America is one of the richest countries in the world, yet an estimated 43.1 million live in poverty. In your view, how can the American government reduce extreme poverty?
The Center for American Progress has suggested that there are 10 major steps which Congress could take to dramatically reduce poverty and revitalize the middle class of America. These steps include:
- Increasing employment levels by developing and investing in job-creation strategies that would prove to be beneficial for local communities and neighborhoods and would decrease long term-unemployment.
- Create more effective work schedules which are not predicated on shifting hours and do not further encumber workers who are attempting to locate effective childcare for their children. This is supported by the Schedule That Work Act, which requires employers to provide two weeks' notice of what an employee's schedule will look like and prevent them from being penalized if they request a change in schedule.
- Raising the minimum wage so that it is indexed to inflation would effectively raise 4 million Americans out of poverty and would tremendously benefit the children of workers who live off this kind of wage.
- Invest in programs (such as the Child Care and Development Block Grant and Head Start) and passing measures (such as the Strong Start for America's Children Act) which would promote better quality, more affordable child care and early education—a major barrier to workers with children who struggle to pay for these services, thus, limiting their job availability and reinforcing their poverty.
- Increase the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) so that it benefits workers who do not yet have children, rather than only rewarding those with children. This would also be a measure that goes hand-in-hand with raising the minimum wage.
- Ensure that workers are offered paid sick days and paid leave—the absence of which often results in workers with children suffering tremendous financial consequences if they or their child becomes sick. These measures are supported by both the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act and the Healthy Families Act.
- Expand Medicaid to cover adults who are on the brink of poverty so that household income that is not disposable does not need to be siphoned away from critical necessities for survival.
- End the epidemic of mass incarceration which has stripped many children of their parents and which continues to serve as a barrier to employment once formerly incarcerated individuals are released.
- Stop cutting funding from critical programs that provide necessary relief to the impoverished population!
Raising of America also makes a noteworthy addition to this list by emphasizing that the structural racism present within the United States needs to be firmly addressed and dealt with so that minorities are no longer targeted by zoning issues, lack of resources, and diminished social capital.