Why a helping hand from the government helps our economy

January 5, 2014

If we didn’t have government programs aimed to help reduce poverty by providing assistance to low-income Americans, the actual poverty rate in the United States would be nearly twice as high as it is today.

It’s inexcusable that the rate is currently at 15 percent. This is a generational high has a lot to do with Republicans in Congress, and in states like Maine, who have extreme Republican governors, who have cut back on these economically beneficial programs. Yes economically beneficial. It is far better to lend a helping hand to those in need than to let them become homeless and ill.

The vast majority of those who accept assistance from state and/or federal programs are people who had a bad turn in life and just need society believing in and supporting them temporarily. They don’t want to have to live off the State; they are forced to because they need the essentials. Franklin D. Roosevelt, with the aid of Frances Perkins, understood this, and his New Deal became a beacon of hope for millions in this country. Social Security is a part of our national security.

Insurance rates skyrocket when consumers have to take up the slack of people who can’t afford to see a doctor and use the emergency room instead. Every first-world country has a free health-care system. Getting the Affordable Care Act passed was a milestone of President Obama.

The impact that an uncaring society has on the economy is hard to calculate, but it certainly damages our image not to mention the soul of our country to stand by and do nothing to help.

Without programs like Social Security, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and low-income tax credits, the poverty rate would rise to nearly 30 percent.

According to the Census data, Social Security reduces the poverty rate by 8.5 percentage points. Low-income tax credits take off another 3 points from the rate; SNAP, or food stamps, cuts another 1.6 points. Other programs, including unemployment insurance, housing subsidies, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANIF), and the WIC program, cut anywhere from 0.1 to 0.9 points off from the poverty rate.

So why does Governor LePage want to cut TANIF? It’s a lifeline for families in need. The people of Maine help others when they are in need. Maine’s community support is renowned.

While Congress gets back to work, they need to keep these statistics in mind. In Maine, Governor LePage should stop hurting those who need help the most and also accept funds from the Affordable Care Act that would benefit over 70,000 Mainers including 3,000 veterans.