Statement from Dr. Maya Rockeymoore, President and CEO of Center for Global Policy Solutions, on U.S. Census Bureau 2015 Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage and Supplemental Poverty Measure

Washington, D.C., September 13, 2016—The Census data released this week are the latest reminder that communities of color are still disproportionately affected by poverty.

Especially alarming are the child poverty rates—Black: 33.6 percent; Hispanic: 28.9 percent; Asian: 12.6 percent; White: 12.1 percent—and the realization that they’re likely to increase if America fails to adopt an inclusive poverty agenda that specifically considers those who have been excluded historically, while ensuring a basic level of economic security for everyone.

An inclusive policy agenda would expand and create programs that help families most affected by economic discrimination, drawing on data to guide effective, evidence-based policy. Critically, it would also recognize the need to strengthen Social Security as one of our nation’s most effective anti-poverty programs, especially for children, with special significance for children of color.

Social Security benefits nearly 6.4 million children, which is double the figure commonly cited. And, the number of Hispanic kids and kids of other ethnicities who receive Social Security is skyrocketing faster than for either black or white kids.

Recognizing its structure, which can easily incorporate all children, and its role in preventing child poverty, Social Security should be expanded to:

  • Include a minimum child benefit to provide a minimum level of economic security for kids living in poor households;
  • Integrate a universal “baby bond” trust program that could provide every kid with a financial asset that grows over time—to be used for wealth-building purposes such as buying a home, financing higher education, or starting a business;

Instead of hurting millions of poor kids (and their families) by slashing Social Security, Congress should remove the limit on taxable wages so that all earners pay their fair share toward this critically important anti-poverty resource.

Reducing the inequalities represented in this year’s poverty data will require a concerted effort over the long term—an Inclusion Revolution led by policymakers, businesspeople, activists and advocates with the guts to join one.

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Maya Rockeymoore is the President and CEO of Global Policy Solutions and the Center for Global Policy Solutions (GPS), the Washington, D.C.-based consultancy and nonprofit that she founded on the principle that a more inclusive society is a stronger, more prosperous one.