Category Archives: Poverty

Lessons From The Telephone Lifeline Program Add To Concerns About Using Utilities To Deliver Low-Income Climate Rebates

Source: Matt Fiedler, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, July 18, 2008

From the abstract:
Protecting the budgets of low-income consumers is a critical issue in the design of climate change legislation. The Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act recently debated in the Senate contained a measure that relied primarily on electric and gas utilities to deliver such relief. However, evidence from the only existing federal program that delivers low-income assistance through utility companies — the Lifeline program for telephone service — strongly suggests that an untried utility-based mechanism would miss large numbers of consumers who could be captured using proven alternatives.
Related:
Veto Threat on Funding For Low-Income Heating Assistance Ignores Serious Need

Refundable Credits Have Cut Taxes for Low-Income Households

Source: Roberton Williams, Urban Institute, August 19, 2008

From the abstract:
In 1979, federal taxes claimed 8 percent of the income of households in the lowest quintile of the income distribution.1 Over the following three decades, the average effective tax rate (ETR) taxes as a percentage of income fell by nearly half to 4.3 percent in 2005. Most of the decline resulted from a sharp drop in the individual income tax, primarily due to expansion of the earned income tax credit and the child tax credit (CTC). Because the EITC is refundable and the CTC is partially refundable, they can reduce a households tax liability below zero and generate a net payment.

Elderly Poverty: The Challenge Before Us

Source: Center for American Progress, July 30, 2008

Aging Americans, like other age groups, are feeling the effects of the declining real estate and stock markets, as well as soaring fuel and food prices. Seniors’ economic security will only increase in importance as the U.S. population ages. The nation’s health and social services resources will face unprecedented demand as 75 million people in the baby boomer generation reach retirement age–some with eroded savings and retirement accounts

Think Again: Poor Coverage on Poverty

Source: Eric Alterman and George Zornick, Center for American Progress, August 7, 2008

Earlier this week, “CBS Evening News” anchor Katie Couric told viewers that the state of California was planning to cut the jobs and wages of state workers. Of the more than 200,000 workers who were to be fired or see their wages reduced, a grand total of zero appeared or were quoted on Couric’s program. No discussion with those workers who are soon to be fired about their probable descent into poverty. No chat with those facing lower wages about what it will be like to struggle among the working poor. Nada.
CBS’s decision was of a piece with most media reporting of issues that affect poor people–to the degree that such issues are reported at all. The most recent estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau show that one in eight Americans live below the poverty line. A study by the University at Michigan’s National Poverty Center reveals that one in three Americans will experience government-defined poverty within a 13-year period. And yet the only people less visible in our media today than the poor at home are our soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

New Hope for the Working Poor: Effects After Eight Years for Families and Children

Source: Cynthia Miller, Aletha C. Huston, Greg J. Duncan, Vonnie C. McLoyd, and Thomas S. Weisner, MRDC [Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation], July 2008

From the overview:
Conceived of in the late 1980s and implemented in 1994 in two inner-city areas in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, New Hope was an innovative program designed to address problems in the low-wage labor market. Based on the simple premise that people who work full time should not be poor, New Hope provided full-time workers with several benefits: an earnings supplement to raise their income above poverty, low-cost health insurance, and subsidized child care. For those unable to find full-time work, the program offered help in finding a job and referral to a wage-paying community service job when necessary. During the demonstration project, each of these benefits was available for up to three years.

New Hope’s designers expected that its combination of benefits and services would have the direct effects of increasing parents’ employment and income and their use of health insurance and licensed child care. These effects, in turn, might influence the well-being of these adults and their families. MDRC, along with researchers from the University of Texas at Austin, UCLA, Northwestern University, and the University of North Carolina, examined New Hope’s effects in a large-scale random assignment study. This report, the final one in a series, summarizes the program’s implementation and effects over eight years — the first three years while the program operated and five years after it had ended. The findings show that work supports can have a range of positive effects on low-income families and their children. Although the economic effects on employment and income lasted for most families only during the three years in which New Hope operated, some effects on children lasted into the longer term…

Making Work Pay II – Comprehensive Health Insurance for Low-Income Working Families

Source: Cynthia Perry, Linda J. Blumberg, Urban Institute, July 16, 2008

From the abstract:
Only 37 percent of adults in low-income working families had employer-sponsored health insurance and 42 percent had no coverage. Health care costs are also rapidly rising out of reach for even middle-income Americans. In this essay, Perry and Blumberg propose comprehensive reform that ensures coverage for everyone at every income level, while still encouraging work. Their proposals include state purchasing pools, individual mandates, and strategies for reducing health care costs.
See also:
A New Safety Net for Low-Income Families
Enabling Families to Weather Emergencies and Develop
Supporting Work for Low-Income People with Significant Challenges
A Decent Standard of Living for Working Families

Why the United States Needs an Improved Measure of Poverty

Source: Rebecca M. Blank, Brookings Institution, Testimony before the Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support of the House Committee on Ways and Means, July 17, 2008

From the summary:
An economic measure of poverty requires two definitions. First, one needs to define a poverty line or poverty threshold, the level of income or other resources below which a particular type of family is considered poor. Second, one needs to define a resource measure, which delineates the ways an individual family’s economic resources will be counted. The poverty count is the number of people who live in families with resources below the poverty threshold.

I emphasize these definitional items because it is important to think about poverty lines and resource definitions together. A statistically credible measure of poverty should have a poverty threshold that is consistent with its resource measure, so that the two can be used together. Unlike Representative McDermott’s proposed legislation, many proposed changes in poverty measurement in the past have emphasized changing the way in which family resources are counted, without proposing to change the poverty threshold in a consistent way.

There are serious problems in the current poverty measure with both the threshold definition and the resource definition. No simple, minor change will make this historical poverty measure accurate; a major redefinition is required.

State Strategies to Reduce Child and Family Poverty

Source: National Governors Association, Issue Brief, June 2008

From the press release:
As families across the nation face financial hardships and economic insecurity, states continue to lead the way in developing solutions to help families ensure their economic well-being. These efforts are highlighted in a new Issue Brief from the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) titled State Strategies to Reduce Child and Family Poverty.

The brief examines the long-term social and economic costs of poverty for children and families, communities and states. In addition, State Strategies to Reduce Child and Family Poverty explores several policy and program options helping to reduce the negative consequences of poverty for children and increase opportunities for families to achieve economic success.

Family Resource Simulator

Source: National Center for Children in Poverty, 2008

The Family Resource Simulator illustrates the impact of “work supports”–such as earned income tax credits and child care assistance–on the budget of a hypothetical family. Based on the answers provided on steps 1 through 7, the Simulator generates graphs that show how family resources and expenses change as earnings increase.

Implementing New Changes to the Food Stamp Program: A Provision By Provision Analysis of The 2008 Farm Bill

Source: Stacy Dean, Colleen Pawling, Dorothy Rosenbaum, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, July 1, 2008

From the summary:
The 2008 Farm Bill makes numerous improvements to the Food Stamp Program that will help low-income Americans put food on the table in the face of rising food and fuel prices. Over the 2009-2017 period, the Farm Bill will add $7.8 billion in new resources for the program, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). The major food stamp provisions will:

• End years of erosion in the purchasing power of food stamps
• Support working-poor families.
• Promote saving
• Simplify food stamp administration
• Rename and update the program
• Strengthen program operations, integrity, and oversight and modernize benefit delivery