Washington, DC—Today the Center for American Progress released a new report from its Task Force on Poverty—From Poverty to Prosperity: A National Strategy to Cut Poverty in Half. CAP formed the task force over a year ago to tackle the persistent problems of poverty. With one in eight Americans living in poverty, and inequality at record highs, the time for action is now. The report recommends that the United States set a goal of cutting poverty in half over the next 10 years. This strategy should be guided by four principles:
- Promote Decent Work.
- Provide Opportunity for All.
- Ensure Economic Security.
- Help People Build Wealth.
The report recommends 12 key steps that will reduce poverty in half in 10 years:
- Raise and index the minimum wage to half the average hourly wage.
- Expand the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit.
- Promote unionization by enacting the Employee Free Choice Act.
- Guarantee child care assistance to low-income families and promote early education for all.
- Create two million new “opportunity” housing vouchers and promote equitable development in and around central cities.
- Connect disadvantaged and disconnected youth with school and work.
- Simplify and expand Pell Grants and make higher education accessible to residents of each state.
- Help former prisoners find stable employment and reintegrate into their communities.
- Ensure equity for low-wage workers in the Unemployment Insurance system.
- Modernize means-tested benefits programs to develop a coordinated system that helps workers and families.
- Reduce the high costs of being poor and increase access to financial services.
- Expand and simplify the Saver’s Credit to encourage saving for education, homeownership and retirement.
Modeling from the Urban Institute estimates that four of these steps alone would reduce poverty by 26 percent—more than halfway towards the goal. Among their findings:
- Taken together, the minimum wage, EITC, child credit, and child care recommendations would reduce poverty by 26 percent.
- The racial poverty gap would be narrowed.
- Child poverty and extreme poverty would both fall.
- Millions of low- and moderate-income families would benefit.
“A nation as wealthy as ours shouldn’t have 37 million people living in poverty, and tens of millions more struggling to make ends meet,” said CAP Poverty Task Force Executive Director Mark Greenberg. “Research and experience shows us what’s effective. What we need now is action.”
Poverty in the Unites States is far higher than in many other developed nations. At the turn of the 21st century, the United States ranked 24th among 25 countries when measuring the share of the population below 50 percent of median income. But the solutions to this problem are not out of reach. In communities across the nation, policymakers, business people, people of faith, and concerned citizens are coming together. The commitment of these groups and CAP’s recommendations will all help move the nation closer to ending poverty.