New York Times, August 29, 2007: Bloomberg Proposes Expanding Tax Credit to Fight Poverty

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WASHINGTON, Aug. 28 Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg took his antipoverty message to a national stage on Tuesday, proposing an $8.5 billion expansion of the federal earned income tax credit to bring more poor people, especially men, into the work force.

In a meandering speech at a conference organized by the Brookings Institution, Mr. Bloomberg argued that because the antipoverty programs of the past decade, which focused on women with children, were reaching the limit in their ability to drive down poverty rates, it was time to focus on men.

“If we are going to achieve another round of substantial gains like the kind we experienced post-1996, then we have to do more to connect fathers to jobs and to their families,” he said. “And we have to increase the rewards for work so that work pays, both for parents and individuals.”

Mr. Bloomberg۪s plan would allow 21-year-olds who do not have children living with them to qualify for the tax credit. The age limit is now 25. He also proposes raising the tax credit۪s maximum qualifying income to just over $18,000 from $12,000. With those and other adjustments, Mr. Bloomberg said, someone who now makes $11,000 a year could see his or her tax benefits rise by nearly $1,000 from $86, with an additional $350 coming from the city and state.

The plan, which would need Congressional approval, also would require recipients to keep up their child-support payments and to work at least 26 weeks a year.

Mr. Bloomberg۪s plan would apply to about 445,000 residents in New York, almost 80 percent of whom would be new recipients. Nationwide, about 19.7 million people would qualify, with 10.5 million of them newly eligible.

Acknowledging the hefty price tag, Mr. Bloomberg said the economy would benefit from having more people working and more fathers paying child support.

After delivering the speech, which sounded at times like a blueprint for a national campaign, Mr. Bloomberg fielded questions about his presidential ambitions. “I۪m not going to run for president,” he said.

The speech which began with a joke about his visit here (no, he said, it was not part of a “stealth campaign” to become attorney general) zigzagged among several topics, including public education, illegal immigration and the problems of “partisan bickering.”

Pledging to work with New York City۪s Congressional delegation to enact his proposal, Mr. Bloomberg said the city was designing a new way to measure poverty rates. Many poverty analysts consider the current measure, in use since 1964, to be antiquated.

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