The Center for American Progress (CAP) hosted a conversation on June 7th with Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Steny Hoyer (D-MD), and Gwen Moore (D-WI) regarding policies to reduce poverty and advance economic opportunity for the more than 105 million Americans living in or bordering on poverty. The discussion was prefaced by remarks from Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Jessica Martin, a board member of Restaurant Opportunities Center United and living-wage-advocate.
The event came on the heels of the release of CAP’s policy report titled “A Progressive Agenda to Cut Poverty and Expand Opportunity” and the House Republican anti-poverty plan titled “A Better Way: Poverty, Opportunity, and Upward Mobility.” (See related article about the House GOP plan in this Memo to Members.)
CAP’s report highlights the role that Social Security, tax credits for working families, and nutrition assistance programs have played in poverty mitigation over the past half-century but notes that many Americans struggle to achieve financial stability amidst stagnant wages. The CAP report offers progressive policy guidance in strategic areas including wages, job quality, housing, and education. Among suggested measures are increased investments in housing voucher programs, expansion of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, and the elimination of exclusionary zoning. The report also highlights the necessity of providing access to affordable housing for individuals with criminal records.
Senator Brown echoed the guidance of the CAP report in his opening remarks. He emphasized the importance that low-income tax credits, including the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), have had for struggling Americans, and advised that legislators work to expand the EITC to younger individuals and those without children. Senator Brown stated that there should be “no tax breaks for corporations without tax breaks for working families.”
Representatives Hoyer and DeLauro addressed the Republican anti-poverty plan, with Ms. DeLauro expressing concern that “the plan would increase poverty,” and Mr. Hoyer remarking that the agenda constitutes a “new spin on a bad deal.” Both representatives agreed that the premise upon which the Republican plan is founded—that the initiatives born out of the War on Poverty had been a complete failure—is false. Ms. DeLauro noted that the social safety net had helped reduce poverty by 40% between 1967 and 2012, and she admonished the Republicans for asserting that benefits and assistance programs need to be overhauled or eliminated.
Representative Moore spoke to what she perceived as a demonization of America’s poor. She noted the discrepancy between stereotypes of benefit recipients as lazy and the reality that a great number of those who are poor are working and caring for families. Ms. Moore and Ms. DeLauro both remarked that future policy must strengthen provisions around healthcare, equal pay, and childcare assistance. Representative Hoyer remarked that “when we lift up others, we lift up ourselves.”
Read the CAP report at: http://ampr.gs/1ZsqO9n