If you look at the official poverty numbers, you will see that after an initial drop in the 1960s, the percentage of Americans living in poverty (incomes below the poverty line), has remained essentially the same. A reasonable conclusion may be that not much has been done to raise these people out of poverty and that families in poverty tend to remain there though generations. It would also seem reasonable (to me at least) that the way to get out of poverty is by creating the means to raise ones income and thereby the opportunities that go with a higher income.
But here’s why we talk past either other left, right and center. We are not even on the same page. The liberal definition as explained below is not lifting or forcing (or incentivizing) people out of poverty, but as Ben Franklin feared, “making them more comfortable in it.”
How by any reasonable logic can a person making $12,000 in 2008 and also $12,000 in 2016 be considered out of poverty because they now receive food stamps and a tax credit? They have gone nowhere, they have no incentive to become more employable … they are trapped because increases in income must overcome loss of government subsidies before gaining any ground.
How is this defined as progress? Shouldn’t the number of people living in poverty be dropping because their incomes are rising? Shouldn’t the number of people dependent on SNAP or tax credits or other assistance be declining to claim Americans have been lifted out of poverty and that government has done something right? 😏
First, Dylan Matthews has already dissected the claim that poverty hasn’t declined. It has. It’s just that the “official” poverty rate doesn’t factor in the earned-income tax credit or food stamps in its calculations. Given that these are two of the most direct ways that the government tries to lift people out of poverty, that’s a major problem. These programs do, in fact, lift people out of poverty–it just doesn’t show up in the official rate, because that’s how the rate is constructed. Source: Washington Post January 2014