Clinton Puts Fighting Poverty Back on the Agenda

While income inequality has been a focus for liberals for a few years now, most of the remedies discussed tend to focus on going after the 1%ers and/or ways to help the middle class. Very rarely does anyone talk about lifting up those who are living in poverty.

On the other hand, conservatives have given lip service to helping the middle class, while they have spent decades deriding LBJ’s “war on poverty” as an utter failure – leading to dependence among those who simply want “free stuff.” Recently, Rep. Paul Ryan attempted to showcase a poverty agenda, but it turned out to simply be a rehash of old GOP ideas coupled with an attempt to roll back the progress made during the Obama years.

Today, Hillary Clinton published an op-ed in the New York Times outlining her plan for combating poverty. Many of the items in it are things she has already proposed. For example:

Jobs, Minimum Wage and Pay Equity

I will work with Democrats and Republicans to make a historic investment in good-paying jobs — jobs in infrastructure and manufacturing, technology and innovation, small businesses and clean energy. And we need to make sure that hard work is rewarded by raising the minimum wage and finally guaranteeing equal pay for women.

Affordable Housing

My plan would expand Low Income Housing Tax Credits in high-cost areas to increase our affordable housing supply, and fuel broader community development. So if you are a family living in an expensive city, you would be able to find an affordable place to call home and have access to the transportation you need to get to good jobs and quality schools.

Child Care, Paid Leave and Pre-K

As president, I will continue my life’s work focused on creating opportunities for children and fairness for families. We need to expand access to high-quality child care and guarantee paid leave so parents at all income levels can balance their jobs and lives. And we will work to double investments in Early Head Start and make preschool available to every 4-year-old because our children deserve the best possible start in life.

To that package, Clinton added this:

We also need to ensure that our investments are reaching the communities suffering the most from decades of neglect. We have got to acknowledge that even though poverty overall has fallen, extreme poverty has increased. Tim Kaine and I will model our anti-poverty strategy on Congressman Jim Clyburn’s 10-20-30 plan, directing 10 percent of federal investments to communities where 20 percent of the population has been living below the poverty line for 30 years. And we’ll put special emphasis on minority communities that have been held back for too long by barriers of systemic racism.

This is actually not a new proposal from Hillary. Almost a year ago she penned an article in EBONY in which she outlined a plan to strengthen communities of color. As part of that agenda, she wrote this:

Ultimately, reversing the legacy of racism and underinvestment will require directing more federal resources to those who need them most. One appealing approach has been proposed by Congressman James Clyburn, who has piloted the “10-20-30” concept—in which 10 percent of funds are directed at communities where at least 20 percent of the population has been living below the poverty line for 30 years or more. I believe the 10-20-30 model holds promise and this principle should be expanded to other programs.

This comprehensive anti-poverty agenda is just one of the ways that Hillary Clinton is running on the most progressive agenda we have seen in decades from a major party candidate. It is important to keep in mind that reducing income inequality requires that we lift up those on the bottom and find ways to include those who have traditionally been left behind.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.