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Californians should stop blaming ourselves for our own poverty

This SF Chronicle editorial reports on a recent Census Bureau study on poverty, but other than a jab at the Trump regime’s attempts to kill social programs. fails to identify any direction to relieve Californian poverty. Their argument seems to be that California has no choice but continue propping up federal anti-poverty programs that don’t fairly address poverty here, and, never mind about that, let’s instead blame ourselves for the high price of housing in our densely populated state.

Federal spending formulas intentionally use an unrealistic measure of the poverty line in California. The supplemental—real—poverty rate is used only for tracking, not for allocating funds. Nearly all federal anti-poverty spending formulas are based on national poverty-line levels: SNAP, (food stamps), TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), ACA Subsidies, and Medicaid matching funds,. This is yet one more way that the federal government extracts taxes from California and returns a lesser portion. In addition, about 5% of Californians (and a much greater proportion of poor Californians) are undocumented, and thus ineligible for federal aid, even though federal taxes are deducted from their paychecks.

The present regime’s agenda to starve Social Security and kill the Affordable Care Act would greatly increase poverty everywhere. But the federal government’s inability to fairly address real poverty in California goes decades back; we shouldn’t imagine that removing Trump alone will solve the problem.

In an independent California, with access to the taxes now sent to Washington:

  • Universal healthcare coverage would be a priority. At present, CA can’t even combine the various streams of our tax money returned for healthcare to develop a comprehensive program.
  • California could and would maintain Social Security coverage.
  • The housing problem could be attacked much more effectively as a state program without HUD’s restriction and underfunding.

Why are we hanging around in the US?

—Neil Longhurst, CFO, Independent California

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