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Robert Reich: New evidence that poverty is a policy option – OpEd

Poverty is a policy option. we have chose A large section of our population is poor, including – especially – our country’s children.

When I say we chose it, I mean it didn’t have to be this way. There is no law of nature or principle of economics or constitutional provision that would determine such a high number of people in poverty within the richest country in the history of the world.

Census data released Tuesday provides clear evidence of the choice we have made. Number of people with income below poverty line in 2022 Rose From 15.3 million. for poverty rate Children More than doubling – from a historic low of 5.2 percent in 2021 to 12.4 percent in 2022.

The United States has experienced the largest increase in child poverty since existing models for measuring the economic crisis were developed in 2009. All the record gains made against child poverty in the last two years have been wiped out.

The reason for this extraordinary increase in poverty? Not an epidemic. Not a terrible recession. No economic recession. The number of unemployed people has not increased much. In fact, employment is high.

According to the Census Bureau, this is due to Congress’s refusal to renew the enhanced child tax credit, which was developed during the COVID-19 pandemic. That termination was a policy choice.

Poverty has increased because as a nation we decided (through our representatives in Congress) to eliminate relatively modest monthly bumps in federal aid – $250 to $300 a month for families with children.

Over the past year, that modest surge had the surprising effect of cutting child poverty rates by almost half. When lawmakers expanded the child tax credit in 2021, fewer children lived in poverty. When they fail to continue the expansion in 2022, child poverty more than doubles.

Ergo, two policy choices by Congress – one that dramatically cut child poverty, followed by another that dramatically increased it.

Who actually chose this option in Congress? Republicans and a handful of Democrats such as Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. He rejected efforts by the Biden administration and most congressional Democrats to maintain the enhanced child tax credit.

Although House Democrats supported the proposed extension of the credit, Senate Democrats needed all 50 members of their caucus to pass the legislation through the reconciliation process. Manchin refused to go along unless his colleagues accepted a plan to punish parents with work requirements and other restrictions.

Sinema also declined, as noted by the campaign of U.S. Representative Ruben Gallego, an Arizona Democrat who is running to replace Sinema in 2024. (Let’s do everything we can to make sure he does.)

Ending poverty is not difficult, especially for wealthy countries like the United States. We know exactly how to do this. We Did it. then we undo it. In fact, the United States is now making a concerted effort to impoverish millions of our children.

as John Nichols Nation Reminds us, our success in reducing poverty is similar to that of the 1930s, when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt responded to the Great Depression with myriad job creation, rural development, and social safety net programs (including Social Security) that created new The deal was formed.

When FDR took office in 1933, the unemployment rate in America was near 25 percent. After eight years of federal intervention by the Roosevelt administration, it was reduced to about 10 percent when World War II began.

Similarly, just before Lyndon Johnson enacted the Medicare and Medicaid Act through Congress in 1965, 22 percent of Americans were poor. When Johnson left office, it was about 13 percent. Why the decline? Because Medicare and Medicaid have addressed a major driver of poverty among the elderly – medical costs. And other Great Society initiatives, such as expanded nutrition and housing programs, contributed to the decline.

This is not rocket science. The expanded child tax credit nearly cut child poverty in half. Sinema, Manchin and the GOP let it languish and child poverty soar.

This is not just a policy option. This is a moral choice. In the richest country in the world, it is unforgivable that millions of our children are living in poverty. It is not necessary for them to be there.

Friends, expanding the child tax credit should be a top tax policy priority this year and during the 2025 tax debate. Duration.

This article was published on Substack by Robert Reich

Source: www.eurasiareview.com

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