Cory 2020
For Immediate Release:

October 3, 2019

Cory Booker Unveils Plan That Would Cut Child Poverty in America by Nearly Two-Thirds

Columbia University Analysis Finds that Cory’s Plan Would Lift at Least 7.3 Million Kids Out of Poverty

Plan Confronts Failed Policies of the Past and Charts Bold Path Forward

Ensures that Work Provides a Real Pathway out of Poverty

Modernizes and Strengthens the Federal Safety Net So Every Family Can Afford the Basics

Newark, NJ — Building on his plan to deliver opportunity and justice for all workers, today, Cory Booker is outlining his plan to cut child poverty by at least two-thirds and create opportunity for individuals and families trying to escape poverty. 

Issues of child poverty have been almost entirely absent from the campaign trail, despite the moral and economic imperative to act. There hasn’t been a presidential debate question on child poverty since 1999, and of the more than 170 plans released by Democratic presidential candidates over the course of the 2020 primary campaign, it is the first to lay out a comprehensive vision for strengthening the federal safety net and ending child poverty.

Cory’s plan starts with ensuring that all jobs in America are good jobs that provide workers with a living wage, meaningful benefits, and give workers a real voice to shape their working conditions. But it also helps those who are so often left behind; his plan makes sweeping reforms to strengthen the federal safety net so that it is there when families need it, helping cover the basics like food, housing, and diapers for young kids. Finally, it ensures that federal programs and services meet families where they are by breaking down barriers to access.

And according to new analysis by Sophie Collyer and Chris Wimer at Columbia University's Center on Poverty & Social Policy, Cory’s plan would cut child poverty in America by nearly two-thirds, lifting 7.3 million kids out of poverty. The analysis does not model certain elements like increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour, meaning the plan’s total impact is potentially much higher.

“When it comes to child poverty, we cannot be silent. In the richest country in the world, we have a moral responsibility to look after each other and make sure that every child living in America has the opportunity to grow and thrive,” said Cory Booker. “We all benefit when everyone has a stake in our economy. Building on the same American spirit that gave us Social Security, Medicare, nutrition assistance, and so much more, we must come together to ensure that every child has a fair shot to participate in and benefit from our collective promise. I know that we can do this, and as president, I will act.”

A recent report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine found that child poverty costs us as much $1 trillion each year — or 5.4 percent of GDP — driven by higher crime rates, worse health outcomes, and lower earnings among poor kids after becoming adults. Every dollar spent today combating child poverty saves us $7 down the road.

Addressing childhood poverty is personal to Cory. His dad was born poor in a small, segregated town in the mountains of North Carolina to a family that couldn’t care for him. It was a local family that took him in and put a roof over his head, and later, members of the community that helped pay tuition for his first semester of college.

They opened doors that he never even knew existed: he got a good job and worked hard, and moved his family from poverty to the middle class within the span of a single generation. Cory believes we must show that same generosity and path to opportunity to all children living in America.

As president, Cory will tackle child poverty in America by: 
  • Creating a “child allowance” for families with kids. Cory would fight to expand the Child Tax Credit to provide families with a $300 monthly allowance for younger kids and a $250 monthly allowance for older kids up to age 18. In addition, Cory would make the credit indexed to inflation and fully refundable, which would ensure that all eligible families can access the full credit, and would authorize the creation of an advance monthly payment program. 
  • Eliminating child hunger. While the Trump administration has repeatedly sought to cut benefits even further, Cory would increase the maximum SNAP benefit by 30 percent by adopting the more realistic “Low Cost Food Plan,” rescind Trump rules gutting “categorical eligibility” and stripping food from people who can’t find steady work, expand access to summer meals including in rural communities, and expand the Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer for Children to include all kids eligible for SNAP or free and reduced price school lunch. Cory would also relieve all school lunch debt and fight for universal free school lunch — because no child should go hungry at school.
  • Reforming the broken TANF program. Nationally, TANF helps fewer than one in four families living in poverty – compared to two in three in 1996. Many of the problems with our current system can be traced to changes that were enacted through misguided federal legislation in 1996. Cory would reform the TANF program by:
    • Restoring total TANF funding to its 1996 inflation-adjusted levels and ensure that it stays at that level in the future.
    • Requiring that states increase access to cash assistance so that no child lives in a household without income and with no way to meet basic needs.
    • Requiring that states target their TANF funds to children and families living in poverty.
    • Requiring that TANF funds provide opportunities for parents receiving TANF benefits to increase their education and skills so they can secure good jobs that pay a living wage. 
  • Ensuring that kids have access to safe, affordable housing. Cory has put forward a sweeping plan to help families afford housing, including a renters credit to cap rental costs at 30 percent of household income — which alone would lift 9.4 million Americans, including millions of children, out of poverty. His plan would also fully fund the Housing Trust Fund to build, rehabilitate, and operate rental housing for individuals earning less than the federal poverty level; implement protections against discrimination, like those that helped his family move into his childhood home; and take the steps necessary to end homelessness, including by creating a right to counsel for those who face eviction, in recognition that access to legal representation makes a world of difference for families at risk of losing their homes.
  • Implementing child support policies that work for real families. In order to help unify families, lift children in single-family homes out of poverty, improve child well-being, and strengthen the economic security of low-income children and their parents, Cory would support efforts to ensure that child support orders are realistic by basing them on actual earnings and by reducing orders during periods of incarceration. He would also encourage reforms so that full child support payments go to families, instead of rather than being diverted by states. Finally, he would reform enforcement practices that deprive low-income parents of their ability to secure jobs or build economic security, like suspending driver’s licenses in instances when the nonresident parent is low-income and has no credible means of payment.
  • Helping connect Americans with work. Cory would create a national transitional jobs program targeted to individuals living in poverty, including the long-term unemployed, noncustodial parents under a child support order, and individuals participating in SNAP or TANF, with wages subsidized on a sliding scale using public funding. Rigorous evaluations have shown that well-designed programs boost wages and employment, lower participation in public benefit programs, and improve short- and long-term outcomes for kids and families. 
  • Putting cash in the pockets of working families. Cory would sign into law his Rise Credit, which would represent the biggest expansion and reimagining of the popular Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) in history, providing up to $4,000 to working Americans making less than $90,000/year. It would also redefine what we mean as “work” to include low-income students and family caregivers — because traditional wage earners aren’t the only Americans who are working hard to support their families.
  • Making every job a job that can keep a family out of poverty. Last week, Cory released his plan to boost union membership and ensure that every job is a good job. Cory is an original cosponsor of the Raise the Wage Act, which would raise the minimum wage to $15/hour by 2024 and end the subminimum wage for tipped workers and workers with disabilities. Cory would also update the Trump administration’s overtime standard that has left out over eight million workers from our nation’s overtime protections. Finally, he would at long last close the gender pay gap — because everyone should be entitled to equal pay for equal work.
  • Supporting low-income working families through affordable child care. Building on the framework of the Child Care for Working Families Act, Cory would fight for legislation to make a sweeping federal investment in high quality child care to make it affordable for all working families. Cory knows that we also need to invest in our child care workers, who on average earn just $11 per hour. That’s why he will support increased funding to raise wages and improve benefits for these workers.
  • Giving a fair shot to kids with parents who are incarcerated. Cory would incentivize the elimination of excessive fines and fees in the criminal justice system, and end what the ACLU calls “modern-day debtors prisons,” which incarcerate individuals who cannot afford to pay fees for low-level offenses — destabilizing entire families and making it more difficult to maintain employment.
  • Ending “savings penalties” that prevent workers from getting ahead. Cory would significantly increase asset limits from TANF, SNAP, Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), and SSI. 
  • Modernizing government, supporting local service providers, and ensuring assistance programs meet families where they are. Cory would instruct federal agencies to adopt a “two-generation approach” to serving kids and the adults in their lives at the same time. He would provide grants and technical assistance to states and local service providers to update data systems, simplify and streamline application processes, and facilitate automatic eligibility determination and enrollment across multiple programs. Cory would also create a new metric to assess each state’s performance in enrolling children in the full package of benefits for which they are eligible, and hold states accountable for underperformance. Finally, Cory would address a less talked-about barrier to safety net enrollment — stigma — and would advance public education and streamlined service delivery mechanisms to ensure that everyone receives the help they need. 
  • Ensuring all kids can benefit from public services, regardless of their families’ immigration status. Cory would eliminate eligibility requirements based on immigration status for all safety net programs, as well as enrollment in health coverage and subsidies available under the Affordable Care Act, and would allow individuals with any valid Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) to access tax credits and refunds for which they are otherwise eligible. He would also rescind Trump’s racist and misguided “public charge rule” that targets immigrants for deportation if they use programs that reduce hunger, poverty, and sickness, forcing them to choose between basic needs and keeping their family together. 
From taking on slumlords as a tenant’s rights lawyer, to creating good jobs and economic opportunity for residents as mayor of Newark, to revamping a criminal justice system that, in the words of Bryan Stevenson, treats you better if you’re rich and guilty than if you’re poor and innocent, Cory has focused his entire career on addressing the causes and consequences of poverty.

Read Cory’s full plan here
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