Mark Greenberg

Mark Greenberg is the director of the Task Force on Poverty at the Center for American Progress. He is on leave from the Center for Law and Policy, where he is the Director of Policy.

Recent Articles

Making Poverty History

We might not expect TV's American Idol to be out in front of most presidential candidates on issues of national importance, but that's what happened this spring. AI 's producers announced that they would dedicate two evenings to raising funds and awareness for children and young people in poverty, in both America and Africa. The show's commitment stands in contrast to most of the 2008 candidates. What does American Idol know that they don't? American Idol isn't alone. In the last two years, there has been a surge of interest in ending poverty in America. In the faith community, Sojourners and Call to Renewal announced a Covenant for a New America and urged others to help them cut child poverty by half in 10 years. Catholic Charities USA created a Campaign to Reduce Poverty in America. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg created an Economic Opportunity Commission and charged it with proposing ways to promote opportunity and reduce poverty in the city, and he has begun implementing...

Welfare Reform, Phase Two

In 1996, welfare reform was rarely far from the headlines. across the country, states were overhauling their cash assistance programs for poor families. That summer, Congress passed and President Clinton signed a deeply controversial revamping of the federal-state system. The new law ended public assistance as a federal entitlement, in favor of a complex system of state block grants with work requirements and time limits. Thanks to a fortuitous rendezvous with a full-employment economy, a great many people who had been receiving welfare found jobs. Many, but certainly not all, improved their livelihoods. As long as welfare caseloads were declining, states enjoyed a surplus of welfare funds and thus an expanding pool of resources to redirect to other benefits and services for low-income families. Eight years later, the picture could hardly be more different. Caseloads are no longer falling in most of the country, and funding remains flat at 1996 levels. It seems virtually inevitable...

Bush's Blunder

I n the last three months, the welfare-reform debate has been transformed in ways few people envisioned even recently. The change hasn't been for the better. Early this year, many people believed that reauthorization of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 provided an opportunity to help low-income working families and the hardest-to-employ, and to reduce poverty. Instead, the debate is now mired in the bumper-sticker disputes of the early 1990s about who can appear tougher in requiring more welfare recipients to work more hours more quickly. It has been a depressing turn of events, but it isn't too late to turn things around. There is still time and opportunity for a serious affirmative agenda that both promotes work and reduces poverty. But if there's going to be progress this year, it's important to look at where the debate ought to be, how it got derailed, and what can be done to get it back on track. Some quick background: The 1996 welfare...