Paul Ryan has a released a new poverty plan that advocates consolidating federal safety net programs and turning the money over to the states. It’s always worth taking a look at changes that could make anti-poverty program more effective, but Ryan’s approach would decrease opportunity for individuals living in poverty, not increase it.
Ryan frames his new proposal as aimed at giving low-income people the tools they need to make ends meet and lift themselves out of poverty. According to his proposal, Expanding Opportunity in America:
“A key tenet of the American Dream is that where you start off shouldn’t determine where you end up. If you work hard and play by the rules, you should get ahead. But the fact is, far too many people are stuck on the lower rungs…There are many factors beyond public policy that affect upward mobility. But public policy is still a factor, and government has a role to play in providing a safety net and expanding opportunity for all.”
Ryan believes that a fundamental redesign of how federal anti-poverty programs deliver services can help expand opportunity across the board. Read more
Fast food workers in Wisconsin are part of a national strike to rally for higher wages. Strikes took place in Milwaukee, Madison, Wausau, and other Wisconsin cities. Workers are advocating for a wage floor of $15 an hour.
Nearly 900,000 people in Wisconsin will see a cut in their food assistance benefits starting Friday, making it harder for many Wisconsin families to put food on the table, according to a new Wisconsin Budget Project report.
The across-the-board cuts will reduce food assistance by $89 million in this fiscal year, when a boost to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, also known as food stamps), is set to expire.
Wisconsin children will be especially hard hit by the cut, as 1 out of 3 Wisconsin children received SNAP benefits last year. In some areas of the state, such as Milwaukee and rural counties in northern Wisconsin, SNAP is such an important support for families that more than half the children receive assistance over the course of the year.
In addition to helping feed hungry families, SNAP is one of the fastest, most effective ways to stimulate a struggling economy. Read more
A Significant Economic Hit to the National Economy and a Gradually Expanding Erosion of Key Programs
Economists expect the federal government shutdown to have significant adverse consequences for the national economy. This LA Times article reports that some project that even just a two-week partial shutdown will cause a reduction of 0.3 to 0.4 of a percentage point from national economic growth in the fourth quarter. That’s particularly a problem when the economic recovery is already so sluggish that job growth has been barely keeping ahead of population growth.
I worry about those economic consequences, but I am also very concerned about the effects of the shutdown on children and families in our state – especially for low-income and vulnerable families. Fortunately, most federally funded programs for those families will continue at least through October, but the consequences could be very serious for vulnerable families if the shutdown lasts well into the fall. Read more
Poverty Remains High, Median Income Remains Low, and Health Insurance Coverage Improves Modestly
Data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau reinforce the recent findings by economists that there is a very wide gap between the rich and the poor. The new Census figures for 2012 from the Current Population Survey (CPS) show that the painfully slow economic recovery has yet to help a large segment of Americans. Poverty remained high last year, at 15% nationally, and median income remained low — 8.3% below the 2007 level, before the Great Recession began.
In a New York Times blog post this afternoon, a graph prepared by Jared Bernstein uses the 2012 Census Bureau data to illustrate the diverging trend lines since 1967 in the household income of low, middle and upper income Americans. And as Bernstein notes, the divergence would be much wider if the Census Bureau didn’t exclude capital gains income from its data. Read more
One in nine households in Wisconsin has difficulty providing food for all their members due to a lack of resources, according to a new report from the U.S Department of Agriculture. That rate is sharply up from a decade ago, when one in 12 Wisconsin households faced food insecurity.
The chart below shows the percentage of Wisconsin households with food insecurity at different points over the last decade: 8.1% in 2000-02, 11.4% in 2007-09, and 11.2% in 2010-12.
About one in 20 Wisconsin households face very low food security, a more severe form of food insecurity that means that the food intake of household members was reduced and normal eating patterns were reduced due to limited resources.
Nationally, about one in seven households struggled with food insecurity in 2012, including one out of five households with children.
One of the most effective tools we have to combat food insecurity is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP or food stamps. Read more
More than 800,000 people in Wisconsin will see a cut in their food assistance benefits this fall, when a temporary boost to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) is set to expire, according to new data released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) discussed in a new report from the Washington, DC-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
All of the more than 47 million Americans, including 22 million children, who receive SNAP, (also known as FoodShare in Wisconsin) will see their food assistance reduced, when a modest boost in benefits to SNAP recipients that policymakers included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to strengthen the economy and ease hardship expires on October 31. For a family of three, that cut will mean a reduction of $29 a month— $319 for the remaining 11 months of the fiscal year. This is a serious loss for families whose benefits, after this cut, will average less than $1.40 per person per meal. Read more
IRP Research Shows Antipoverty Programs Reduced Unofficial Poverty Rate in Wisconsin in 2010
A report released Wednesday by the Institute for Research on Poverty (IRP) at UW Madison examines the effects of the antipoverty programs on the poverty rate in Wisconsin. Not surprisingly, the official measure of poverty shows an increase in Wisconsin between 2009 and 2010. However, the IRP’s alternative gauge of poverty (the “Wisconsin Poverty Measure” or WPM) showed a decrease in the poverty from 11.1% to 10.3%.
Whereas the official poverty measure is based just on pre-tax cash income, the WPM uses a broader lens that also examines taxes, tax credits, and “near cash” income such as food stamps. Last year the IRP concluded that from 2008 to 2009 the alternative poverty measure was flat in Wisconsin, because the drop in families’ income was offset by tax credits and food assistance benefits, which were enhanced that year by the federal Recovery Act. Read more
Katniss. Gale. Peeta. Panem. If these names mean nothing to you, you’ve been able to avoid the hype of The Hunger Games, now showing in movie theaters. Many Wisconsin families are living out their own version of the Hunger Games. One in four Wisconsin children live in families that depend on food stamps to make ends meet, and the number of Wisconsin residents receiving food stamp assistance has more than doubled in the last four years.
The federal budget proposed by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) would make deep cuts to food stamp spending, while handing out enormous tax cuts to the best-off.
For more information about Wisconsin’s own version of the Hunger Games, read the newest blog post by the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families.
Tamarine Cornelius Read more
Did the Recovery Act reduce the number of people living in poverty during the recession? That’s a natural question to ask, but unfortunately, traditional measures of poverty aren’t of much use in providing an answer. That’s because the official poverty measure doesn’t take into account tax credits, food stamps, or other important forms of Recovery Act assistance that gave a boost to families struggling to lift themselves out of poverty.
Researchers in Wisconsin have pioneered an alternative measure, called the Wisconsin Poverty Measure, which takes a broader look at a family’s resources and paints a more complete picture of a family’s poverty status. The Wisconsin Poverty Measure – which we’ve highlighted in our blog here and here has garnered national attention, most recently in a August 8 post by Brookings called “Better Data, Better Outcomes: How Public Policy is Helping Poor Children.”
Using the Wisconsin Poverty Measure, researchers have shown that there was no increase in child poverty between 2008 and 2009. Read more