By KATIE PETERS, Center for American Progress
Washington, D.C. — In response to the release of U.S. Census Bureau data on poverty and hardship today, the Center for American Progress released an analysis of how this new information should inform Congress’s approach to deciding the fate of many critical programs for low-income Americans during the year-end fiscal showdown.
In the analysis, CAP Poverty expert Melissa Boteach explains how the 2011 Supplemental Poverty Measure data show that public policy choices make a difference when it comes to lifting families out of poverty.
Refundable tax credits for working families lifted 8.7 million people out of poverty in 2011, and the child poverty rate would have been 6.3 percentage points higher without them.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program lifted 4.7 million people out of poverty in 2011. Without it, the child poverty rate would have been 2.9 percentage points higher.
The low-income home energy assistance program lifted more than 300,000 people above the poverty line in 2011.
At the end of 2012, though, the expansions to the earned income and child tax credits for working families—which kept hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty in 2010 and lessened hardship for millions more—are set to expire. Similarly, if Congress fails to act, the low-income home energy assistance program will be hit at the end of the year by automatic across-the-board cuts that would eliminate 734,000 households from help paying their utility bills. Without action from Congress, the millions of people who were lifted out of poverty by these successful public policies may be forced back below the poverty line.
Via Margaret Reeve Panahi