Leading poverty experts propose bold plan to rescue families and repair nation’s emergency measures
Washington, DC (December 7, 2009) -Eleven of the nation’s leading experts on poverty have proposed a $400 billion emergency relief plan to create and save jobs for millions of Americans while also offering adequate resources to vital safety net programs. The national study, Battered by the Storm: How Safety Net is Failing Americans and How to Fix It , concludes that the economic crisis is still on the rise for millions of Americans, while at the same time the social safety net is failing to support many of them. It offers one of the boldest, most comprehensive plans to combat poverty and unemployment — beginning now.
"To end the joblessness epidemic in this country, we need a massive jolt of public jobs, of aid to states and cities, and of finance for vital safety net programs," says John Cavanagh, Director of the Washington-based Institute for Policy Studies .
- Levels of long-term unemployment, underemployment and discouraged workers are reaching historic levels;
- The percentage of poor children receiving temporary assistance under TANF (the main federal “welfare” program) has fallen from 62% in 1995 to 22% in 2008;
- TANF benefits are far from sufficient to support the families that depend on them: 2008 assistance payments averaged only 29% of the money needed to bring families up to the official poverty line;
- Even while labor force participation of mothers has increased, the supply of affordable child care has lagged behind, creating a significant barrier to employment for many, especially single mothers; and
- Roughly 57% of unemployed people are receiving unemployment compensation; for those receiving benefits, amounts are less than half of wages, and many are losing work-related health benefits.
- $40 billion public jobs program to create one million new jobs;
- $270 billion to cover state and local deficits, which could sustain vital funding for critical safety net programs and could save the jobs of millions of workers;
- Just over $100 billion for the expansion of programs that provide income or income equivalents to help people weather the storm: Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), unemployment insurance, and food stamps; and
- New policies to address the housing foreclosure crisis.