Spotlight Exclusives

SPOTLIGHT Advisors Spot Holes In The Safety Net

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When we launched Spotlight with a bi-partisan Council of Advisors, we hoped to communicate that it was possible to achieve a big tent, common ground approach to reducing poverty and building opportunity for all.  Two of Spotlight۪s expert advisors, Mark Greenberg and Ron Haskins, underscore this common ground in a piece in The New York Times, “Welfare Aid is Not Growing as Economy Drops Off.”  In interviews with Times reporter Jason DeParle, both Greenberg and Haskins, who represent different political ideologies, decry the failure of the welfare program to help families in need during the recession.

In The New York Times story, DeParle explains that: 

“Despite soaring unemployment and the worst economic crisis in decades, 18 states cut their welfare rolls last year, and nationally the number of people receiving cash assistance remained at or near the lowest in more than 40 years.

“The trends, based on an analysis of new state data collected by The New York Times, raise questions about how well a revamped welfare system with great state discretion is responding to growing hardships.”

Spotlight Advisor Ron Haskins, a former special advisor to President George W. Bush and currently a senior scholar at the Brookings Institution, gave this response:

“There is ample reason to be concerned here .The overall structure is not working the way it was designed to work. We would expect, just on the face it, that when a deep recession happens, people could go back on welfare.

“When we started this, Democratic and Republican governors alike said, We know what۪s best for our state; we۪re not going to let people starve.۪ And now that the chips are down, and unemployment is going up, most states are not doing enough to help families get back on the rolls.”

Spotlight Advisor Mark Greenberg, executive director of the Task Force on Poverty at Center for American Progress and co-director of a poverty institute at the Georgetown University law school, told DeParle that:

  “This is evidence of a strikingly unresponsive system.” 

We at Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity are confident that our Advisors will build on this common ground to find a fix for an increasingly alarming policy problem.  

Posted by Jodie


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