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Federal anti-poverty programs work!

Written by Diane Archer

Alexia Campbell reports for Vox on new 2017 poverty and income data from the Census Bureau. The data show that federal anti-poverty programs work. But, President Trump and the GOP are looking to slash their budgets and make it harder to qualify for them.

The good news from the Census Bureau is that 2.4 million more Americans had full time jobs in 2017.  In addition, household income was up a bit, and the official poverty rate dropped from 12.7 to 12.3 percent.

The bad news is that women are still earning 80 percent of what men earn. As bad, millions of people with full time jobs qualify for welfare because they are paid poverty-level wages; and income was up principally for the wealthiest Americans.

Incomes dropped for the poorest Americans, people with incomes averaging just over $14,000 a year. In 2017, the federal poverty level was $12,060.

The data also show the valuable benefits of Social Security and safety net programs such as food stamps, disability insurance, refundable tax credits and help with housing costs. These programs help tens of millions of minimum and low-wage workers. Nearly 45 million workers avoided poverty with the help of these programs.

Social Security alone kept 27 million people from falling into poverty.

But, health care costs undermined the economic security of almost 11 million people, pushing them into poverty. Health care costs are a growing driver of impoverishment in the U.S. In 2016, health care costs drove 10.5 million people into poverty. One year later, health care costs drove 10.9 million people into poverty, 400,000 more people.

President Trump and the GOP’s 2019 budget slashes funding for these social safety net programs, including a 7.1 percent cut to Medicare. Trump and the GOP also want to add work requirements, which will disqualify many people from these programs without improving their lives. The data show that work requirements don’t bring people out of poverty because people’s wages generally are very low.

And, many programs already have work requirements, including food stamps. Unless you are disabled or have children, you must work 80 hours a month.

Medicaid does not have work requirements under federal law, but two-thirds of people with Medicaid work. And a large portion of those who do not work have serious disabilities and other conditions that leave them unable to work.

Here’s more from Just Care:

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1 Comment

  • …why do the Republicans want to gut these programmes?

    First: Because they can get away with it having a majority in both houses of Congress, a president who will “rubber stamp” what they do, and a Supreme Court which will go to bat for them.

    Second: Conservative and Right Wing Republicans see anyone as needing assistance as being “lazy and good for nothing”. It doesn’t matter if they are old, physically broken down, or work for a company that pays crap wages. It doesn’t matter that wages in the blue collar (non college degree) sector have remained relatively stagnant (and have been so for decades) compared to living costs and productivity demands which have continued to increase over the years. People are working harder and for much less today than in the past.

    Third: Related to the last statement above, they think that just because you are working, everything is OK and you don’t need extra help, even though most of the new jobs are in low paying occupations, and many are only part time (so businesses can skirt offering benefits like sick leave and healthcare). Add to this, policies like At Will Employment, Right To Work laws, and most recently, forced arbitration, all which hand more power to management while undermining what few rights and protections workers have left. Companies like Amazon, Walmart, and others use this as a means to keep workers “in line” and wages low so workers have no choice but seek some form of assistance to make ends meet. In this way, these businesses are actually being subsidised by the taxpayers.

    Third: For many, this is “socialism”, and in their view that is bad as it can only lead to the next step, “communism”. I have been hearing this more and more on blogs and forums. We are in a new “Red Scare” where citizen is being pitted against citizen just like in the post WW II era. Yet these same politicians and people support the idea of a military, police departments, fire departments, highway departments, and are not bothered at all about drawing Social Security, all of which are “socialist” programmes as they are paid for by tax dollars (or in the case of Social Security, employee contributions).

    Finally: They feel this is necessary to offset their generous tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations. Social programmes are “easy pickin’s” because in the eyes of Republicans and their supporters, people who benefit from these programmes are, as I mentioned, considered nothing but “lazy takers”. Never mind the high profits companies enjoy by paying low wages while offering fewer worker benefits (contract jobs, which are becoming increasingly popular in the tech sector, are another way for a company to relieve itself of the responsibility for providing benefits as contract workers are effectively considered “self employed” and the company can make what ever demands it wants as part of the contract which is binding).

    The bottom line is, if “trickle down” actually worked the way it was promised to, people wouldn’t be struggling, holding down two or even three jobs just to get by month to month, public education wouldn’t be in the shape it is, our infrastructure would not be in the shape it is, people wouldn’t have to choose between rent or healthcare, and homelessness would not be the issue it is today. We also would not have the ever widening gap in wealth as we are seeing which has eclipsed that of the robber baron era over 100 years ago.

    Now once again they promise things will be better for us if they give those at the top even more. That may have worked in the days when it took long hard research to figure out what really was happening, but in this age of instant information, it no longer does. We have already seen that corporations primarily used the December cuts for stock buybacks and maybe giving out a one time bonus or paltry pay raise to workers to “look good”. Trickle down has been the new “Big Lie” as like we have seen, the only ones it actually enriches are those at the top who simply hoard it.

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