WASHINGTON, D.C.— Joint Economic Committee Democrats today released a report on the importance of supporting children and eliminating child poverty in the United States ahead of the Census Bureau’s 2018 Income and Poverty Report. Not only does alleviating the burden of poverty improve the lives of the children it directly affects, but the benefits ripple throughout the entire economy, the report finds. The current House version of the farm bill is the latest in a string of Republican attacks on many key anti-poverty programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Medicaid. The report calls for continuing to fund important anti-poverty programs that are known to work, as well as considering new approaches to combating child poverty.
“Instead of slashing budgets and cutting benefits that support children and their families—as Congressional Republicans and the Trump administration have attempted to do to pay for their massive tax giveaway for the wealthy and corporate interests—we need to invest in the future of our economy and support our children,” said U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Ranking Member of the Joint Economic Committee. “Eliminating child poverty is the morally right thing to do and sets up children for success in the future. With the right resources to thrive later in life, children will be able to contribute and generate growth for our economy. We must expand investments in our children and continue to strengthen key programs like Medicaid and SNAP.”
The report, “Supporting Children is Key to a Strong Economy,” highlights that a robust workforce is a key driver of economic growth, and that those who grow up with fewer economic resources typically have lower levels of education which in turn hurts their future job prospects and earnings. The report details that dropping out of school, more common for children in low-income households, impacts a youth’s future earnings substantially. Lost wages as a consequence of childhood poverty reduce gross domestic product (GDP) by 1.6 percent per year, which is an annual cost of about $294 billion.
The report also suggests ways to invest in children to tackle poverty. Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) have insured 35.5 million children, and Medicaid expansion has also increased children’s coverage. Furthermore, Congress and the federal government should invest in high-quality early learning and care to reduce learning gaps between low-income and high-income children. Nutritional programs like SNAP are proven to set children up for better health and economic outcomes. And tax credits like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) help families who are struggling to make ends meet receive a much needed wage boost. It is imperative that Congress strengthen and expand these important anti-poverty programs in order to combat child poverty and promote a thriving future economy.
Click here to view the full report.