DMI Blog

Maureen Lane

“Last year’s welfare revamping should be listed under ‘counterproductive’ in the dictionary.” I couldn’t agree more…

The Drum Major Institute's Year in Review report sites last year's welfare revamping by HHS (the Department of Health and Human Services) as an example of the worst policy of 2006. I agree wholeheartedly that hamstringing poor families' ability to get the education and skills they want and need for good jobs "should be listed under 'counterproductive' in the dictionary."

The report also lists some troubling facts in the injustice index. For example, 57% of the decline in the welfare caseload is due to inefficiency of the program to cover people that need the help not a sudden surge in people who have attain economic security and are thus ineligible. Simply put: public assistance is just not reaching many of the families who qualify and need assistance.

WRI students and other advocates are hopeful that policies will respond to the growing, not decreasing, need for family income supports. We look to legislators to be visionary in their recommendations and we see that we, the people, all of us have an opportunity and self interest to be involved in making good government, as well as good economic and civic environments.

In the past, middle class voters have endorsed the Bush tax cuts. Yet, in the last five years the middle class has not seen the benefit of the cuts.

Astonishingly, the percentage of GDP that went to wages and salaries in the first half of 2006 was 51.18%, a drop of 1.5% points from the 1990's (each percentage point represents 117 billion dollars) - which translates into a loss of wages of about 175.5 billion dollars. And the losses have not come out of the CEOs' pockets. DMI notes that the ratio of CEO annual pay to a year's worth of minimum wage is 821:1.

DMI blog, DMI fellows, WRI and the other grassroots and organizations that are working to bring information and dialogue to our collective public life can and do add value to the policy discussions. The more we know about ourselves and each other, the more we can measure good policy that is in our own best interest. The questions we ask ourselves need to include how a certain policy will help people develop and sustain the systems they need to thrive and grow.

Maureen Lane: Author Bio | Other Posts
Posted at 6:49 AM, Jan 04, 2007 in Economic Opportunity | Education | Welfare
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