Fast Focus Research/Policy Brief Icon

President Obama and antipoverty policy: What does the stimulus bill do to fight poverty, educate citizens, and improve public health?

IRP Director Timothy Smeeding moderated a panel discussion about the economic stimulus bill on which this issue of Fast Focus is based. Daniel R. Meyer, Professor of Social Work and IRP Affiliate, commented on the bill’s cash and noncash transfer programs, indicating that the stimulus bill represents both a continuation of thirty-year trends in policies affecting low-income families (such as providing work supports over aid to nonworkers) and some nontrivial increases in existing benefit-program outlays. Sara Goldrick-Rab, Assistant Professor of Education Policy Studies and Sociology, Scholar at the Wisconsin Center for Advancement of Postsecondary Education, and IRP Affiliate, spoke about aid to education in the bill, lauding the administration’s new emphasis on higher education as essential to escaping poverty, but also noting that more than half of the $100 billion earmarked for new education funding will go to keeping schools open. Pamela Herd, Assistant Professor of Public Affairs and Sociology and IRP Affiliate, talked about health and health care support, noting that about one-fifth of the stimulus is for broadly construed health and health care, about half of which is to keep the public health insurance system going, mainly through increased Medicaid funding. Herd noted that the broader context of President Obama’s health care plan is two-fold: expand coverage and control costs. Andrew Reschovsky, Professor of Public Affairs and Applied Economics, IRP Affiliate, and Affiliate of the Wisconsin Center for Advancement of Postsecondary Education, presented a synopsis of how the federal stimulus bill influenced the State of Wisconsin’s education budget, noting that federal stimulus funds will support poverty-related programs and special education, and that this budget has no increase in equalization aid, unlike in past years.


Economic Support, Education & Training, Employment, Health, Health Care, Unemployment/Nonemployment