Spotlight Exclusives

The Road From Here

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The presidential campaigns steamed out of New Hampshire this week and the Spotlight on Poverty moved into a new year of existence. It’s a reasonable time to take stock of where the issue of poverty is on the public agenda and what the road ahead looks like.

A fair observer would conclude that the issue of poverty has had mixed success on the campaign trail. On the one hand, candidates from both parties have mentioned it, and it received some media coverage. Indeed, a study we will release soon shows a marked increase in media references to poverty in 2007 compared to 2003, the last pre-presidential year. This site has documented the issue of poverty on the campaign trail, and though it is not as common as we’d like, it۪s more than most pundits would probably have expected. And with the bulk of the campaign ahead, it۪s likely policies may be a bigger focus and the problem of poverty among them.

Here on our site’s Commentary front we’re proud of the emerging dialogue about poverty that we’ve been able to foster. The issue of the Earned Income Tax Credit has seen particularly substantive exchanges, and pointed the way for some progress. My colleague John Bridgeland opened the discussion with some interesting views from across the aisle, and Chairman Rangel laid out a compelling vision of what he will attempt to do in Congress. Recently, Will Marshall and Katie Campbell weighed in with a view from the Progressive Policy Institute, a long-time hotbed of EITC support.

We’ve seen other positive signs. At our launch, a crowded room at the National Press Club and linked in audiences heard prominent leaders from both sides of the aisle urge a new energy on the poverty front. The enthusiasm that day was strong, and ready to be tapped into. We’ve found this available energy when we’ve talked to prospective contributors. Remarkably, no one has turned us down, and busy leaders like Governor Spitzer quickly submitted interesting ideas.

All that we’ve seen first-hand, and via the news clips we’ve posted these last months, is that there is a budding interest in poverty policy. What remains is to work hard, and see where it leads. Hopefully this site will be one place where the dialogue, coalitions, energy, and groundwork for new policy ideas can continue to take shape, and a new Administration can turn some of the ideas into new policy.

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