Your Feb. 20 editorial points out the rising number of people living in poverty in Washington state – half of these are children, elderly or disabled. Your editorial on Feb. 24 reminds us that the number of elderly living in poverty is increasing and will continue to increase as the number of baby boomers turn 65. Poverty is clearly a problem in this country, one of the wealthiest nations in the world.
I heartily support the recommended task force (House Bill 2113) to study anti-poverty strategies in our state. But a task force can only do so much. We already know that the federal programs, Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit, are financial life lines that lift millions of people out of poverty. These programs help the working poor – those often working two or three jobs at minimum wage, still making less than $13,000 annually. These programs were part of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (the “fiscal cliff” deal) and are scheduled to expire in 2017.
Some in Congress are already lining up to slash these credits. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 216,000 Washington citizens will fall into or deeper into poverty if Congress fails to make key provisions permanent. Let us stay vigilant in supporting and improving on these established programs that provide tax credits where they are so desperately needed. A tax credit is money in hand.