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Report Shows Progress Against Poverty in PA, But Threats Ahead

Despite record high stock prices, budget proposals cut taxes for the rich and aid for the poor. (alessandrodandrea/Pixabay)
Despite record high stock prices, budget proposals cut taxes for the rich and aid for the poor. (alessandrodandrea/Pixabay)
October 23, 2017

HARRISBURG, Pa. – Poverty in Pennsylvania is almost back to pre-recession levels, but the programs that made that possible are under threat from Washington, according to a new report from the Coalition on Human Needs (CHN) and the Community Action Association of Pennsylvania (CAAP).

Census Bureau statistics show poverty rates in the Keystone State reached 12.9 in 2016. That's a big improvement from a high of almost 16 percent in 2012.

But according to Susan Moore, CEO of CAAP, those gains are in jeopardy.

"The very programs that have helped to put poverty on a downward turn are on the chopping block from Congress and the Trump administration," she points out.

The administration says tax cuts will grow the economy, creating more jobs.

But analysts say cuts to social programs would keep hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians in poverty.

Deborah Weinstein, executive director of CHN, says that's because trillions of dollars would be cut from all of the programs that help lift people out of poverty.

"Including Medicaid and Medicare, low-income tax credits, housing assistance,” she points out. “They would also cut things that give people the tools to be able to compete in the economy like education."

Over 10 years, the 2018 budget that passed the House would cut almost $3 trillion from programs serving low- and moderate-income people.

Moore points out that, at the same time, corporate profits are up and the stock market is at an all-time high.

"We're at a place in time where this country is extremely prosperous,” she notes. “We need to be a country where everybody shares in that, not just a very small few. So, we need to not cut programs. We don't need to cut programs."

Moore adds that cuts to social programs will disproportionately affect populations that have consistently higher levels of poverty, including communities of color, children and the elderly.



Andrea Sears, Public News Service - PA