RELEASE: CAP Releases Progressive Policy Agenda to Cut Poverty and Expand Mobility

Washington, D.C. — New analysis by the Center for American Progress finds that if not for the dramatic rise in economic insecurity since 2000, nearly 13 million fewer Americans would be living on the brink, with incomes less than 200 percent of the federal poverty line. This analysis arrives along with CAP’s comprehensive agenda to cut poverty and expand opportunity in the United States.

The new report offers a review of policies that will create good jobs and boost wages, support strong and healthy families, ensure basic living standards, invest in human capital, and remove barriers to opportunity. CAP’s report arrives as House Republicans, led by Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), are expected to release their own poverty proposals this week.

Tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. ET, the Center for American Progress Action Fund will host an event with Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI), Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), and CAP Action President and CEO Neera Tanden. They will discuss progressive strategies for implementing these policies in the next Congress and administration and how Speaker Ryan’s and his colleagues’ proposals measure up. RSVP to attend or watch the live stream here.

RELATED: I Told Paul Ryan What It’s Like to Live in Poverty. Here’s What Happened Next by Tianna Gaines-Turner for TalkPoverty.org

“Widening inequality is not inevitable or intractable. CAP is outlining ideas to ensure social mobility for all Americans. And it is a decision we make to address these challenges or not,” said CAP President and CEO Neera Tanden. “It is long past time to put the failed theory of trickle-down economics in the rearview mirror where it belongs and work together to build an economy that benefits everyone.”

As part of his remarks, Sen. Brown will preview legislation to make the tax code work better for working families.

“Our economy was built on the simple idea that if you work hard you can succeed, but too many Americans are putting in long hours but barely getting by, let alone getting ahead,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown. “We cannot allow American workers to be taxed into poverty. It’s past time to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit for all American workers.”

CAP’s policy framework covers five main areas:

1. Building better jobs and wages

More and better jobs must be a centerpiece of any serious agenda to cut poverty and ensure families can get into—and stay in—the middle class. CAP’s report addresses policies to raise wages, make the tax code work better for low-wage working families, guarantee basic labor standards, and ensure equal pay, as well as supporting job creation tools such as apprenticeships, national service programs, and subsidized employment.

2. Valuing all families

Stable and healthy families are a core ingredient for economic security and well-being. To achieve this, CAP recommends policies along four key pillars: strengthen families’ economic foundations, ease tensions between work and family life, help keep families together, and invest in services and supports to increase family well-being and parenting with dignity.

3. Ensuring basic living standards

In addition to cutting poverty by nearly half today, the vital programs in the social safety net promote mobility in the long term through better health, education, and employment outcomes. The report highlights the importance of protecting and strengthening vital assistance programs, including nutrition assistance, Social Security and Supplemental Security Income, unemployment insurance, health care, and affordable housing, as well as reforming counterproductive savings and ownership penalties in aid programs.

4. Investing in human capital

In order to build an economy in which everyone has the chance to succeed, CAP recommends policies such as putting high-quality, affordable child care and preschool within reach, preparing K-12 students for college and a career, and expanding access to higher education.

5. Removing barriers to opportunity

In addition to enacting policies that pave pathways for individuals and families to get ahead, policymakers must also address the barriers that stand in their way. The report covers policies ensuring that children’s ZIP codes do not determine their life chances, breaking the link between mass incarceration and poverty, giving workers with disabilities a fair shot, and promoting financial empowerment.

Key facts and figures

  • If not for the dramatic rise in economic insecurity since 2000, nearly 13 million fewer Americans would be living on the edge today, according to a CAP analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.
  • One in three Americans—more than 105 million people—live in poverty or are teetering on the economic brink with incomes of less than twice the poverty line, or $47,668 per year for a family of four.
  • Approximately 70 percent of American will need to turn to the safety net at some point during their working years.
  • The social safety net cut poverty by 40 percent from 1967 to 2012.
  • Child poverty costs the national economy $672 billion per year—nearly 4 percent of gross domestic product.
  • Review state-by-state poverty figures at TalkPoverty.org.

Read the full report, “A Progressive Agenda to Cut Poverty and Expand Opportunity” by Melissa Boteach, Rebecca Vallas, and Eliza Schultz, online here.

In addition to the report, CAP also published a new column today that looks at evidence-based policymaking and how it should not be used as a buzzword to justify cuts to programs that help struggling families. Read “3 Ways to Tell Someone is Serious About Evidence-Based Policy” by Melissa Boteach and Harry Stein online here.

Related resources:

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, contact Liz Bartolomeo at or 202.481.8151.

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