Spotlight Exclusives

Fighting Poverty in Congress and How We Can Achieve More, By Speaker Nancy Pelosi

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In the last election, the America people spoke clearly for change. Ever since, Democrats have been taking our nation in a New Direction. In particular, we have worked to make America a place where every citizen has the opportunity to achieve the American dream. Central to that dream is a safety net in times of trouble, and also a ladder of opportunity.

After the successes of the 110th Congress we have made progress, but we must continue our efforts. When I was sworn in as Speaker, I did so surrounded by children, because they must be the center of our work in Congress. It is simply unacceptable that nearly one out of every five children in America — 13 million — live in poverty. In addition to the human suffering that poverty brings, an estimate by the Center for American Progress found that persistent childhood poverty costs our country about $500 billion a year by way of lost productivity, school drop-outs, crime, and growing numbers enrolled in nutrition and public assistance programs.

To address some of these challenges, we got to work right away. In the first 100 hours we took office, we increased the minimum wage for the first time in nine years. This will benefit nearly 13 million people.

To help families struggling in a difficult economy, we passed an economic stimulus package that sent Recovery Rebates to 130 million Americans to help with the higher costs of gasoline, groceries, and health care. These Recovery Rebates will also help strengthen the lagging economy.

This year we also passed a Farm Bill that makes a significant investment in the nutrition of all Americans. It helps families who are struggling with the high costs of food and provides support for food stamps and food banks; it also helps lower food prices.

For those who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own, we have extended unemployment insurance.

This is just the beginning. We are continuing our efforts for comprehensive and affordable quality health coverage, to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit, and to improve our schools for all our children.

Our efforts to take America in a New Direction are not finished. We will continue to work to improve the lives of Americaؙs working families and those struggling to make it, and we are counting on you for your help.

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