If EITC was Good Enough for Four Decades of Presidents…Why is Pennsylvania Cutting it Now?

From the Campaign for What Works (http://whycutwhatworks.myfastsite.net/):

Ronald Reagan once called the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), “the best anti-poverty, the best pro-family, the best job-creation measure ever to come out of Congress.”  Bill Clinton believed in the program so much that he worked extensively to expand it soon after entering office in 1993. Not to mention President Nixon, who started the program in 1975, and President Ford, who championed the program with continued support from both George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.

So, if the program has earned such extensive support from our nation’s leaders, on both sides of the aisle, for so long, then why are Pennsylvania Secretary of Public Welfare Gary Alexander and DPW eliminating the program to help low-income working people get federal tax credits that help keep them out of poverty?

The program currently provides tax credits to 27 million working families with children who make less than $49,000 annually, providing an average return of $2,770. This program helps working families climb out of poverty and helps boost local economies, according to a joint Harvard University and University of Illinois study that appeared in the February 2012 edition of Social Service Review.  According to the study, 5.4 million people were lifted out of poverty in 2010 because of the EITC.

So what, exactly, is Pennsylvania cutting?  DPW announced the elimination of $500,000 for a program that helps recruit, train, and provide volunteer tax return preparers to work with low-income families to file their income taxes and access the EITC. This kind of cut isn’t even “penny-wise” (though it is most certainly still “pound foolish”). More Pennsylvanians receiving the EITC means more money being spent in Pennsylvania – blocking access to the program hurts Pennsylvanians in the short-term and long-term.

Carol Goetzel, CEO of Pathways PA – a nonprofit in Delaware County that serves women and children and administers the program to help families get the EITC – said about DPW’s decision, “I think the cuts are part of a general perspective of not really looking at what lower-income people really need. They’re the silent minority who don’t seem to matter.  They’re not the ones who’ll scream to the Governor or march in protest anywhere.”

The Campaign for What Works supports programs that work, programs that save taxpayers money while helping working families get out of poverty with strong bipartisan support. Providing access to the Earned Income Tax Credit is exactly the kind of program we’re talking about – and exactly the kind of program we should not be eliminating.

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