Spotlight Exclusives

Senator Dodd Introduces Legislation to Modernize Poverty Measure

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Last week, just before Congress went on its August recess, Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) reintroduced the Measuring American Poverty (MAP) Act to create an updated poverty measure based on the cost of basic necessities. The bill, which has been referred to the Senate Health, Education, Labor, Pensions committee, is co-sponsored by Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM).

Representative Jim McDermott (D-WA) reintroduced companion legislation in the House back in June. Click here to watch a Spotlight interview with Rep. McDermott, who discussed prospects for implementing a new federal poverty measure.

The MAP Act would create a new poverty measure based on the current costs of such necessities as food, shelter and clothing as well as other expenses including medical services and child care. The measure would also calculate the impact of tax credits and government benefits such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, food stamps and housing aid programs.

In recent years, the call for an accurate measure of poverty has continued to grow. During the 2008 campaign, President Obama came out in support of a new measure. And New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg implemented a new measure in his city using guidelines similar to those in the MAP Act. Further, a new measure has been supported by organizations such as the Annie E. Casey Foundation, AARP, U.S. Conference of Mayors, the Coalition on Human Needs, the National Conference of State Legislatures and many more.

As the Census Bureau prepares to release the 2008 income and poverty data in September, unemployment rates continue to rise, and more families struggle to make ends meet, we can expect the poverty measure to draw greater attention from both advocates and policymakers.

Posted by Helina


Here at Out of the Spotlight, we offer a behind-the-scenes look at the latest news and information essential to anyone working to fight poverty. From key political appointees to clashes over policy, we cover the news that doesn۪t always make the evening news. Check out Out of the Spotlight for our take on the twists and turns of the latest political developments and its impact on poverty reduction. Topics and ideas are welcome! Just contact or

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