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Issue Position: Poverty

Issue Position

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Issue Position: Poverty

Plan to Combat Poverty

"I'm in this race for the same reason that I fought for jobs for the jobless and hope for the hopeless on the streets of Chicago; for the same reason I fought for justice and equality as a civil rights lawyer; for the same reason that I fought for Illinois families for over a decade… That's why I'm running, Democrats — to keep the American Dream alive for those who still hunger for opportunity, who still thirst for equality."

— Barack Obama, Speech in Des Moines, IA, November 10, 2007

The Problem

Poverty Rising: There are over 37 million poor Americans. Most Americans living in poverty work, but still cannot afford to make ends meet.

Minimum Wage is Not Enough: Even when a parent works full-time earning minimum wage and EITC and food stamps are factored into their income, families are still $1,550 below the federal poverty line because of the flat-lined minimum wage.

Barack Obama and Joe Biden's Plan

Expand Access to Jobs

* Help Americans Grab a Hold of and Climb the Job Ladder: Obama and Biden will invest $1 billion over five years in transitional jobs and career pathway programs that implement proven methods of helping low-income Americans succeed in the workforce.
* Create a Green Jobs Corps: Obama and Biden will create a program to directly engage disadvantaged youth in energy efficiency opportunities to strengthen their communities, while also providing them with practical skills in this important high-growth career field.
* Improve Transportation Access to Jobs: As president, Obama will work to ensure that low-income Americans have transportation access to jobs. Obama will double funding for the federal Jobs Access and Reverse Commute program to ensure that additional federal public transportation dollars flow to the highest-need communities and that urban planning initiatives take this aspect of transportation policy into account.
* Reduce Crime Recidivism by Providing Ex-Offender Supports: Obama and Biden will work to ensure that ex-offenders have access to job training, substance abuse and mental health counseling, and employment opportunities. Obama and Biden will also create a prison-to-work incentive program and reduce barriers to employment.

Make Work Pay for All Americans

* Expand the Earned Income Tax Credit: Obama and Biden will increase the number of working parents eligible for EITC benefits, increase the benefits available to parents who support their children through child support payments, increase benefits for families with three or more children, and reduce the EITC marriage penalty, which hurts low-income families.
* Raise the Minimum Wage to $9.50 an Hour by 2011: Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe that people who work full time should not live in poverty. Even though the minimum wage will rise to $7.25 an hour by 2009, the minimum wage's real purchasing power will still be below what it was in 1968. As president, Obama will further raise the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour by 2011, index it to inflation and increase the Earned Income Tax Credit to make sure that full-time workers can earn a living wage that allows them to raise their families and pay for basic needs such as food, transportation, and housing - things so many people take for granted.
* Provide Tax Relief: Obama and Biden will provide all low and middle-income workers a $500 Making Work Pay tax credit to offset the payroll tax those workers pay in every paycheck. Obama and Biden will also eliminate taxes for seniors making under $50,000 per year.

Strengthen Families

* Promote Responsible Fatherhood: Obama will sign into law his Responsible Fatherhood and Healthy Families Act to remove some of the government penalties on married families, crack down on men avoiding child support payments, and ensure that payments go to families instead of state bureaucracies.
* Support Parents with Young Children: Obama and Biden will expand the highly-successful Nurse-Family Partnership to all 570,000 low-income, first-time mothers each year. The Nurse-Family Partnership provides home visits by trained registered nurses to low-income expectant mothers and their families.
* Expand Paid Sick Days: Today, three-out-of-four low-wage workers have no paid sick days. Obama and Biden support guaranteeing workers seven paid sick days per year.

Increase the Supply of Affordable Housing

* Supports Affordable Housing Trust Fund: Obama has supported efforts to create an Affordable Housing Trust Fund to develop affordable housing in mixed-income neighborhoods.
* Fully Fund the Community Development Block Grant: Obama and Biden will fully fund the Community Development Block Grant program and engage with urban leaders across the country to increase resources to the highest-need Americans.

Tackle Concentrated Poverty

* Establish 20 Promise Neighborhoods: Obama and Biden will create 20 Promise Neighborhoods in areas that have high levels of poverty and crime and low levels of student academic achievement in cities across the nation. The Promise Neighborhoods will be modeled after the Harlem Children's Zone, which provides a full network of services, including early childhood education, youth violence prevention efforts and after-school activities, to an entire neighborhood from birth to college.
* Ensure Community-Based Investment Resources in Every Urban Community: Obama and Biden will work with community and business leaders to identify and address the unique economic development barriers of every major metropolitan area. Obama and Biden will provide additional resources to the federal Community Development Financial Institution Fund, the Small Business Administration and other federal agencies, especially to their local branch offices, to address community needs.
* Invest in Rural Areas: Obama and Biden will invest in rural small businesses and fight to expand high-speed Internet access. They will improve rural schools and attract more doctors to rural areas. And they will implement a bold climate change and energy independence plan that will revitalize rural America through new investments in renewable energy production, including wind, solar and biofuel investments.

Barack Obama's Record

* Tax Relief for Low-Income Working Families: Obama created the Illinois Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income working families in 2000 and successfully sponsored a measure to make the credit permanent in 2003. The law offered about $105 million in tax relief over three years.
* Housing: In the Illinois State Senate, Obama championed multiple pieces of legislation to help low-income families find adequate affordable housing.


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