license. Same with the three jobs before that.
In fact, Mr. Seay said, when it comes to gainful employment, it is not his criminal record that is holding him back — he did time for dealing drugs — but the $4,509.22 in fines, court costs and reinstatement fees he must pay to recover his license.
It is an understatement to say that the welfare reforms of the 1990s were intended to give a little spring to the social safety net.
The intention was much more radical. The reforms involved a major make-over of income support, and turning what was imagined as a net ensnarling many Americans behind a welfare wall, into a springboard that would incentivize work and allow them to ride a wave of prosperity to higher incomes that would lift their children out of poverty.
But this kind of reform is hardly what is needed when times turn bad.
Deported parents face no good solutions to the dilemma of forced separation from their children: Either they remove their children from their country of citizenship, or deportees return to rejoin their children, facing harsh penalties if caught.
Many in Houston regularly face the terrible prospect.
Roughly one in seven people in the United States rely on food banks or other charitable organizations for basic nutrition, according to a new study by the nonprofit Feeding America. That number includes 25 percent of active military families, and an increased number of adult college students. Deborah Flateman, executive director of the Maryland Food Bank, joins Jeffrey Brown to discuss the crisis.
SAN DIEGO — In a typical last-minute scramble, Jannette Navarro, a 22-year-old Starbucks barista and single mother, scraped together a plan for surviving the month of July without setting off family or financial disaster.
YAMHILL, Ore. — ONE delusion common among America’s successful people is that they triumphed just because of hard work and intelligence.
In fact, their big break came when they were conceived in middle-class American families who loved them, read them stories, and nurtured them with Little League sports, library cards and music lessons. They were programmed for success by the time they were zygotes.
Like it or not, television has the power to shape our perceptions of the world. So what do sitcoms, dramas and reality TV say about poor people?
In life and on TV, “poor” is relative. Take breakfast: For Honey Boo Boo’s family, it’s microwaved sausage and pancake sandwiches; for children in The Wire’s Baltimore ghetto, it’s a juice box and a bag of chips before school; and on Good Times, set in the Chicago projects back in the 1970s, it was a healthier choice: oatmeal.
More than 21 million children get free or reduced priced meals during the school year. But in the summer, that number drops to only three million.
The big question is what happens to all the other children. Do they get enough, and the right food, to eat?
This summer, government agencies and are making a massive push to get millions of meals to kids who might otherwise go hungry as part of the nationwide . And they’re doing some creative things to reach them.
As more workers find their lives upended and their paychecks reduced by ever-changing, on-call schedules, government officials are trying to put limits on the harshest of those scheduling practices.
The actions reflect a growing national movement — fueled by women’s and labor groups — to curb practices that affect millions of families, like assigning just one or two days of work a week or requiring employees to work unpredictable hours that wreak havoc with everyday routines like college and child care.
Annie Lowrey writes in the Times Magazine this week about the troubles of Clay County, Ky., which by several measures is the hardest place in America to live.
The Upshot came to this conclusion by looking at six data points for each county in the United States: education (percentage of residents with at least a bachelor’s degree), median household income, unemployment rate, disability rate, life expectancy and obesity. We then averaged each county’s relative rank in these categories to create an overall ranking.
On a hazy, hot evening here, Janice Marks ate a dinner of turkey and stuffing at a homeless shelter filled with plastic cots before crossing a few blocks to the Arkansas side of town to start her night shift restocking the dairy cases at Walmart.
The next day, David Tramel and Janice McFall had a free meal of hot dogs and doughnut holes at a Salvation Army center in Arkansas before heading back to their tent, hidden in a field by the highway in Texas.
Is a family with a car in the driveway, a flat-screen television and a computer with an Internet connection poor?
Americans — even many of the poorest — enjoy a level of material abundance unthinkable just a generation or two ago. That indisputable economic fact has become a subject of bitter political debate this year, half a century after President Lyndon B. Johnson declared a war on poverty.
When people visit with friends and neighbors in southern West Virginia, where paved roads give way to dirt before winding steeply up wooded hollows, the talk is often of lives that never got off the ground.
“How’s John boy?” Sabrina Shrader, 30, a former neighbor, asked Marie Bolden one cold winter day at what Ms. Bolden calls her “little shanty by the tracks.”
Ask Anne Valdez what poverty means for her, and her answer will describe much more than a simple lack of money.
“It’s like being stuck in a black hole,” says Valdez, 47, who is unemployed and trying to raise a teenage son in Coney Island, New York City. “Poverty is like literally being held back from enjoying life, almost to the point of not being able to breathe.”
For years, researchers have complained that the way the government measures income and poverty is severely flawed, that it provides an incomplete — and even distorted — view.
President Obama is hoping to fight poverty, in five so-called “promise zones.” The government is targeting those areas for economic revitalization. Host Michel Martin and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack take a look at the rural communities involved, and the special challenges to fight poverty there.
Growing up poor has long been associated with reduced educational attainment and lower lifetime earnings. Some evidence also suggests a higher risk of depression, substance abuse and other diseases in adulthood. Even for those who manage to overcome humble beginnings, early-life poverty may leave a lasting mark, accelerating aging and increasing the risk of degenerative disease in adulthood.
Fifty years ago today, President Lyndon Johnson stood before Congress and declared an “unconditional war on poverty in America.” His arsenal included new programs: Medicaid, Medicare, Head Start, food stamps, more spending on education, and tax cuts to help create jobs.
WASHINGTON — To many Americans, the war on poverty declared 50 years ago by President Lyndon B. Johnson has largely failed. The poverty rate has fallen only to 15 percent from 19 percent in two generations, and 46 million Americans live in households where the government considers their income scarcely adequate.