Spotlight Exclusives

Obama۪s Domestic Policy Head Pledges to Cut Poverty in Half in Ten Years

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“Out of the Spotlight” Posting for December 4, 2008

Melody Barnes۪ tune is right out of the Poverty Reduction Songbook. Any doubt that cynics might have had about the depth and sincerity of Barack Obama۪s commitment to cut poverty was eliminated last night at the annual meeting of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, at which Melody Barnes, Obama۪s choice for Director of the Domestic Policy Council, delivered a pitch perfect keynote address highlighting the new Administration۪s commitment to cut poverty in half in the next ten years. This was no fluffy “Let-me-tell-you-why-I-love-Barack” piece. It was meaty, substantive and detailed just what OOTS likes in a DPC director.

Melody talked a lot about the Obama team۪s plans for the Recovery Package and then moved on to their vision for health care reform. Then, Melody picked up the poverty reduction hymnal and led us in several verses of the alleluia chorus! She hit all the right notes, highlighting Obama۪s campaign promise to cut poverty in half over ten years; she soared singing the praises of specific policy proposals (including raising and indexing the minimum wage and increasing the EITC and the new proposed refundable workers credit); and she did some nifty riffs about her time at CAP, the CAP taskforce report on poverty and prosperity, and the modeling they commissioned from the Urban Institute to estimate the impact and cost of the various proposals.

With the recession likely to push up poverty rates for the next couple of years, most politicians might right now be asking their top staff to figure out how to weasel out of their campaign promises. Not the Obama team: Melody belted out the real thing!

OOTS looked around the room and saw at least a dozen poverty-reduction buddies, all exchanging glances of shared rapture at Melody۪s aria: Half in Ten۪s Lisa Donner; Gate۪s Hilary Pennington, the Hatcher Group۪s Ed Hatcher; the Community Foundation۪s Webb Lyon; Atlantic Philanthropies۪ Marisha Wignaraja; Stoneman۪s Cuong Hoang; AECF۪s Dana Shelley; and LCCR۪s own Corrine Yu. All together now.

Encore, Melody, encore!

posted by Mike


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