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(10,432 posts)
Mon Nov 20, 2023, 05:28 PM Nov 2023

We've been fighting poverty all wrong

The success of the expanded child tax credit shows why anti-poverty programs should be unconditional.


Since 1975, the safety net excluded the poorest from assistance, believing that this would motivate them to get a job. That's called a phase-in. Removing a phase-in gives assistance starting with zero income.

The consensus excluding the poorest Americans from some forms of government assistance through phase-ins held until President Joe Biden’s 2021 American Rescue Plan. Its anti-poverty centerpiece was to cut phase-ins from the existing CTC and crank up the payment, creating what’s known as the expanded CTC.

The results were historic. Over the course of 2021, child poverty was cut nearly in half, and the long-running fear at the heart of the American welfare system — that unconditional aid would discourage work — never came to pass.


Then, to the dismay of advocates and recipients alike, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) blocked the Democratic Party’s effort to make the expansion permanent, fearing, among other familiar concerns like the cost, that recipients would just buy drugs (the data shows that recipients spent the money on food, clothes, utilities, rent, and education). Come 2022, phase-ins returned to the CTC, approximately 3.7 million children were immediately thrust back into poverty in January, and the rest of the year saw the sharpest rise in the history of recorded child poverty rates.


Unconditional anti-poverty policies would mark a significant shift from the safety net of the past few decades. But the year-long experiment with eliminating phase-ins was the largest signal yet that they work, at least in the short term. And in the long term, tenuous concerns over what might happen generations down the line do not justify leaving millions of children in avoidable poverty today.

Lots more at Vox.
Reminder to get out the vote!!!

14 replies = new reply since forum marked as read
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(6,483 posts)
1. Excellent points!
Mon Nov 20, 2023, 05:38 PM
Nov 2023

And I agree we need to run on restoring this credit as a major pledge for President Biden’s second term and strive to get a sizable enough majority in the Senate so Rethuglicans and quislings like Mansion and Cinema can’t stop it.

Response to usonian (Original post)


(20,814 posts)
5. Those of us who have been fighting this fight since the mid-20th Century could tell you...
Mon Nov 20, 2023, 06:06 PM
Nov 2023

...that this was the original intent of all the Sargent Shriver programs. No means testing, no conditions, no work requirements.

So what stopped it?

One thing: Those pesky people with not-white skins. If you made all these programs unconditional and universally available, some of them might get help.

If they got help, they might actually succeed in increasing their economic base, on an individual level, on a family level, even shudder-shudder, whiteJesus forbid, on a community level.

And then they'd get even more uppity.

And we couldn't have that, nosiree.

It's the racism. It's ALWAYS been the racism.

As American as apple pie, cross burnings and detention camps.



(62,058 posts)
9. I agree with you. Racism is the reason we have few safety nets.
Mon Nov 20, 2023, 06:28 PM
Nov 2023

People's prejudices and biases interfere with their willingness to help others.


(10,432 posts)
11. Agree. It was always about racism. It still is. They just use different words.
Mon Nov 20, 2023, 06:54 PM
Nov 2023

I hated the insidious lie "Welfare Mothers" from day one.

H2O Man

(74,026 posts)
14. Thank you.
Mon Nov 20, 2023, 08:24 PM
Nov 2023


LBJ's "war on poverty" speech -- as it came to be known -- came as his first State of the Union speech. It promised a nationally backed, community based effort. To this day, I think it had great promise. Years later, commenting on how it helped his life, two-time heavyweight champion said, "That was back when our country cared about poverty."

Alas, a few months after Big George became famous for holding the American flag in the ring after winning the Olympics in Mexico, Nixon was elected. The "war on poverty" became a centralized, bureaucratic mess, sure to fail. (Well, fail for those it was intended to help. Others made money off investments in poverty.)


(12,902 posts)
6. How about a Senior Citizen tax credit...
Mon Nov 20, 2023, 06:08 PM
Nov 2023

Call it the "No cat food Act of 2024"

Social Security is less than survival level for many.


(44,121 posts)
12. Support motivates people. Withdrawing support makes them worse off and they feel worse off
Mon Nov 20, 2023, 07:00 PM
Nov 2023

Why Congress never got that straight, I have no idea. 94% of Senators haven't met a poor person in 35 years?


(816 posts)
13. We have so many problems in this country that we could solve if we wanted to.
Mon Nov 20, 2023, 07:07 PM
Nov 2023

Hunger, education, healthcare, infant mortality, gun violence, safety, less crime, drug interdiction, money in politics, the list goes on. We have the technology, we have the money, we just don't have the want to.

I have seen so many polls where the vast majority of Americans want the same thing. Democrats , republicans, independents, it's amazing that we all want the same things. But we don't get them because ....


I'm afraid we're all being lit around by the nose! Lol what's important?? I'm afraid that our elected officials, even the ones we like to vote for, are not giving us what we want and need. How do we make them more responsive to us?

And that my friends is the question of the century!

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