Institute for Public Accuracy
980 National Press Building, Washington, D.C. 20045
(202) 347-0020 * *

The New York Times is reporting: “Forty-four million people in the
United States, or one in seven residents, lived in poverty in 2009, an
increase of 4 million from the year before, the Census Bureau reported
on Thursday.”

Mink is co-editor of the two-volume “Poverty in the United States:
An Encyclopedia of History, Politics and Policy” and author of
“Welfare’s End.” She said today: “The rise in poverty in 2009 — the
largest number of people in poverty in the 51 years poverty has been
measured — should be a wake-up call to politicians in both parties who
have spent the past 30 years shredding the safety net. The spread of
poverty in the past year is only partially explained by the economic
collapse of 2008 and the prolonged, acute problem of unemployment that
followed and continues. Since 1980, income supports for low-income
people have been withdrawn, eroded, and withheld. Notwithstanding the
current recession — deep and intractable as it is — economic support
for poor Americans has remained meager, stingy, and inaccessible.

“Between December 2007 and April 2010, TANF [Temporary Assistance
for Needy Families] caseloads increased only 12 percent — even though a
48 percent rise in Food Stamp caseloads attests to the exponential
growth in need during that period. The minimal rise in TANF enrollments
is not due to an improvement in the economic circumstances of low-income
families, especially single mother families. In fact, single mothers are
disproportionately unemployed, disproportionately shunted into part-time
employment, and disproportionately paid very low wages. The low
comparative rise in TANF enrollments is due to the active discouragement
of welfare participation by eligible families, the rigid conditions for
welfare participation, and the rise of ineligibility due to draconian
time limits under so-called ‘welfare reform.’ The grim new poverty
numbers expose a state of economic emergency for low income Americans.
It is time to end the 30-year war on the poor and re-dedicate ourselves
first to alleviating current misery and then to eliminating poverty.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020, (202) 421-6858; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167