Category Archives: poverty

>As A Matter Of Fact…State pleads poverty to reduce tax credits for working families, but has enough to provide tax credits for corporations

>April 18th, 2011

For working families struggling to make ends meet, the state Earned Income Tax Credit is a necessity, and the Christie Administration’s 25 percent reduction in the credit this year for about a half million New Jersey families is a devastating increase in the taxes they owe.

Today, on tax day, it’s important to note that a parent with two children working full time at the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour (about $15,000 a year) will owe $300 more in taxes – or more than a week’s wages.

These are the same families who are also being targeted for other cuts in services that are essential to their independence. Last year about 48,000 uninsured parents who received the state EITC were denied health coverage through NJFamilyCare. That number is expected to rise to 92,000 parents this year.

It is getting to the point in New Jersey where, for many marginal families, it simply doesn’t pay to work. Aside from stripping those working families of their independence, it creates an even greater cost to the state.

The governor’s favorite rock star, Bruce Springsteen, recently cited a Legal Services of New Jersey report in a letter to the Asbury Park Press, writing, “the cuts are eating away at the lower edges of the middle class, not just those already classified as in poverty, and are likely to continue to get worse over the next few years.” The census data backs up his assertion. From 2005 to 2009 lower income groups increased, the middle class shrank and the number of wealthier people increased in New Jersey. Economics plays a role in this, but so does state policy.

This cutback in tax credits for working families comes even as the Christie administration and the Legislature are expanding tax credits for corporations in New Jersey.

For example, last month the state awarded Campbell Soup a $41 million tax credit to renovate its corporate headquarters, move 49 jobs from Cherry Hill to Camden and hire 50 new employees at the Camden site over the next 10 years. The credit includes $6.3 million for new furniture. Campbell qualifies for the subsidy, officially called the Urban Transit Hub Tax Credit, which is aimed at redeveloping urban centers, because its offices are within a mile of the Walter Rand Transportation Center.

The total cost to the state to fund that tax credit to Campbell Soup is nearly as much as the $45 million in savings gained by reducing the state EITC.

So who needs this help the most, one of the largest corporation in America or working New Jerseyans who can barely make ends meet to support their children? It’s unfortunate example of why the state needs a more balanced approach — one that doesn’t focus only on cuts in services, but also balances the demand for shared sacrifice fairly between working families and giant corporations.

Interested in learning more about the Earned Income Tax Credit? Check out this piece by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:

A Hand Up: How State Earned Income Tax Credits Help Working Families Escape Poverty in 2011

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Filed under As a Matter of Fact, blog, Bruce Springsteen, corporate tax breaks, Earned Income Tax Credit, Gov. Chris Christie, New Jersey Policy Perspective, NJFamilyCare, poverty

NJPP Monday Minute 6/28/10: WHY THE BUDGET FALLS SHORT FOR VULNERABLE FAMILIES

There has been much fanfare regarding the restoration of a few programs that serve vulnerable people in the FY 2011 budget. But make no mistake; the budget expected to pass the Legislature today requires the greatest sacrifice from vulnerable working families hit hardest by the recession.

Let’s put the restorations in perspective. They amount to about $68 million, not including PAAD which was restored in an earlier separate agreement, in a budget which would spend just over $28 billion. As the governor’s chief of staff pointed out, these restorations amount to only about two-tenths of a percent (.02%) of the total state budget. He thought that was a good thing.

The Anti-Poverty Network indentified 26 programs (see list below) that were cut in the Christie budget that primarily affect the most vulnerable: low and moderate income families; the elderly; and people with disabilities. The list is conservative in that it does not include program cuts to items such as transportation and education, which serve mostly middle class and higher income groups as well as large numbers of low income people. The budget restorations only fund seven of those programs, leaving $262 million in program cuts to the most vulnerable.

The largest restoration was in General Assistance, which provides temporary financial assistance to unemployed adults without children. The Christie budget would have eliminated the entire $140 a month stipend, which is often the only source of income they have. The Legislature and the governor are to be commended for at least partially restoring this vital safety net program.

However, the administration did not restore cuts to the two largest programs that help vulnerable families remain independent. State and federal funding for New Jersey FamilyCare, which provides affordable health insurance for children and certain low income parents or guardians, was reduced by about $100 million. Enrollment has already been closed for parents with incomes between 133 percent and 200 percent of the federal poverty level ($24,352 to $36,620 for a parent with two children). This cut will be continued in FY 2011 resulting in 39,000 uninsured parents being denied health insurance at the same time many employers are dropping health coverage. Also, about 11,700 legal immigrant parents who have been in this country less than five years and currently receive health insurance through FamilyCare will lose their coverage altogether.

The state Earned Income Tax Credit was cut by $45 million, which will in effect increase taxes for 485,000 lower income households. At the same time, the governor refused to continue higher tax rates on those in the uppermost brackets, households with more than $400,000 in annual income. About 77 percent of the households that received the state EITC are working families with children. A parent earning the minimum wage in a full time job ($15,000) with two children will see his or her taxes increase by $300 as a result of this action. Taxes for wealthy households, on the other hand, will be cut by thousands of dollars.

It is also disturbing that the governor has opposed legislation which would restore the funds for the state EITC, if federal funds become available specifically for this purpose. Congress appears likely to act on legislation that would make $120 million in emergency contingency funds available to New Jersey without costing the state a dime. But the administration has rejected a budget resolution from Sen. Shirley Turner which would require that if such funds become available in FY 2011 they would be used to restore the state EITC cutback.

While the budget treats each of these programs separately, the cutbacks will have a cumulative impact on vulnerable families. Virtually all of the families that will lose or be denied health coverage in FamilyCare will also have the state EITC reduced. Many of these same families will also be denied vital supports like family planning, school breakfast, legal services, and affordable housing. None of the cuts in these programs have been restored in this budget. The combined effect on some families will be devastating and have long term consequences for them and the state’s economy.

Attempts are being made to restore some of these funds to vulnerable families in separate legislation. Senator Loretta Weinberg has introduced a bill to restore funding for family planning and Senator Joseph Vitale and Assemblyman Lou Greenwald have bills to restore funding for FamilyCare. If these bills pass the legislature, however, the governor is likely to veto these bills, as he did when the legislature passed a millionaires’ tax increase a month ago.

What some see as fiscal conservatism might be seen by others as plain mean-spiritedness.

It would appear that the deal on the FY 2011 budget is final but the fight to protect and support struggling working families in this high cost state must continue.


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Filed under budget cuts, budget deficit, Gov. Chris Christie, Loretta Weinberg, Monday Minute, New Jersey Policy Perspective, NJ FamilyCare, poverty, tax credits

>The Bush Years

>


NBC News compiles a devastating list of statistics to show what the United States looked like when George W. Bush entered office in January 2001 and what it looks like today as he’s leaving. The numbers are striking, here are a few:

UNEMPLOYMENT RATE
Then: 4.2% (Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 2001)
Now: 6.7% (Bureau of Labor Statistics, November 2008)

DOW JONES INDUSTRIAL AVERAGE
Then: 10,587 (close of Friday, Jan. 19, 2001)
Now: 9,015 (close of Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2009)

FAMILIES LIVING IN POVERTY
Then: 6.4 million (Census numbers for 2000)
Now: 7.6 million (Census numbers for 2007 — most recent numbers available)

AMERICANS WITHOUT HEALTH INSURANCE
Then: 39.8 million (Census numbers for 2000)
Now: 45.7 million (Census numbers for 2007 — most recent available)

U.S. BUDGET (deficit)
Then: +236.2 billion (2000, Congressional Budget Office)
Now: -$1.2 trillion (projected figure for 2009, Congressional Budget Office)

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Filed under Dow Jones Industrial Average, health insurance, NBC News, political wire, poverty, President Bush, unemployment rate, US Budget

The Bush Years


NBC News compiles a devastating list of statistics to show what the United States looked like when George W. Bush entered office in January 2001 and what it looks like today as he’s leaving. The numbers are striking, here are a few:

UNEMPLOYMENT RATE
Then: 4.2% (Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 2001)
Now: 6.7% (Bureau of Labor Statistics, November 2008)

DOW JONES INDUSTRIAL AVERAGE
Then: 10,587 (close of Friday, Jan. 19, 2001)
Now: 9,015 (close of Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2009)

FAMILIES LIVING IN POVERTY
Then: 6.4 million (Census numbers for 2000)
Now: 7.6 million (Census numbers for 2007 — most recent numbers available)

AMERICANS WITHOUT HEALTH INSURANCE
Then: 39.8 million (Census numbers for 2000)
Now: 45.7 million (Census numbers for 2007 — most recent available)

U.S. BUDGET (deficit)
Then: +236.2 billion (2000, Congressional Budget Office)
Now: -$1.2 trillion (projected figure for 2009, Congressional Budget Office)

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Filed under Dow Jones Industrial Average, health insurance, NBC News, political wire, poverty, President Bush, unemployment rate, US Budget

>Where Do We Go from Here?

>Sen. Bernie Sanders  from Vermont has an interesting essay posted on the Hill’s Congress blog today. It outlines some of the failures of the past eight years and what will be waiting for Barack Obama when he takes office on January 20th. 

Sanders also lists a few initiatives that he will be working on in the Senate come the new year, it’s good stuff:

The next few months will be a pivotal period in the history of the United States and for much of the world. The Bush Administration, perhaps the most reactionary and incompetent that our country has ever seen, is leaving office after eight disastrous years. President Barack Obama and an increased Democratic majority take power amidst the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

The decisions that are made early on will send an important signal as to whether Obama’s campaign of “hope” and “change” will be seriously pursued and realized, or whether the power of the Big Money interests will persist — regardless of which president is in office or which party has the majority. Will a new president and a new and more Democratic Congress finally respond to the needs of the middle class and working families of our country, or will Wall Street, insurance and drug companies, the military-industrial-complex, the oil and coal companies, big media, and the other powerful special interests continue to hold sway?

Here are just a few of the issues that President Obama, the Congress and all Americans must confront:

The middle class is continuing its steep decline with unemployment soaring, and millions of people in danger of losing their homes, savings, and health insurance. The dream of a college education is fading away for many working families as college costs go up while incomes go down. This year, as a result of the economic downturn, the bailout of Wall Street, ongoing tax breaks for the very rich and the war in Iraq, our nation will have a record-breaking deficit and a huge $10.4 trillion national debt. The United States continues to have the highest rate of childhood poverty of any major country, and the most unequal distribution of wealth and income.

As a result of Wall Street greed, recklessness, and dishonesty, our entire financial system is in danger of collapsing. The taxpayers of this country have seen trillions of their dollars placed at risk in the largest bailout in world history.

Our incredibly inefficient health care system is disintegrating. Despite spending far more per capita than any other country, 47 million Americans have no health insurance. Even more are underinsured. And we pay the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs.


Finish reading Berinie Sanders’s blog posting >>>Here

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Filed under Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders, Congress, Congress Blog, Democratic Majority, Great Depression, Healthcare, Iraq War, national debt, poverty, President Bush, The Hill, Vermont, Wall Street

Where Do We Go from Here?

Sen. Bernie Sanders  from Vermont has an interesting essay posted on the Hill’s Congress blog today. It outlines some of the failures of the past eight years and what will be waiting for Barack Obama when he takes office on January 20th. 

Sanders also lists a few initiatives that he will be working on in the Senate come the new year, it’s good stuff:

The next few months will be a pivotal period in the history of the United States and for much of the world. The Bush Administration, perhaps the most reactionary and incompetent that our country has ever seen, is leaving office after eight disastrous years. President Barack Obama and an increased Democratic majority take power amidst the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

The decisions that are made early on will send an important signal as to whether Obama’s campaign of “hope” and “change” will be seriously pursued and realized, or whether the power of the Big Money interests will persist — regardless of which president is in office or which party has the majority. Will a new president and a new and more Democratic Congress finally respond to the needs of the middle class and working families of our country, or will Wall Street, insurance and drug companies, the military-industrial-complex, the oil and coal companies, big media, and the other powerful special interests continue to hold sway?

Here are just a few of the issues that President Obama, the Congress and all Americans must confront:

The middle class is continuing its steep decline with unemployment soaring, and millions of people in danger of losing their homes, savings, and health insurance. The dream of a college education is fading away for many working families as college costs go up while incomes go down. This year, as a result of the economic downturn, the bailout of Wall Street, ongoing tax breaks for the very rich and the war in Iraq, our nation will have a record-breaking deficit and a huge $10.4 trillion national debt. The United States continues to have the highest rate of childhood poverty of any major country, and the most unequal distribution of wealth and income.

As a result of Wall Street greed, recklessness, and dishonesty, our entire financial system is in danger of collapsing. The taxpayers of this country have seen trillions of their dollars placed at risk in the largest bailout in world history.

Our incredibly inefficient health care system is disintegrating. Despite spending far more per capita than any other country, 47 million Americans have no health insurance. Even more are underinsured. And we pay the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs.


Finish reading Berinie Sanders’s blog posting >>>Here

Leave a comment

Filed under Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders, Congress, Congress Blog, Democratic Majority, Great Depression, Healthcare, Iraq War, national debt, poverty, President Bush, The Hill, Vermont, Wall Street