Our nation unequivocally boasts the resources to dramatically cut poverty while simultaneously cutting the federal government’s long-term deficit. Unfortunately, too many of our political leaders put these two goals at odds, arguing that the way to stabilize our fiscal outlook is to hand the bill to middle- and low-income Americans. The House Republican leadership, for example, pushed through the chamber a budget in April that seeks nearly two-thirds of its cuts from programs helping low-income Americans, gutting health care, education, nutritional assistance, and investments that help struggling families make it into the middle class.
But this argument that poverty reduction and deficit reduction are mutually exclusive shows a lack of imagination. The Center for American Progress has outlined investments to restore broadly shared economic prosperity, balanced with tax reform that raises needed revenue and strategic cuts that could set us on a course to put our fiscal house in order over the next several decades.
Indeed, this myth that we can’t afford to cut poverty reveals not only a lack of imagination but also a lack of historical perspective. In the 1980s and 1990s, nearly every major bipartisan deficit reduction package simultaneously protected and invested in programs that help struggling families access greater economic opportunity. A new timeline from Sophie Feldman and Melissa Boteach details these past bipartisan agreements that have cut both poverty and the deficit.
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