— Democratic Sens. Tammy Baldwin of
Wisconsin and Cory Booker of New Jersey
introduced legislation Thursday to fight
poverty through transitional jobs and
expanded tax credits.
"The Stronger Way Act," the bill
would create a new transitional jobs grant
program at the Department of Labor, expand
Earned Income Tax Credits and make changes
to the Child Tax Credit.
idea is that if you are working full time
that you should not be in poverty in the
United States," Baldwin said.
backers of the bill hope that it will
overcome the partisan divide in Congress
by incentivizing work instead of adding
benefits for the unemployed.
not a penny of welfare in this. This is
all based on work," said David Riemer,
senior fellow at the Community Advocates
Public Policy Institute in Milwaukee.
"You don't get any of this money
unless you're a worker."
the lack of corresponding cuts for the
estimated $560 billion tax reduction over
10 years could be a sticking point for
some Republicans, who control both houses
of Congress. House Speaker Paul Ryan, a
Wisconsin Republican, has advocated
expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit but
has proposed paying for it by eliminating
pointed to tax cuts for the wealthy that
haven't been funded, and community
advocates said the changes would reduce
the financial burden on the welfare system
bill would increase the Earned Income Tax
Credit's rate of return for working
families with children, thereby allowing
lower-income families to get larger
would also expand that tax credit for
childless workers, a group the progressive
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
says is the lone group the federal
government taxes deeper into poverty. The
act would make more of them eligible for
Earned Income Tax Credits and increase the
amount they can receive, benefiting an
estimated 20 million childless workers.
bill would also adjust the Child Tax
Credit system to benefit the lowest income
families, allowing them to capture more of
the $1,000-per-child maximum refund.
are minimum wage workers right now that
are taxed into poverty. This will allow us
to reverse that," Baldwin said.
legislation would also create a grant
program for transitional jobs programs,
but Congress would have to pass additional
legislation to allocate funding to the
jobs are I think a key ingredient for any
broad anti-poverty strategy and one that
we have, at the moment, really failed to
put enough resources behind," said
Indivar Dutta-Gupta, director of the
Project on Deep Poverty and a senior
fellow at the Georgetown Center on Poverty
said states had to develop the programs
from scratch during the last recession.
When the next recession hits, he said, it
will benefit employers, workers and
taxpayers to have programs already in
place. Baldwin said there are at least 20
states, including Wisconsin, with
transitional jobs programs and bipartisan
found something that really works, that is
very, very effective," Baldwin said.
"We need to scale that up nationally
if we're going to make a true dent in
poverty that centers around the dignity of
said each of the components of the bill
have enjoyed bipartisan support at the
national level, so she hopes the combined
bill will garner similar support. A
spokeswoman for Sen. Ron Johnson, a
Wisconsin Republican, said he will review
Baldwin's proposals when they are