Bad Economy Hits Poor, Seniors, and Children the Hardest

Government shouldn't leave the most vulnerable behind as it deals with the economy.


The Census Bureau released a report today that shows more than 49 million Americans are living in poverty; 49.1 million actually. That is 16 percent of all Americans.

Who are these people? The elitist on the right would have you believe they're hippies, homeless, druggies, and lazy, non-working Americans who you would find at an Occupy Wall Street protest in a city or town near you.

[See photos of the Occupy Wall Street protests]

But the raw data showing the breakdown of these people tells us otherwise.

In our society today, the number of those over 65 living in poverty is 12.7 percent higher. Seniors are doing worse than we thought.

And what do the Republicans want to do?

Give tax breaks to the rich and cut government programs to the poor and programs that provide health and financial benefits to … the elderly.

Is kicking people when they're down a family value? I must've missed that one in Sunday school.

Let's look at another thing this raw data provides us. The bureau's report is a new measure. And in the case of seniors, if out-of-pocket medical expenses had not been factored in, then 8.6 percent of seniors would be in poverty. Under the new measure, it's 15.9 percent.

What this demonstrates is the value of government programs keeping Americans out of poverty. And seniors aren't the only ones affected. Without the Earned Income Tax Credit, the child poverty rate would be 22 percent. Without food stamps, it would be 21 percent. With the programs? 18 percent.

[See how Romney and Perry would differ on the economy]

The numbers don't lie. We're in a tough economy and times are tougher on the poor, our children who are being raised in a poor family, and our elderly population.

Now is not the time to take a hachet to the very programs that sustain these people. Even with these programs, many of them are living within a poverty level; what happens if we take those programs away?

If the Bush Tax Cuts taught us anything, it's that giving a tax break to the rich didn't work: Lobs weren't created (at least not here in the United States), and the money that was added to these rich people's income was not put back into the American economy.

We need to do our homework. We need to learn from history. And we need to learn from other nations. China and India both respect their elderly; they believe you care for your children until they're adults and then those children care for you. Maybe if we did that more in America we wouldn't need the government to give a helping hand.

  • Read 10 Things You Didn't Know About the Bush Tax Cuts.
  • Debate Club: Is a flat tax a good idea?
  • Check out a roundup of editorial cartoons on the economy.