Democrats Leading Efforts to Reduce Poverty and Help Working Families Get Ahead

May 24, 2016

The Ways and Means Committee today held a hearing on Republicans’ misguided poverty agenda, further shining light on the harmful actions the GOP has taken to actually move America’s families backwards. Meanwhile, Democrats discussed their commonsense proposals – which have proven to be effective – to fight poverty in communities across America.

As Ranking Member Sander Levin (D-MI) clearly laid out in his opening statement:

“There is a dramatic disconnect between the worthy goals of poverty reduction and the agenda Republicans have continually pursued in this and recent Congresses… Our Republican colleagues seem to mistake cutting poverty programs with cutting poverty. They willfully ignore analyses that show our income security programs reduce poverty by over 40 percent.”

These points were further highlighted by Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) Executive Director Olivia Golden, who testified:

“The nation’s core economic security programs are highly effective: they sharply reduce poverty, improve nutrition and health care for millions of children, families, and individuals, and promote work… changes in the economy – which have fostered low-wage jobs that are also unstable, lack adequate hours, and require volatile, last-minute job schedules – mean that high employment rates do not translate into low poverty rates.”

Ms. Golden went on to describe the steps Congress should take to make sure Americans have the opportunities they need to succeed:

“Congress should avoid bad ideas that demonstrably don’t work – such as block grants, misguided requirements, and cuts in key programs – and should seize opportunities that build on research and experience… These include expanded access to child care for all low-income parents, investment in effective workforce development programs and career opportunities, financial access to postsecondary education and completion for today’s low-income students, crucial fixes to the work support system for adults and families, and basic standards for fairness at work, including raising the minimum wage.”

Republican witness Karin VanZant continued, supporting commonsense Democratic proposals during the question-and-answer portion of the hearing:

“I believe that, yes, we do need safety net programs because we do know that there are going to be situations that any one of us could fall into where we’ll need a little bit of help…If we can give mom and dad the types of support that they need when they are pulled out of the house for 40-50 hours a week in jobs that allow them to know that their kids are in a safe place, that they have after school activities, that some of the large dollar items in their budget, such as housing and child care and utility assistance, are in place that allow that slope to be much more gradual, what I think is that we’re going to find troves of people going back to work, because I really do believe that they want to.”


114th Congress