December 1, 2010; Source: Spotlight on Poverty | A good chunk of the nonprofit sector says it is about fighting poverty. This blog posting by Barbara Blum, former Commissioner of the NY State Department of Social Services, posted on the Spotlight on Poverty website, provides an interesting perspective on what the Obama Administration has been doing, in her estimation, to fight poverty.
Blum argues that the Obama Administration’s “quiet campaign” against poverty is built on “three key planks: building human capital, enforcing wage and hour standards, and providing income-enhancing benefits.”
In the human capital plank, Blum places the “Race to the Top” K-12 education reform effort, the Administration’s support for community colleges, revisions in the system for federal financial aid for students, and implementation of the post-9/11 GI Bill. On the income enhancement agenda, she credits the Administration with trying to remove barriers preventing families from getting food stamps (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), child nutrition subsidies, and Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) funds. She argues, “the good news is that we can accomplish a lot without new legislation, building on the quiet campaign for change.”
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Blum concludes, “The Obama administration is focused intently on easing poverty, more so than perhaps any administration since the mid-1960s.”
We have three questions for NPQ readers from their perches from the front lines of the fight against poverty: (1) How effective has the Obama Administration’s quiet campaign against poverty been? (2) Given the less-than-quiet election of conservative Congressmen pledged to cut back the size and involvement of government, does the quiet campaign to fight poverty need to become a bit louder? (3) With unemployment benefits expiring and perhaps unlikely to be extended by the new conservative Congress, what is your perspective on the prospects for future anti-poverty progress or regression?—Rick Cohen