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Vox: Social Security, food stamps, and other programs kept 44 million people out of poverty last year

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Vox: Social Security, food stamps, and other programs kept 44 million people out of poverty last year

Reports out this week include some encouraging statistics—but as early as next year, the state of our country might look very different.

Despite Republicans’ attempts to gut key programs like Social Security, SNAP, and Medicaid, the U.S. Census Bureau reports that those programs directly kept 44.9 million people out of poverty in 2017.

That’s great news, and a reminder of the urgent need for these programs, which Sherrod fights for every day. But Republicans undoubtedly won’t give up on their efforts to dismantle them. If you’re ready to push back, show your support for Sherrod now:

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Vox: Social Security, food stamps, and other programs kept 44 million people out of poverty last year

Alexia Fernández Campbell – September 12, 2018

Key points:

  • The U.S. Census Bureau just put out its annual statistics on American poverty and income, and the data shows that 2017 was a good year for many Americans, and not-so-great for others.
  • On the upside: 2.4 million more people snagged full-time jobs, the median household income ticked up, and poverty rates dropped slightly.
  • On the downside: Women still earned about 80 cents for every dollar a man earned, incomes grew slower than they did in the previous two years, and that income growth mostly benefited the richest 10 percent of US families.
  • The bottom 10% of US households—earning an average income of $14,219—saw their incomes fall slightly compared to the previous year, adjusting for inflation.
  • But one of the most striking data points shows the massive economic impact that federal entitlement programs, such as food stamps and housing subsidies, have on low-wage workers.
  • During President Donald Trump’s first year in office, income from these safety net programs directly kept 44.9 million people out of poverty in 2017. That’s 200,000 more people compared to 2016.
  • Of all the social safety net programs, Social Security had the biggest impact last year, keeping 27 million people above the poverty level, which was $12,060 for an individual in 2017.
  • Refundable tax credits, such as the earned income tax credit, helped another 8.3 million people. Food stamps (a.k.a. SNAP), disability insurance, and housing subsidies each kept about 3 million people from falling into poverty
  • That good news, however, was (partly) canceled out by one of the most persistent drivers of economic hardship: health care costs. In 2017, out-of-pocket medical costs, which includes health insurance premiums, copays, and prescription drug costs, pushed the incomes of 10.9 million people below the poverty threshold. That’s 400,000 more people who were impoverished by medical bills in 2017, compared to last year.
  • However, it’s no secret that Trump and Republican leaders want to gut the government’s anti-poverty programs. The president’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2019 would slash spending on Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, and housing assistance over the next 10 years.

Read more here.