How Best to Lift People Out of Poverty

October 22, 2012 | The New York Times |  Link to article

To the Editor:

Gary E. MacDougal is right that candidates should pay more attention to poverty and that low-income families too often face a confusing maze to get help. However, the budget proposed by Representative Paul D. Ryan, which relies on cost shifts to states, should not be the discussion's starting point.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Medicaid played a critical role helping people in this recession. Block grants would make these programs far less responsive in the next recession, as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families was less responsive in this recession.

Mr. MacDougal is right to focus on results - children who are healthy and school ready, adults with the skills needed to compete.

But block grants won't get us there. Instead, we should learn from community programs, such as Harlem Children's Zone and the Strive Partnership of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, achieving these outcomes by coordinating services to families, even if the services are financed by different programs or delivered by more than one institution.

Elizabeth Lower-Basch
Policy Coordinator
Center for Law and Social Policy
Washington, Oct. 11, 2012

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