Milwaukee Advocacy Group Proposes Plan to Relieve Poverty

The big question is, will Governor Walker and the GOP controlled legislature heed the call to help the poor?  I’m skeptical about the possibility.

Milwaukee is one of America’s poorest cities with an enormous percentage of the populace living near or below the poverty line.  But one Milwaukee group, Community Advocates Public Policy Institute has a plan that will relieve the crushing poverty faced by so many of our Wisconsin brothers and sisters.

[The] report proposes four changes in government policy, including various tax credits for the poor, a transitional jobs program and a boost in the minimum wage. The nonpartisan Urban Institute has crunched the numbers on the changes, and taking the state’s 8% poverty rate in 2008, found that rate would have been 4.3% if the pair’s proposals had been in place. The pair is still tweaking their proposal to get that number lower.

“People who say government policies to reduce poverty don’t work are just dead wrong,” he says. “The story is that poverty would be enormous but for certain government programs. Those programs have dramatically reduced poverty.”

“We’re not talking about a feather bed here,” Riemer says. “We’re talking about going from being poor to just scraping by.”

The report estimates the yearly cost of these four reforms at about $2.9 billion in Wisconsin, which would mostly come from federal money.

Most of the cost would come from the increased tax credits for lower-income workers.

My main concern is with the expansion of so-called “workfare.”  It’s been a questionable success.  60 Minutes just did a story on the consequences of ending AFDC and that many many more children live in poverty now.  There are, as a percentage, more children in poverty than at any time since 1962

More than 16 million children are now living in poverty and, for many of them, a proper home is elusive. Some cash-strapped families stay with relatives; others move into motels or homeless shelters. But, as Scott Pelley reports, sometimes those options run out, leaving an even more desperate choice: living in their cars. 60 Minutes returns to Florida, home to one third of America’s homeless families, to find out what life is like for the epidemic’s youngest survivors…

An epidemic of extreme poverty among American children was a predictable consequence of the AFDC repeal that Newt Gingrich designed and Bill Clinton signed in 1996.  They joined forces to pass the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act which ended “welfare as we know it,” and renamed the support Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).  This plan ushered in a generation of greater economic uncertainty for the poor, both for children and adults.

Both parties share the blame equally for this ongoing policy failure.  Will the GOP step up to the plate?


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1 thought on “Milwaukee Advocacy Group Proposes Plan to Relieve Poverty

  1. Let’s give credit where credit is due. As this Heritage Foundation report points out, the real star of welfare reform was none other than Wisconsin’s own Tommy Thompson.

    Tommy paved the way for greater poverty rates in Milwaukee and the rest of Wisconsin. And now he wants to do for America what he did here. How much more of Tommy’s bold, innovative leadership can we stand?

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