Government Aid Helped Cut Poverty Rate Nearly in Half

Government aid helped keep many Americans from sinking deeper into poverty.

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Alexander Eichler at the Huffington Post reports that government aid has kept many Americans from sinking into abject poverty.

The Census Bureau estimates that last year a record 46 million people lived below the poverty line, and revised figures released this week suggest that the number may in fact be more than that.

But without government programs aimed at helping citizens most in need, the poverty rate would be almost twice that, with more than a quarter of all Americans being classified as poor, according to a new study.

These findings come from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, whose new report shows that in the absence of the social safety net, the poverty rate would rise to 28.6 percent from the current official measure of 15.1 percent.

Social safety net programs, as defined by the CBPP, include unemployment insurance, Social Security, veterans' benefits, housing assistance, and a raft of other measures, including half a dozen initiatives included in the 2009 Recovery Act.

As we look for ways to cut the federal deficit, we mustn't forget the value of the social safety net in keeping Americans out of poverty. The next step is job creation.

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