Home > Uncategorized > Eduardo Porter Shares a Bi-Partisan Roadmap to End Poverty

Eduardo Porter Shares a Bi-Partisan Roadmap to End Poverty

In his most recent NYTimes column, “Finding Common Political Ground on Poverty“, Eduardo Porter shares the findings of a team of policy advisors from both sides of the political spectrum who met over a 14 month period to devise a set of goals they could both accept. While the exercise was an academic one, the participants held antithetical views on poverty. Porter summarizes the differing perspectives thusly:

To the left, deprivation is caused mostly by factors beyond the control of the poor. These include globalization that undercut good jobs previously within the reach of the less educated, an educational system segregated by race and class, lack of parental resources, discrimination, excessive use of prison.

Experts on the right, by contrast, put a lot of the weight on personal responsibility, often faulting the bad choices of the poor. And government support, by providing the poor with an income with few strings attached, has made their choices worse.

The bold faced phrases are those that serve as a good synthesis of each side’s solutions when it comes to public education policy. The progressive left (as opposed to the neo-liberal left, which holds the same views of the right) sees the need for wraparound services at an early age to mitigate the factors that children born into poverty face while neo-liberals and the right (a.k.a. “the reformers”) see choice as the solution. In making school choice available, the “reformers” can sidestep the root causes of poverty and blame the parents of poor children for making bad choices when it comes to rearing their children.

The middle ground the policy advisors found was employment opportunities for those in poverty. Both sides agreed (to varying degrees) that a boost in the minimum wage was needed to provide anyone working with a living wage and that song incentives needed to be in place to encourage the creation and sustaining of intact families. Mr. Porter describes the middle ground in this paragraph:

Many liberals are still skeptical that encouraging marriage will do much to help the poor, but most have come to accept that the children of intact families have a better shot in life. Some conservatives have come to acknowledge that though the push to tie work requirements to public assistance may have made sense in the booming 1990s, the approach might require adjustments to fit the present, less dynamic economy.

The one problem that was not addressed? Funding. Mr. Porter concludes his essay with this:

There is another hurdle that may be even harder to overcome: money. The report’s “close tax expenditures” approach to financing useful proposals has become the standard Hail Mary pass. But given all the interests with a stake in the present tax system, it never seems to muster much support.

As Mr. Strain put it, “it’s impossible to deny that conservatives want to spend less money than liberals.” Indeed, when House Speaker Paul D. Ryan proposed expanding the earned-income tax credit, he favored paying for it by cutting funds for other anti-poverty efforts.

Still, it is worth seeking a deal. If the Democrats retain the White House while the Republicans maintain their grip on Congress, neither party will be able to dominate Washington policy making. For the poor, a compromise along these lines would be a lot better than doing nothing.

A compromise would be better for EVERYONE in the country… because doing nothing will lead to more situations like the water crisis in Flint, will perpetuate the vicious cycle of poverty, and widen the ever increasing divide between the .1% and the rest of the nation.

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