This Great Graphic comes from the David Cooper at Economic Policy Institute. It depicts the number of people that are in poverty according to the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) of the US Census Department and shows the number of people that would become impoverished if a specific program were to be eliminated.
Another way of saying the same thing is that part of the bar in red shows the number of people that have been lifted out of poverty by the specific assistance program. The SPM data suggests that some 47 mln people are lifted out of poverty by these programs or would return to poverty if these programs were dismantled.
This may overstate the case somewhat, as some people may participate in more than one program. Nevertheless, it seems fair to say that these programs have lifted millions of people out of poverty. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps) have already been cut and will be cut further in the new year, barring some new sequester compromise.
The same is true for some jobless benefits. In fact, in the perverse nature of government statistics, the loss of these jobless benefits may see some people leave the labor market and spur a further decline in the unemployment rate. Note that even Social Security which does the most to reduce poverty is likely to be subject to modification that will link pay-out growth to a different calculation of inflation. This will have the effect of slowing the growth rate. What’s more is that there seems to be a bipartisan consensus to do this.
This piece is cross-posted from Marc to Market with permission.