I have several questions that I would ask Jeff Spross. Which is why can’t you do both? Why can’t you have policies that improve the middle class in America so their wages go up and they can get better jobs and also assist the poor working or otherwise so they can get good jobs and leave poverty? And then I would ask how does he judge how safety net programs have cut poverty the last fifty-years.
Does Jeff Spross do that by saying that if you add up all the social insurance programs that one receives in cash dollars, they are technically not living in poverty anymore. When you add up their Welfare if they aren’t working, Medicaid, Public Housing, Food Assistance etc in dollars. Or does he measure reductions in poverty by the numbers of people who are now in the middle class with good jobs and not needing public assistance at all to pay their bills.
The fact is public assistance programs and I’m not talking about Social Security and Medicare, but anti-poverty assistance for non-retired adults and seniors in America are only for people whose income is under a certain level. They are for people who do not earn enough money to take care of themselves. And because of that they are eligible for Medicaid, Food Assistance, Public Housing the Earned Income Tax Credit if they are working, but have a low-income job. So if you need these programs or any of them, you are in poverty by definition. Because you don’t earn enough money to live out of poverty on your own.
And then another question I would have for Jeff Spross. What is wrong with encouraging work, which are what work requirements are about. What is he worried about, that low-skilled unemployed adults will get jobs. Or finish their education as well and get themselves a good job and no longer need public assistance. You don’t judge the success of anti-poverty programs by the number of people who need them. Meaning the more people who need public assistance, the more successful the program is. You judge these programs especially as they relate to education and job training for low-skilled and medium-skilled adults, by the number of people who don’t need them. Meaning the fewer people who need them, the better the program.
You judge public assistance by how many people are able to leave public assistance and poverty all together and now have a good job and are able to take care of themselves. Because now they have the skills and education needed to get themselves a good job that allows for them to support themselves and their families and no longer need public assistance at all. And the fact is we need to expand as well as empower the middle class in America. Because they are the people who drive economic and job growth in America. The real job creators with their spending on their basic and recreational needs. And education and job training and things like infrastructure and energy investment are how you drive down poverty, expand and empower the middle class in America.
PBS NewsHour: Top-Down Or Middle-Out? Debating The Key to Economic Growth