US Government: A Friend With Benefits

For millions of Americans hit hard by the recession, they can easily find that government is their last friend left, Charles M. Blow writes in his New York Times column.

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U.S. job growth remains stagnant. (Getty Images)

In his New York Times column, Charles M. Blow writes about a recent report from the Census Bureau that shows not only are there more poor people in America than previously reported, but the only thing keeping millions more out of poverty is government aid. This aid comes in the form of the very same safety net programs that are reviled by Republicans. 

For decades, experts on both sides of the poverty debate have complained that the official government measure is flawed because it doesn't account for measures like benefits from government programs, health care costs or taxes.

So, to address those concerns, the Census Bureau this week released a Supplemental Poverty Measure, or S.P.M. The new measure changed the composition of the poor but found that it was a larger group -- the official 2010 poverty rate was 15.2 percent, but the S.P.M. rate was 16 percent.

Even more important, the report highlighted the role government programs play in mitigating it. Many of these programs were expanded under the Obama administration with the much-maligned stimulus package. Now many of those expansions are scheduled to expire, and a new crop of callous Republicans threatens to not just trim the fat but to cut the meat.

Read Charles M. Blow's entire column at the New York Times.

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