It was just a little over two months ago that the Census Bureau reported the very good news that real median household incomes had increased by 5.2 percent from 2014 to 2015, and that the poverty rate had fallen by 1.3 percentage points. The bureau also told us that the percentage of people without health insurance coverage had continued to decline substantially.
That upbeat report is likely to be the last burst of good news that the poor will see for quite some time. Donald Trump, Paul Ryan and the bellicose tribunes of the hard right are in complete charge of the federal government. Their hostility to such crucial anti-poverty efforts as the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid, food stamps and substantial increases in the minimum wage is hardly a secret.
With both houses of Congress under Republican control, big tax cuts (heavily weighted toward the richest among us) are a virtual certainty. As a result, trillions of dollars in revenues will likely be lost and Congress will be on the hunt for spending cuts to offset them. Social programs will be among the first items in their sights.
We’ve already seen something of a blueprint for what’s coming: Paul Ryan’s wish list was in his 2015 budget proposal. Nearly 70 percent of its heart-stopping spending cuts would have come from programs designed to help moderate or low-income people. Last spring Ryan came up with another proposal — this one specifically addressing poverty. He recommended, among other things, cuts to unemployment assistance, a phase-out of the Head Start program and rollbacks in the federal Pell Grant program, which provides desperately needed assistance to low-income students pursuing higher education.
Ryan’s poverty plans seem peculiarly designed to increase the hardships faced by the poor. Continue to full article>>
Article originally featured on TalkPoverty.org, Nov. 22, 2016.