CLASP Work Supports Newsletter - July 2013
July 31, 2013
Work Supports Newsletter
In this Issue:
CLASP In Focus Blog Postings
JULY 31, 2013
Conversations about the War on Poverty often begin with this dispiriting fact: the official U.S. poverty rate is stuck at 15 percent, essentially where it was 50 years ago when the War on Poverty began. Part of the answer can be found in the fact that the official poverty measure has not kept pace with the programs we have created to address it. The more fundamental answer has to do with the decline of wages, particularly at the low end of the labor market. Where once the safety net was designed to assist those who were not expected to work, or who were temporarily out of work, today's largest safety-net programs do much more by supplementing the wages of low-earning workers, particularly those with children.
UPDATED JULY 2013By CLASP and Young Invincibles
As part of the Benefits Access for College Completion initiative, CLASP and Young Invincibles teamed up to develop a toolkit and webinar for community college leadership, faculty, and staff that shows how to connect their students to health coverage. Based on the questions posed during the webinar, Young Invincibles, Enroll America, and CLASP have developed a companion brief and frequently asked questions guide.
JULY 31, 2013
By Helly Lee
Today, the House Subcommittee on Human Resources held a hearing on improving the safety net. Witnesses described what improvements are needed to the nation's safety net programs, but more importantly, one witness highlighted what is already being done in their state to better serve families.
JULY 29, 2013
This year alone, at least 30 states have brought forward proposals to screen or chemically test individuals applying for public benefits for drug use. Kansas and Texas recently enacted suspicion-based drug testing for TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) and Unemployment Insurance applicants, respectively. As we have discussed, drug testing public benefit applicants is ineffective, costly, and stigmatizing. This proof can be found in data from states that have already implemented drug testing laws.
JULY 23, 2013
By Neil Ridley
Four years after the official end of the Great Recession, the economy is improving, but the nation is struggling with slow job growth and high unemployment. The national unemployment rate is expected to remain above 7.5 percent through 2014, according to the Congressional Budget Office’s Budget and Economic Outlook. Long-term unemployment in particular remains at record levels: nearly two out of five of the unemployed, or about 4 million workers, have been out of work for more than six months and large numbers have been jobless for more than a year. Numerous studies confirm that it is very difficult for long-term unemployed workers to re-enter the workforce.
JULY 18, 2013
Last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed its version of the bill to provide funding for the federal Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education for fiscal year 2014, which begins on October 1, 2013. These Departments are in charge of a huge range of programs and services, many of which serve low-income workers and families. This bill would provide slightly higher overall funding levels than appropriated for FY 2013, allowing for targeted new investments. However, the House Appropriations Committee is headed down a very different path. It has not yet released a bill to assign funding levels to specific programs, but its budget for these Departments is significantly less - by $44 billion - and would necessitate reductions to key programs that help low-income families gain and maintain economic security.
JULY 17, 2013
While TANF is an insufficient safety net, as we have discussed, a handful of states have recently done the right thing for low-income families by passing laws that improve their TANF programs. California, Minnesota, Illinois and Nebraska have all enacted laws that strengthen TANF programs to serve needy families. These promising developments in state TANF programs will provide poor families with a stronger safety net and financial security.
JULY 17, 2013More than 45 million people in the U.S. are uninsured. If every state expanded Medicaid coverage as intended under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), almost 25.4 million would be eligible to enroll in Medicaid. However, the recent Supreme Court decision on the ACA has effectively made Medicaid expansion a state decision. So far, 23 states and the District of Columbia have elected to expand coverage on January 1, 2014. Conversely, 21 states have declined to expand Medicaid with an additional six states that are on the fence. This means that fewer people will be able to obtain health insurance. A recent report further finds that low-income individuals of color will be disproportionately affected by state decisions on whether or not to expand Medicaid.
JULY 15, 2013
Twenty-six percent of children under age 6 in the U.S. live in poverty. Nearly half of children under age 6 are low-income (live below 200 percent of poverty). And child poverty is on the rise. Growing up in a poor or low-income family influences an individual’s ability to be healthy and succeed in school and into adulthood. Low-income children and families count on safety net and work support programs to help provide for their basic needs, and these programs succeed in bettering these families’ lives.
JULY 12, 2013
By Helly Lee
Yesterday, in an unprecedented move, the House of Representatives passed a five year Farm Bill that focuses just on agriculture issues and omits the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and other important provisions that address nutrition. The bill was opposed by all Democrats and 13 Republicans.
JULY 10, 2013
Regardless of ideology or political party, Americans overwhelmingly agree that our safety net programs should support low-income workers in their efforts to become self-sufficient – and that these programs should not leave workers worse off when they get a raise or increase their hours. But few know that the changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps) made by the House Agriculture Committee would have done just that by forcing all states to enforce “gross income limits” that cut SNAP recipients off if they earn just a dollar more than the threshold. Such policies create a “poverty trap” or “cliff effect” that make it harder for workers to get ahead.
Reports & Publications from Colleague Organizations
Strengthening the EITC for Childless Workers Would Promote Work and Reduce Poverty, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
Modernizing Asset Limits, New America Foundation
What Families Need to Get By, Economic Policy Institute
State Implementation of the Sequester Cuts to Federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) Program, National Employment Law Project
Setting the Record Straight: The Social Security Disability Insurance Program, Center for Medicare Advocacy, Inc.
If you have news you want to share with your colleagues around the country in this Newsletter, let us know.
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The Work Supports Newsletter is a monthly update that summarizes CLASP's work on safety net programs that include cash assistance (TANF), nutrition supports (SNAP), refundable tax credits, health insurance, child support enforcement and child care subsidies.