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Aid to the Poor Did Not Grow Relative to GDP

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Wednesday, 18 June 2014 04:05

Thomas Edsall had an interesting piece in the NYT that discussed the shift of aid to the poor from people who are very poor, unmarried, and non-working to the near poor, married, and working. At one point the piece refers to a comment from economist Robert Moffitt that spending on poverty programs increased by 74 percent from 1975 to 2007, after adjusting for inflation. This may have led readers to believe there was an increasing commitment to combat poverty over this period. In fact, since GDP increased by 176 percent over the same years, there was a substantial decline in poverty spending measured as a share of GDP over this period.

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It Pays More to Be Less Poor than More Poor - If You're Already There
written by Last Mover, June 18, 2014 5:59

Well written article that exposes evolution of welfare-to-work changes initiated by Clinton to favor the near poor over the very poor. It contradicts what conservatives keep saying, that welfare pays single poor women to have more children and not seek work.

But in relative terms welfare rewards poor working married couples with children more than the very poor. In this context conservatives betray their true objectives, to reward the poor already with children and working.

So the very poor are supposed to aspire to this to get off the bottom meager rung of welfare they barely have? Get a job, get married and have children, then get (more) welfare?

As for Dean Baker's point that welfare for the poor overall has fallen in terms relative to GDP, consider this:
Shaefer and Edin use a definition of “extreme poverty” in which every member of a family lives on $2 a day, or at just 13 percent of the official poverty level. They found that even when the value of food stamps and tax benefits are added in, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of households surviving at this extremely poor level, from 409,000 households in 1996, before passage of welfare reform, to 613,000 households in 2011, including 1.17 million children.


Only in America. The welfare received by these "untouchables" is a drop in the bucket compared to that received by the economic predators who run the country. Yet the attention they get from the sock puppet media is little more than that given to pets put up for adoption by humane shelters.
Conservative Response
written by widgetmaker, June 18, 2014 11:54
la la la la la I can't hear you la la la la The Safety Net is a Hammock!!! la la la la The moochers are getting a free ride la la la la
True Colors
written by John Parks, June 18, 2014 7:44
..........Autor shares the concerns of conservatives over the “damage to family structure, educational investment, and health behaviors, and role modeling in poor inner cities.”.......

Say Whut!?

I'll wait until I actually see action rather than words before making a statement like that............and that applies to both sides of the political spectrum. I would suggest that Autor should also be a bit cautious.
Government does spend
written by Floccina, June 20, 2014 3:07
Government does spend a lot saying it is for the poor but little gets to the poor. Along with the means tested programs, even SS and Medicare exist mostly so that the poor do not run out of money in old age. Government funded education exists because the poor would not be able to educate their children.
Our politicians, both parties are incredibly corrupt and the poor being a small part of the voters are abused.

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.

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