We agree that the focus in the near term will be on the economy –
rebuilding and recovery. I think there is plenty of opportunity in that
effort to change the lens – shifting from ‘helping the poor’ to
strengthening the labor market and our economy with more good jobs.
For example, while advocates call for eliminating the time limits
in the Temporary Assistance block grant funding, Obama wisely responds
by calling for structural changes to state unemployment insurance that
would make more low-wage workers eligible. That’s a smart pivot and a
policy with broad appeal affecting many of the same jobs.
Like Bob, I believe there will be lots of opportunity in coming
years to focus on getting the details of specific legislative proposals
right. And there are plenty of DC-based advocates who are really,
really good at using the data to make sure the legislation responds to
their understanding of reality on the ground.
What we lack in DC is leadership for a high-level conversation that
reaches beyond our core audience to build support for better policy on
low-wage work. And the coming years present that opportunity too – for
the first time in a long time we have a leader who really understands
our issues and how to talk about them effectively.
That is why it’s completely relevant to comment on the ongoing advocacy effort for establishing a “poverty goal”.
on a poverty goal will suck up foundation and human resources on a
strategy that isn’t going to work – for all the reasons that I outlined
in the op-ed
And there are still too many foundations and organizations — the
Center for American Progress
, Half in Ten
, Spotlight on Poverty and
– promoting goal setting on poverty.
campaign is not just a waste of resources and energy. It also has the
effect of reinforcing the very public understanding of poverty that
makes it more difficult to achieve the policy changes we seek.
We also agree that it will be important to develop the public
conversation about the concept of inclusion
. In fact, we’ve proposed
(to ahem…some foundations) a research project on how to talk about
inclusion in the United States. It will be critical to explore with
communications experts what will work here. We also need to develop
consensus on how to measure the effectiveness of this national effort.
This two-part approach to adopting a new goal is a much better use
of limited resources in the next couple years than the wasteful effort
to establish poverty goals.
It does not look like the next
President will adopt a poverty goal. But, he might well be very
interested in a new and better goal based on social and economic