For Immediate Release: September 16, 2010

'We Should Collectively Be Appalled'

Following is a statement by Alan W. Houseman, executive director of CLASP, the Center for Law and Social Policy, regarding today's Census Bureau release of annual income, poverty and health coverage statistics. The poverty rate increased 1.1 percent in 2009, reflecting a rise of  3.7 million Americans.

"It is often said that the measure of a nation's greatness is how it treats the most vulnerable. By that standard, today's poverty data demonstrate that we are falling far short. We should collectively be appalled that nearly one in seven Americans live in poverty and millions more live near poverty.

"We must take a hard look at the numbers released today and be frank about the depth of poverty in this nation and why it has increased in this way. Chalking up the egregious increase in poverty to the economic recession and high unemployment is far too easy. Instead, we should commit to implementing or strengthening federal policies that alleviate immediate hardship and equip children, youth and families with the tools to move out of and stay out of poverty.

"At the very least, policymakers, in spite of their ideological differences, should be able to agree that it is shameful that in this rich nation, 43.6 million people and more than 20 percent of all children live in poverty."

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