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Restarting the War On Poverty


Konczal on a Worthwhile Democratic Initiative:

Tuesday morning, President Obama put the final piece of his inequality agenda on the table. In releasing his 2015 budget, he calls for an additional $60 billion dollars in anti-poverty spending by expanding the earned income tax credit (EITC) for those without children, as well as making it eligible to younger and older workers. The earned income tax credit is a program that boosts the wages of low-income workers, particularly those with children, through the tax code. This expansion will benefit 7.7 million workers already getting the EITC, and allow an additional 5.8 million workers to take advantage of the program.

With this proposal, President Obama has a full anti-inequality agenda. In turning to inequality as the generational challenge of our times, President Obama has emphasized three sets of problems. The first is runaway incomes at the top, which he has used to justify the need for financial regulations as well as higher taxes on the rich. The second is stagnating incomes in the middle, which health care reform is meant to challenge. And the last is economic insecurity at the bottom, which he’s focused on with a higher minimum wage, expanded Medicaid access, and now an expanded earned income tax credit.

It’s certainly a good start. Konzcal also does a good job contrasting the approach to the Republican War on the Poor.

However! I have good news — major congressional Republicans have spent years asserting support for expanding the EITC. Granted, this is not entirely good news — I’m dismayed that Obama is adopting the Republican anti-poverty agenda just like he adopted longstanding Republican health care priorities like “massive Medicaid expansion” and “much heavier health insurance regulations.” But if we’re willing to forgive him for being a worse sellout than Flip Your Wig, at least this means legislation substantially expanding the EITC should sail through Congress before summer. After all, the idea that this Republican support for EITC expansion could merely be a strategic decoy would be one-dimensional tic-tac-toe eleventy-trillion dimensional chess of such unfathomable complexity Niccolo Machiavelli could never have even begun to imagine such a thing. Hopefully Obama already has the pen picked out.

…as a commenter notes, while not directly about poverty killing the carried-interest loophole, which is in the budget, would be an excellent idea. Extra-special DOA in the House, but an excellent idea.

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