Friday, August 22, 2008


Like the Work & Family plank, the poverty plank expresses promising commitments -- especially the goal of cutting poverty in half within ten years. Notably, the plank explicitly notices that the majority of adults in poverty are women and links fair pay and support for mothers to poverty's cure.

But beyond admittedly welcome platitudes, the plank is mostly bromide. Expand the EITC; raise and index the minimum wage; strengthen unions; increase affordable housing -- we've heard this before. These are important ingredients of an anti-poverty policy, but they are not enough.

Real change would include consideration of expanded income programs, especially for caregivers; reformed and expanded unemployment insurance to assure income to workers who must leave jobs, whose jobs are taken away, who are stuck in part-time employment, or who need to overcome barriers to employment such as domestic violence, substance abuse, or mental health issues; the addition of a caregiver credit to the social security benefits calculation; paid family leave; universal child care; universal, single payer health provision; transportation offsets for low-income workers who must commute long distances to jobs; economic assistance for education and training; an end to labor market discrimination; a living wage.

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