Giving Thanks for Effective Anti-Poverty Programs

Thursday, November 24, 2011 at 12:27 AM by

When we give thanks on Thursday, let’s remember that there are many public programs providing critically important assistance to people who aren’t as fortunate. Among those important government programs are a number that are succeeding in lifting low-wage Americans and unemployed workers out of poverty. Unfortunately, some of those programs are under assault.

In two WCCF blog posts yesterday, we examined: 1) the new Supplemental Poverty Measure developed by the Census Bureau, and 2) a special analysis using that measure, which was done for the New York Times to examine the role of various government programs in helping lift millions of Americans out of poverty. That analysis, which the Times reported on over the weekend, found that a surprisingly large number of Americans – 51 million according to the Supplemental Poverty measure – are in a category called the “near poor” between 100 and 150 percent of the poverty line.  The special analysis found that nearly 20 percent of the people in that group were kept above the poverty line by government programs that supplement income.

The second of those WCCF blog posts also explains that a number of the state and federal budget cuts that have been made this year or are looming will harm the near poor. One federal example is the extended federal unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed, which may be coming to an abrupt end soon if Congress doesn’t act. A state example is the set of dramatic changes to BadgerCare proposed by the Department of Health Services.

Let’s give thanks on Thursday that successful government programs have been keeping out of poverty tens of thousands of low-wage Wisconsinites, and let’s also be thankful that it’s not too late to preserve and protect those programs.

Jon Peacock

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