Brookings Institution: Ron Haskins & John Podesta: ‘Making Work Pay Again This Time For Men’

ron haskins & john podesta_ making work pay again this time for men (2013) - Google Search

Source:Brookings Institution– working in America.

“Congress is expected to take up comprehensive tax reform later this year or next year. As we prepare for a potentially bruising partisan battle, it is incumbent upon leadership of both parties to ensure that the tax code incentivizes work for American families, many of whom have seen their fortunes decline as wages for low-skill workers continue to stagnate. Strengthening the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which provides a wage supplement to many low-income workers, should be part of that agenda.

New York City’s Center for Economic Opportunity – Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s antipoverty shop – just announced an experiment to test whether a more generous EITC would make work pay for single adults. The Mayor’s plan to coax more single adults into the labor force by supplementing their earnings is a superb if all too rare example of what government can do to encourage personal responsibility while also strengthening local economies and striking a blow for economic opportunity. The Mayor’s newest experiment will test whether a more robust EITC will increase employment, financial support of children, and even marriage rates of men and thereby reduce child poverty.

The EITC is widely considered to be one of the most successful antipoverty programs, and has significantly increased employment and earnings for low-income families. The credit lifted 6.6 million people out of poverty in 2011 alone, and substantially increased employment among single mothers. Expansion of the EITC in the 1990s and since has served to make the earnings of low-wage work a much more attractive option than welfare for single mothers and their children.

But what about the men? The employment rate and wages of single males have fallen greatly over the past few decades. For example, in 2007 one in four workers earned less than $10 per hour, a wage that even for full-time workers would still leave many of them and their families poor or near poor. Skill-building and education can help many workers attain better paying jobs, but low-wage jobs will continue to make up a significant fraction of all employment. The federal EITC for single tax filers – including non-custodial parents – today offers a maximum of $475 for an entire year. At this low level, the credit has done little to drive gains in employment or earnings among single men.

Let’s take a page from Mayor Bloomberg’s playbook and test whether our tax code truly makes work pay. What would we propose? Federal funds should allow up to five states to experiment with a much more substantial noncustodial parent EITC and test its impact on employment, particularly among young men. Federal dollars would pay the benefit and also fund research on whether the EITC is increasing work rates and improving the financial status of these young men. In addition, research should examine whether increased work participation will have secondary effects such as reduced crime, increased payment of child support, and increased marriage rates.”

From Brookings

I completely agree with what Ron Haskins and John Podesta are saying here, but perhaps I would go further. The EITC (or Earned Income Tax Credit) is an excellent program to fight poverty in America. But we need to do a lot more to encourage work, education, opportunity, and economic independence, over Welfare. If you think income inequality in America is a problem, (or it even exists) then we need to encourage work, education, opportunity, and economic independence over Welfare.

The way to encourage work, education, opportunity, and economic independence over Welfare, is fairly simple, but a lot harder to make law. No one on Welfare, Unemployment, or even Disability, should be getting more money, that someone who works hard everyday and every week, just to put food on the table for themselves and their families, keep the lights on, pay the rent, etc. So we need a real living wage in America (whatever that number is) and that living wage needs to pay more than not working at all.

There also needs to be work and education requirements for everyone that is on any public assistance program, including Disability, whose not currently eligible to retire yet. And we need child care and perhaps even transportation assistance for single parents who are mostly mothers, who are going back to school and even work, because they’re now required too by law, but also because they want a better life for themselves and their kids.

Again, what I’m talking about here, is a lot easier to do, but a lot harder to make law. As long as the Democratic Party has a left-wing in it that doesn’t believe in work, education, opportunity, and economic independence, over Welfare and says that government should just give people bigger and more Welfare checks and we should discourage economic wealth and independence to fight what they call income inequality and a Republican Party with a Libertarian-Right that says government, or at least the Federal Government has no role here, the status quo when it comes to Welfare in America, will always exist.

About Erik Schneider

Full-time blogger on a multiple ray of topics and subjects, because of multiple interests.
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