WASHINGTON — Half in Ten, the campaign to cut poverty in half over 10 years, applauds the progressive policy agenda outlined by President Barack Obama in his State of the Union address on Tuesday. President Obama set forth a plan to build shared prosperity and help more struggling families access the American Dream.
The president’s focus on higher education, job creation, and equitable tax policies will help strengthen the middle class, and it represents the types of aggressive steps that are necessary in the near term if we are to achieve our goal of cutting poverty in half over the next decade.
The president’s comments also underscored the urgent nature of continuing federal unemployment benefits and the payroll tax cut to simultaneously grow our economy and help struggling families weather a period of joblessness. His emphasis on tax fairness and the importance of investing in all children, including immigrant families, underscores the folly of paying for these investments by eliminating tax credits for working immigrant families, as has been proposed by conservatives in the House.
The Half in Ten campaign recently released a report, “Restoring Shared Prosperity: Strategies to Cut Poverty and Expand Economic Growth,” that established the baseline for Half in Ten’s goal of cutting poverty in half in 10 years and started the clock on meeting the target nationally and in every state. The report also provides a path for policymakers to reverse troubling economic trends and rebuild the middle class. It includes a set of indicators that measure how well the nation is doing in creating good jobs, strengthening families, and promoting economic security.
Half in Ten is pleased that the president addressed several of these baseline indicators in his speech, including proposals to expand the number of good jobs by investing in infrastructure, job preparation, higher education, and supporting policies to promote equal pay for equal work. We are encouraged that the strategies presented by the president would strengthen families and promote economic security by improving health insurance coverage for families and securing access to child care and early learning.
The president emphasized an economic framework in which everyone has a “fair shot.” In this context Half in Ten encourages the administration to champion safety net policies such as SNAP, Medicaid, affordable housing, and utility assistance that help struggling families meet basic needs and regain their footing in a tough economy. Protecting and investing in such programs helps children perform better in school and ensures that families have a better shot at the American Dream. As the president underscored, we must reduce the deficit in a balanced way that asks everyone to do their part so that the most vulnerable Americans will not have to bear undue burden while millionaires escape paying their fair share.
Half in Ten looks forward to working with the Obama administration and Congress to advance this agenda, which represents an important down payment on cutting poverty, increasing opportunity, and revitalizing the American Dream for all.