Tucson Progressive

Pamela Powers, a progressive voice for Arizona

Poverty by the Numbers Report Reveals a Cruel Nation

flag-99-862-sig-sm72As Republicans in Congress are poised to cut billions from the food stamp program, a new report about poverty in America reveals how many millions of Americans need social safety net programs like food stamps.

Ever since President Lyndon Johnson declared the War on Poverty in 1964, capitalists and their Republican lackeys have been working hard to dismantle the collection of progressive policies that Johnson and the Democratic Congress passed– food stamps, Head Start, Medicaid, Medicare, low-cost student loans, work study programs and more.

In 1964, the rate of poverty in the US was 20%; with the War on Poverty in full swin, it had dropped to 11% by 1973. Now, thanks to the slow dismantling and defunding of anti-poverty programs, the US poverty rate is 15%, according to the new report published by The Nation and Bill Moyers; 46.2 million Americans are living in poverty. This translates to a family of three with an income of less than $17,916. The most impoverished Americans are children with 22% of all American children living in poverty; this includes 39% of African-American children and 34% of Latino children. Women are far more likely to be poor than men, and that scenario is gradually worsening.

Here are some of the highlights– or lowlights, depending upon how you look at it– of the report.

U.S. poverty (less than $17,916 for a family of three): 46.2 million people, 15.1 percent

Click pie chart to enlarge. Read the full report at the National Center for Children in Poverty website.

Children in poverty: 16.1 million, 22 percent of all children, including 39 percent of African-American children and 34 percent of Latino children. Poorest age group in country.

Deep poverty (less than $11,510 for a family of four): 20.4 million people, 1 in 15 Americans, including more than 15 million women and children

People who would have been in poverty if not for Social Security, 2011: 67.6 million
(program kept 21.4 million people out of poverty)

People in the U.S. experiencing poverty by age 65: Roughly half

Gender gap, 2011: Women 34 percent more likely to be poor than men

Gender gap, 2010: Women 29 percent more likely to be poor than men

Twice the poverty level (less than $46,042 for a family of four): 106 million people, more than 1 in 3 Americans

Jobs in the U.S. paying less than $34,000 a year: 50 percent

Jobs in the U.S. paying below the poverty line for a family of four, less than $23,000 annually: 25 percent

Poverty-level wages, 2011: 28 percent of workers

Percentage of individuals and family members in poverty who either worked or lived with a working family member, 2011: 57 percent

Families receiving cash assistance, 1996: 68 for every 100 families living in poverty

Families receiving cash assistance, 2010: 27 for every 100 families living in poverty

Impact of public policy, 2010: Without government assistance, poverty would have been twice as high — nearly 30 percent of population

Percentage of entitlement benefits going to elderly, disabled or working households: Over 90 percent.

Number of homeless children in U.S. public schools: 1,065,794

Annual cost of child poverty nationwide: $550 billion

Federal expenditures on home ownership mortgage deductions, 2012: $131 billion

Federal funding for low-income housing assistance programs, 2012: Less than $50 billion

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The Tucson Progressive: Pamela J. Powers

I stand on the side of Love. I believe in kindness to all creatures on Earth and the inherent self-worth of all individuals–not just people who agree with me or look like me.

Widespread economic and social injustice prompted me to become a candidate for the Arizona House, representing Legislative District 9 in the 2016 election.

My platform focused on economic reforms to grow Arizona’s economy, establish a state-based public bank, fix our infrastructure, fully fund public education, grow local small businesses and community banks, and put people back to work at good-paying jobs.

In the Arizona House, I was a strong voice for fiscal responsibility a moratorium on corporate tax breaks until the schools were fully funded, increased cash assistance to the poor, expansion of maternal healthcare benefits, equal rights, choice, unions, education at all levels and protecting our water supply.

After three terms, I retired from the Arizona Legislature in January 2023 but will continue to blog and produce my podcast “A View from the Left Side.”

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