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Blog: Congress, Consider Your Priorities

Jun 22, 2010 | By Marge Clark, BVM

Members of Congress, particularly the Senate these days, express dire threats about the deficit. Many are intent on shredding the social safety net at every opportunity while limiting job growth assistance and contributing to loss of public sector jobs – to prevent adding to the dreaded monetary deficit.  However, these same members of Congress seek ways to protect persons with the greatest wealth from carrying the “burden” of taxation – or contributing to the Common Good.  As they fret about extending tax relief for middle- and lower-income households through extension of improvements to the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to benefit our future generations, they insist on limiting the contributions to federal revenue (taxes) by those whose income is gained by moving other people’s money (carried interest).

I remind our legislators that there is also “human deficit” which has long term impacts not only on the individual, but on society. 

“Poverty can impede children’s ability to learn and contribute to social, emotional, and behavioral problems. Poverty also can contribute to poor health and mental health. Risks are greatest for children who experience poverty when they are young and/or experience deep and persistent poverty.” -Columbia University, National Center for Children in Poverty

“But there is also an economic case for reducing child poverty. When children grow up in poverty, they are somewhat more likely than non-poor children to have low earnings as adults, which in turn reflects lower workforce productivity. They are also somewhat more likely to engage in crime (though that’s not the case for the vast majority) and to have poor health later in life. Their reduced productive activity generates a direct loss of goods and services to the U.S. economy.” - Harry Holzer, Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach Greg J. Duncan, and Jens Ludwig. 1/2007. “The Economic Costs of Poverty: Subsequent Effects of Children Growing Up Poor.”

Senators and Representatives:  May your decisions be guided by real long-term economic wisdom as well as by compassion.