On Tuesday, the U.S. Census Bureau released new data showing what we had feared: a devastating rise in U.S. poverty.
In 2022, 15 million more people lived in poverty in our country than in 2021. Shamefully, the number of children living in poverty more than doubled in that time, jumping from a historic low of 5.2% in 2021 to 12.4% last year.
The release of the latest poverty figures comes as the House is poised to appropriate $826 billion in military spending and is considering additional tax breaks for powerful corporations. In the wealthiest country in the world, it’s simply unconscionable to pour billions more dollars into the coffers of weapons contractors and major corporations while millions of children are forced to live in poverty.
It’s never been clearer that poverty is a policy choice. The rise in poverty is a direct result of Congress’s failure to renew the expanded Child Tax Credit and other vital assistance programs. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, renewing the Child Tax Credit would have cost just $12 billion annually—a tiny fraction of the military budget or the cost of corporate tax breaks. Doing so would have kept three million children out of poverty last year.
We have the resources and the policy solutions needed to ensure that all our people, particularly children, can live in dignity and security. In the future, Congress will have ample opportunities to invest in proven solutions, like the Child Tax Credit, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and critical anti-hunger programs. What’s badly needed is the political will in Congress to re-evaluate our national priorities and right this wrong.
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