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Poverty Overhaul

 US House and Senate reps have been busy "rethinking" the Great Society programs of the 1960s

Last year's 50th anniversary of the "Great Society" was the kickoff of a movement among Republican Congressional leaders (and some Democrats) to come up with a new approach to to addressing poverty.

Since HUD and many of today's housing programs were creatures of the Lyndon Johnson area, proposed changes in Federal programming could be in store.  

What's news?
june 7, 2016 Center for Budget and Policy Priorities Work Requirements Don’t Cut Poverty, Evidence Shows
The evidence from an array of rigorous evaluations,[3] however, does not support the view that work requirements are highly effective, as their proponents often claim. Instead, the research shows:
  1. Employment increases among recipients subject to work requirements were modest and faded over time (for more, see Finding #1).
  2. Stable employment among recipients subject to work requirements proved the exception, not the norm (for more, see Finding #2).
  3. Most recipients with significant barriers to employment never found work even after participating in work programs that were otherwise deemed successful (for more, see Finding #3).
  4. Over the long term, the most successful programs supported efforts to boost the education and skills of those subject to work requirements, rather than simply requiring them to search for work or find a job (for more, see Finding #4).
  5. The large majority of individuals subject to work requirements remained poor, and some became poorer (for more, see Finding #5).
  6. Voluntary employment programs can significantly increase employment without the negative impacts of ending basic assistance for individuals who can’t meet mandatory work requirements (for more, see Finding #6).

SOS warmed over?  
The Atlantic reports: "The report calls for tightening work requirements for welfare, food stamps, and housing assistance programs. “Our plan starts with work, not welfare: If you are capable, we will expect you to work or prepare for work,” a two-page summary says. Republicans are also pushing to send more authority to the states and change programs so that there success—and funding—is based on how many people they help lift out of poverty. The plan would tackle what the report calls “the welfare cliff,” in which recipients are discouraged from taking new or higher paying jobs because the salary would not compensate for the reduction of benefits they would see as a result. Other recommendations include more school choice in education, cutting back financial regulations under the Dodd-Frank law, and making it easier for small businesses to band together to offer 401K retirement plans."
here's the CBPP analysis: Previewing the GOP Poverty Plan
Sherrod Brown leads the Dems response: seems like the big poverty roll out got lost in Ryan's rebuke of the Presidential candidate that he's just enforsed. Everywhere Paul Ryan turns, there’s the smell of Trump If the Poverty agenda was supposed to divert attention from the top of the ticket, maybe "backfire" is in order.

Meanwhile the teabag (er...Freedom) caucus offers a more radical change
National Low Income Housing Coalition reports that Ohio Rep Jim Jordan has proposed blockgranting all major housing assistance programs. "Legislation Would Eliminate Nearly All Federal Housing Programs. Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH), a cofounder of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, introduced a bill that would eliminate nearly all federal affordable housing programs by consolidating them into a state block grant. The “Welfare Reform and Upward Mobility Act” (H.R. 5360) would prohibit Congress from funding means-tested housing programs beginning in 2017.

Here are a couple recaps of what happened last time Congress (and the White House) decided to "end welfare as we know it."

Fifty years ago, we as a nation declared a war on poverty and began our mission to create policies that help lift families out of poverty, improve nutrition and health care, and promote work. This effort has succeeded in reducing poverty in America by nearly 50 percent in 2014. Now, there’s definitely more work to do. Today, 47 million Americans live in poverty, including one in five children. But to suggest that our current policies have done more harm than good is pure myth. Slashing or undercutting these programs – as Republicans are expected to propose again next week in their latest ‘blueprint’ – would be an attack on families living in poverty, not on poverty itself."

May 31,2016 NLIHC House Committee Holds Hearing on Moving Families Out of Poverty
The House Committee on Ways and Means held a hearing on May 24 titled “Moving America’s Families Forward: Setting Priorities for Reducing Poverty and Expanding Opportunity.” A number of witnesses spoke about the challenge of finding avenues to help America’s poorest families achieve economic mobility and an improved quality of life. Lawmakers and hearing witnesses primarily discussed the viability and potential consequences of imposing work requirements for those enrolling in welfare programs.

May 24, 2016 Competitive Enterprise Institute Report Offers Reform Roadmap to Improve Lives, End Poverty
  • Improve access to capital by removing regulatory barriers to lending and borrowing.
  • End fuel poverty by rejecting energy taxes and restrictions and liberalizing energy innovation, such as freeing up federal lands to energy development.
  • Institute occupational licensing reform at the federal, state, and local levels.
  • Reject labor policies that drive up unemployment or benefit a select few at the expense of others.
  • End political price distortions that result in bad investments, greater economic volatility, low overall growth, and lower living standards.
  • Allow competing currencies, so consumers and investors can choose the ones most honest and shun the volatile or dishonest.
  • End corporate welfare programs.
  • Review and cut regulatory red tape with reforms such as: requiring congressional votes on all new major regulations and creating an independent commission to review old regulations.
April 28, 2016 USA Today Legislation aims to boost investment in economically distressed areas
The Investing in Opportunity Act would let investors put off paying capital gains taxes and instead use that money to improve conditions in places with chronically high poverty and unemployment, low family incomes and rampant abandoned housing. The legislation represents a new twist on a familiar approach in Washington: using the tax code to affect behavior. It's designed to encourage socially conscious investors to join forces to help communities where few investors ever tread. “Our goal is to make sure we see the private sector engage with their resources in a way they have not in the past,” said Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C. He and Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., are the lead Senate sponsors. The effort is being led in the House by Rep. Pat Tiberi, R-Ohio, and Rep. Ron Kind, D-Wis.

 Notes & Links