Republicans and Poverty: Moving America’s Families Backwards

May 24, 2016

This morning, the Ways and Means Committee will hold a hearing entitled, “Moving America’s Families Forward: Setting Priorities for Reducing Poverty and Expanding Opportunity.” But do Republican proposals actually move our nation’s families forward and reduce poverty? Turns out, not so much. Let’s take a closer look at how Republicans reduce opportunity and increase poverty, while Democrats actively work to reduce poverty and help working families across America succeed.


70 MILLION:    The number of Americans that could lose some or all of their health insurance protection under the House Republican plan to slash $2.1 trillion from Medicaid. The Republican plan to dramatically reduce the number of families with health insurance is likely to reduce opportunities for their children to get out of poverty in the future.

$185 BILLION: The amount that the House Republican budget would cut from support forhigher education over the next decade, which would freeze Pell Grants and put a college education out of reach for millions of students. Republicans have proposed these cuts even though we are facing a college affordability crisis and we know that a college education often makes the difference between a good job and no job.

$1 BILLION:      The amount that Republicans cut from the Employment Service state grant funding, which provides labor exchange and other job search assistance to employees and employers, over the last 30 years.


13 MILLION:    The number of senior citizens, disabled Americans, and low-income working families that would have to be cut off Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to fit within the House Republicans’ latest budget. Even more families would be affected if the cut was achieved by reducing the amount of food families could buy. SNAP lifts more than10 million Americans out of poverty.

30 MILLION:    The number of parents, children, seniors, and disabled Americans that would lose critical services like child care, transportation, respite care, and Meals on Wheels if House Republicans were to succeed in eliminating the Social Services Block Grant.

3 MILLION:      The number of children in families living on less than $2 a day while House Republicans refuse to hold states accountable for using Temporary Assistance to Needy Families Program (TANF) funds to move people from welfare to work that gets them out of poverty. The share of poor families helped by TANF fell below 25 percent and states spent only 8 percent of TANF funds to promote work.

8 PERCENT:     The portion of TANF dollars that states, on average, currently spend on work activities. And they only spend 16% of TANF funds on child care. TANF shows why block grants with little accountability fail. It remains largely a welfare program, but increasingly it has become welfare for Republican governors, plugging state budget holes with money intended to help the most vulnerable work their way out of poverty.


14.6 MILLION: The number of private sector jobs added to the economy over 74 consecutive months. The economy has rebounded from the loss of 800,000 in a single month in 2008 with the unemployment rate dropping from 10 percent in October 2009 to 5 percent currently.  

20 MILLION:    The number of Americans that have gained health insurance coverage that will keep them from falling into poverty in the case of an accident or serious illness, thanks to theAffordable Care Act. These newly-insured Americans would lose their coverage if Republicans repeal the Affordable Care Act. Republicans have voted more than 60 times to repeal or undermine the ACA while offering no alternative.

27 MILLION:    The number of Americans, including 1.6 million children, that have been lifted out of poverty thanks to Social Security. While Democrats have proposed ways to strengthen and expand the program, House Republicans have proposed to privatize and cut Social Security.

7.5 MILLION:   The number of working Americans that would benefit from an expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit to cover all low-income adults. Despite praise from Speaker Ryan, Republicans blocked Democratic efforts to expand the EITC during last year’s budget negotiations. Together with other refundable tax credits, the EITC lifts an estimated 9 million Americans out of poverty, reduces poverty for 22 million more Americans, and has been proven to increase work. Researchers at the National Bureau of Economic research estimated that every $1,000 increase in the EITC causes a 7.3 percent increase in employment rates and a 9.4 percent reduction in poverty

40 PERCENT:   The percentage of American families in which a woman is the sole or primary breadwinner. Women currently earn 78 cents to every dollar a man earns, on average. Democrats have introduced the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would ensure equal pay for women, while Republicans refuse to allow a vote on the legislation. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research estimates that equal pay for equal work would cut poverty by about half for families that include a working woman.

5 MILLION:      The number of additional women who could participate in our labor market if the U.S. had family-friendly policies like child care assistance and paid leave. Only 17 percent of eligible families currently receive help from the Child Care Block Grant, according to the Congressional Research Service. Democrats have introduced the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act, which Republicans have refused to allow a vote on.

16 PERCENT:   The percentage the number of people living in poverty would be reduced if the federal minimum wage were increased to $12, a proposal introduced by House Democrats.Economists from across the political spectrum agree that raising the minimum wage reduces poverty. House Republicans voted unanimously against raising the minimum wage the last time there was a vote in the House.


114th Congress