P O S T E D B Y S A L L Y
This past April, and without much fanfare, the Center for American Progress released the final report of its Taskforce on Poverty. The report, titled From Poverty to Prosperity: A National Strategy to Cut Poverty in Half, lays out twelve recommendations the authors believe could cut poverty* in half over the next ten years. Taskforce recommendations range from raising and indexing the minimum wage to promoting unionization to helping former prisoners reintegrate with their communities. Omitted from the list of recommendations is any mention of universal health care, but who’s going to quibble with a plan that promises to reduce the ranks of the poor so dramatically?
You can download a copy of the report here. The Poverty and Race Research Action Council invited a range of policy experts and activists to comment on the plan in its July/August 2007 newsletter, available here.
If the body of the Taskforce report provides food for thought, its “Next Steps” section makes for an unsatisfying end to the meal:
In 2009, we will have a new president and a new Congress. Across the nation, there is a yearning for a shared national commitment to build a better, fairer, more prosperous country, with opportunity for all.
There can, and should, be active debate about the best ways to reach a national goal of cutting poverty in half. We hope and believe there is a potential for people of differing parties, ideologies, and stations in life to come together in shared commitment to the goal.
At the same time, we need not and should not wait for the federal government to act. In communities across the nation, policymakers, business leaders, people of faith, and concerned citizens can come together to ask what they can do within their community and how they can join with others to seek a national commitment to cut poverty in half in 10 years …
Yes, I suppose they can.
In his comments on the report, Herbert Gans, professor of sociology emeritus at Columbia University, calls this a bit of “consensual rhetoric,” pointing out, if I may paraphrase, that the American public doesn’t generally give a pig’s freckle about the poor.
If and when we hear that joyful tintinnabulation of the bells in 2009, will this report be remembered, I wonder? Will it resonate with a polity that was all too quick to forget the more immediate and powerful promptings of Hurricane Katrina?
* A family of four is considered poor if the family’s income is below $19,971. By this standard, roughly one in eight Americans were poor in 2005; one in three had incomes below 200 npercent of the federal poverty threshold.
Image source: phillyringers.com