Poverty and Income

Greenstein: Ryan “Opportunity Grant” Proposal Would Likely Increase Poverty and Shrink Resources for Poverty Programs Over Time

A centerpiece of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s new poverty plan would consolidate 11 safety-net and related programs — from food stamps to housing vouchers, child care, and the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) — into a single block grant to states.  This new “Opportunity Grant” would operate initially in an unspecified number of states.  While some other elements of the Ryan poverty plan deserve serious consideration, such as those relating to the Earned Income Tax Credit and criminal justice reform, his “Opportunity Grant” would likely increase poverty and hardship, and is therefore ill-advised, for several reasons.

Related: Ryan Roundup: What You Need to Know About Chairman Ryan’s Poverty Proposal

 

Deep Poverty Among Children Worsened in Welfare Law’s First Decade

Since the mid-1990s, when policymakers made major changes in the public assistance system, the proportion of children living in poverty has declined, but the harshest extremes of child poverty have increased.

Related: Why the 1996 Welfare Law Is Not a Model for Other Safety-Net Programs

 

Chart Book: The War on Poverty at 50, Overview

As we mark the 50th anniversary of President Johnson's War on Poverty, we should recognize that poverty has fallen significantly over the last half-century when measured using a comprehensive poverty measure, and other troubling poverty-related conditions have declined.

Related:

 

Ryan Plan Gets 69 Percent of Its Budget Cuts From Programs for People With Low or Moderate Incomes

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s new budget cuts $3.3 trillion over ten years (2015-2024) from programs that serve people of limited means. That’s 69 percent of its $4.8 trillion in total non-defense budget cuts.

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Basics

The poverty guideline, the federal government’s estimate of a minimum income used in determining eligibility for many federal programs, is $23,850 for a family of four in 2014, $11,670 for a single individual, and $4,060 for each additional person. The federal minimum wage is currently $7.25 per hour, though many states (and some municipalities) have set their own minimum wages at a higher level.

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The Center analyzes major economic developments affecting low- and moderate-income Americans, including trends in poverty, income inequality, and the working poor.  In addition, we analyze the asset rules in various public benefit programs that can discourage low-income people from building modest savings and highlight potential reforms.

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