News Release


A professor at Georgetown Law Center who was assistant secretary of Health and Human Services in the Clinton administration, Edelman is a co-author of the new report “Battered by the Storm: How the Safety Net Is Failing Americans and How to Fix It” from the Institute for Policy Studies.

He also just wrote the Washington Post piece (with Barbara Ehrenreich) “Why Welfare Reform Fails its Recession Test,” which states: “When President Bill Clinton signed welfare reform into law, he didn’t just end welfare as we knew it. For all practical purposes, it turned out, he brought an end to cash help of any kind for families with children in much of the country. While welfare reform was long ago declared a success in some quarters, it was deeply flawed from the beginning. The recession has shown how seriously unprepared it left us for hard times.”

via Tamar Abrams
Cavanagh is director of the Institute for Policy Studies. Dolan is a fellow with the group. They said today following Obama’s speech at the Brookings Institution: “While we applaud President Obama’s attention to the jobs crisis and acknowledgment of public fear and anxiety around unemployment, we think his focus on accelerating job creation only in the private sector is wrong-headed. The use of TARP money to help community banks loan to local small businesses is a good idea. But further than that, we need Congress to approve the use of TARP funds to fund the creation of millions of new public sector jobs.”

Among the findings of IPS’s new report “Battered by the Storm: How the Safety Net Is Failing Americans and How to Fix It” are:

“Levels of long-term unemployment, underemployment and discouraged workers are reaching historic levels.

“The percentage of poor children receiving temporary assistance under TANF (the main federal ‘welfare’ program) has fallen from 62 percent in 1995 to 22 percent in 2008, and the benefits in 2008 averaged only 29 percent of the money needed to reach the official poverty line.

“Even while labor force participation of mothers has increased, the supply of affordable child care has lagged behind, creating a significant barrier to employment for many, especially single mothers.

“Roughly 57 percent of unemployed people are receiving unemployment compensation; for those receiving benefits, amounts are less than half of wages, and many are losing work-related health benefits.

“The social safety net, eroded over the past 30 years, has failed millions of Americans. And the short-term fixes, such as the Recovery Act, are rescuing only a small percentage of those who need help.”

The study’s authors recommend “an immediate, bold, comprehensive emergency relief package,” including:

“A $40 billion public jobs program to create one million new jobs.

“Some $270 billion to cover state and local deficits, which could sustain vital funding for critical safety net programs and could save the jobs of millions of workers.

“Just over $100 billion for the expansion of programs that provide income or income equivalents to help people weather the storm: Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, Unemployment Insurance, and Food Stamps; and new policies to address the housing foreclosure crisis.”

One author details how the $400 billion package “could be funded by tax shifts to close offshore tax havens, curbing speculative stock trades, and raising the top marginal rate to the levels that preceded the most recent Bush tax cuts.” The authors also recommend a “longer-term strategy to end the scourge of poverty in our nation and to help all people achieve a living income, without regard to race, religion or gender.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167