Doing to American health care what he’s already done to American prosperity:
An alternative way of measuring poverty shows that nearly 2.8 million more people are struggling across the country than officially calculated, the U.S. Census Bureau reports – and California has by far the biggest share of people in poverty, eclipsing states such as Mississippi and Louisiana.
The alternative yardstick, known as the supplemental poverty measure, is different from the official poverty rate in a few key ways: It takes tax credits and other government benefits into account. It also counts necessary expenses such as child care and out-of-pocket medical costs.
In addition, it considers the different costs of housing from state to state. That makes a big difference in California, where the broader measure counts more than 8.9 million people living in poverty between 2010 and 2012 — far higher than the 6.2 million tallied the official way.
The alternative measure found that 16% of Americans, nearly 50 million, are living in poverty, versus the 15.1%, or roughly 47 million officially counted.
Here, BTL is torn. His first instinct is to tease Obama and the Democrats (especially California Democrats) for their historic levels of poverty despite years in office. (Fox Butterfield, is that you?)
But his second instinct is to observe that this ain’t your granpappy’s poverty:
According to data contained in Census Bureau charts “Extended Measures of Well-being: Living Conditions in the United States, 2011” in 2011, 80.9 percent of households below the poverty line own a cell phone and 54.9 percent own a landline phone.
More than 96 percent of households below the poverty line owned a television and 83.2 percent owned a videocassette recorder (VCR).
Air conditioning cooled 83.4 percent of households with incomes below the poverty line and microwaves and stoves heated the food of 93.2 percent and 96.2 percent respectively.
Nearly 98 percent of such households owned a refrigerator, but just 26.2 percent owned a food freezer and 44.9 percent owned a dishwasher.
Additionally, 68.7 percent of households in poverty owned a clothes washer and 65.3 owned clothes dryer.
Those poor people—having to own a VCR! Consigned forever to watch reruns of “Who’s the Boss?”
Now, I won’t say that the lifestyle of welfare recipients could be confused with that of Bill Gates or George Soros. But they do sound better off—way better off—than many recent college graduates.
Does it sound right to you that almost one in every six Americans lives in poverty? It does not to me. Either I’m wrong, or the definition of poverty is wrong.
The Massachusetts House today will take up a welfare reform bill that, at long last, may actually constitute real reform.
The bill, House 3737, follows the contours of a Senate measure that won passage earlier this year, and requires most recipients to at least look for work, while also implementing several anti-fraud measures, including photo identification on benefit cards, requiring Social Security numbers, and calling for state workers to check on the status of accounts with high balances, those with undeliverable addresses, and those that have not been accessed for a long period of time.
At the heart of the legislation is the creation of a “pathways to self-sufficiency program” which will be mandatory for all able-bodied welfare recipients age 18 and older who are not in school full-time or already participating in an education or training activity.
[T]he bill would require case reviews for those with benefit balances of $1,500 or more, and allow the state to recoup balances in excess of $2,500.
The emergence of substantive legislation on welfare reform follows abundant evidence that Massachusetts’ system is riddled with deficiencies that have cost taxpayers millions of dollars in fraud.
You could call them on their cell phones to make your enquiries; and if their washing machines or microwaves are too loud, you could email their computers.