Afternoon Must-Read: Robert E. Rubin, Roger C. Altman and Melissa Kearney: How We Are Making the Poor Poorer Still
Robert E. Rubin, Roger C. Altman and Melissa Kearney: Making the poor--and the U.S.--poorer still:
Congress may take up legislation this week to cut food stamps. The Senate passed a bill in June mandating $4 billion in cuts over 10 years; the House version, passed in September, imposes nearly $40 billion in reductions.... This negotiation is occurring amid the worst poverty levels in two decades, a weak overall economy and rapidly falling budget deficits. Under these circumstances, it would be economically and morally unsound to carry out the cuts.... 15 percent of the population--nearly 47 million people--lives in poverty, including 22 percent of children.... For a family of four, the poverty threshold is $24,000 or less.... Roughly 18 million other people are near-poor, living within 130 percent of the poverty line.... Most Americans living in poverty experience hunger or the pervasive fear of it.... Total federal spending on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), this country’s main hunger prevention program, was $82.5 billion in fiscal 2013... [in a] $16 trillion economy.... It is hard to reconcile traditional American values of hard work and generosity with the levels of poverty and fear of hunger in our country.... It has been a generation since our country last had a robust conversation about combatting poverty. Now is the time to reinvigorate that conversation, not cut needed benefits.