New Bipartisan Report on Reducing Poverty and Promoting Opportunity Released

Posted December 4, 2015
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Blog New Bipartisan Report 2015

A polit­i­cal­ly diverse group of experts on pover­ty has set aside dif­fer­ences and cre­at­ed a detailed plan for reduc­ing pover­ty and increas­ing eco­nom­ic mobil­i­ty.

The plan, out­lined in a report released Dec. 3 at an event at the Nation­al Press Club in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., calls for each side of the par­ti­san divide to acknowl­edge that the oth­er side has impor­tant insights and pol­i­cy pro­pos­als. For example:

  • To improve the sta­bil­i­ty and secu­ri­ty of fam­i­ly envi­ron­ments, the report states both that mar­riage mat­ters to children’s devel­op­ment (as the right has long main­tained) and that fam­i­ly plan­ning and par­ent­ing edu­ca­tion pro­grams pay off (as the left has long maintained).
  • To improve edu­ca­tion, the report endors­es both pub­lic char­ter schools (which con­ser­v­a­tives have pro­mot­ed) and com­mu­ni­ty schools that serve as hubs that deliv­er need­ed health and social ser­vices to chil­dren and par­ents (which pro­gres­sives have promoted).
  • To raise lev­els of work and earn­ings among the poor, the report rec­om­mends that the min­i­mum wage be increased (which the left wants), while also propos­ing that work require­ments in wel­fare pro­grams be strength­ened (which the right wants).

With sup­port from the Amer­i­can Enter­prise Insti­tute (AEI), the Brook­ings Insti­tu­tion, the Ford Foun­da­tion and Casey, the group worked togeth­er for more than a year to review the best avail­able evi­dence and craft a plan that all believe would be effec­tive. The key to their suc­cess was the recog­ni­tion that all of them — like near­ly all Amer­i­cans — believe in three core val­ues: oppor­tu­ni­ty, respon­si­bil­i­ty, and secu­ri­ty. When poli­cies are ground­ed firm­ly in these val­ues, the chances both sides of the polit­i­cal divide will accept them are great­ly increased.

Among the major achieve­ments of the plan is a chap­ter offer­ing an unbi­ased state-of-the-art review of the basic facts about pover­ty, mobil­i­ty, edu­ca­tion, employ­ment, and mar­riage in Amer­i­ca today. Too often these facts have been politi­cized; experts on left and right have not even been able to agree on whether pover­ty has declined since 1980 (it has) or on whether eco­nom­ic mobil­i­ty is greater in the US than in oth­er indus­tri­al­ized coun­tries (it is not). This high­ly acces­si­ble facts” chap­ter will improve pol­i­cy dis­cus­sions for years to come.

Anoth­er note­wor­thy achieve­ment is that the report simul­ta­ne­ous­ly address­es three inter­lock­ing domains of Amer­i­can life — fam­i­ly, work, and edu­ca­tion. For too long, progress against pover­ty has been ham­pered by the stove-piped focus of pol­i­cy­mak­ers on one or anoth­er issue in iso­la­tion, ignor­ing the fact that fam­i­ly, work and edu­ca­tion are high­ly inter­de­pen­dent. This report calls for strong, simul­ta­ne­ous action on all three so as to ampli­fy the aggre­gate impact of our poli­cies,” said David Ell­wood of Har­vard Uni­ver­si­ty, a mem­ber of the group that wrote the report.

Cit­ing Abra­ham Lin­coln, the authors of the report argue that it should be a shared nation­al mis­sion to clear paths of laud­able pur­suit for all; to afford all an unfet­tered start and a fair chance in the race of life.”

The Casey Foun­da­tion is pleased to have sup­port­ed this effort and report.

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