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More Black children in extreme poverty

By Nicole Colson | May 9, 2003 | Page 2

THE BUSH administration claims that it will "leave no child behind." But according to a new study, more and more Black children are being left behind--in dismal, crushing poverty.

According to a new study by the Children's Defense Fund (CDF), the number of African Americans under 18 years old who live in extreme poverty has risen sharply since 2000--and is now at its highest since the government began collecting figures in 1980.

The study found that in 2001 (the last year that figures are available), nearly 1 million Black children were living in families with after-tax incomes that were less than half the federal poverty line. That means that almost 1 million Black kids were living in families of three or more making just $7,060 a year. That's up from 686,000 children the year before.

According to the CDF, blame for the huge increase in severe poverty rests with welfare "reform" legislation implemented during the Clinton years, which cut off government benefits to many of the poorest families in the country. And when the recession hit, things only got worse for the poorest of the poor.

According to the CDF, although overall poverty figures for Black children improved somewhat, the "analysis further shows that safety nets for the worst-off families are being eroded by Bush administration policies that cause fewer extremely poor children of all races to receive cash and in-kind assistance."

"The study shows that in the first recession since the welfare law took effect, Black children who have the fewest protections are falling into extreme poverty in record numbers," Deborah Weinstein, who oversaw the study, told the New York Times. "So as we consider our federal policies, are we going to help children who need help the most, or rich people who don't need help at all?"

The answer from the Bush administration isn't surprising. The White House wants to help people who don't need help at all--with a new tax cut plan that will put hundreds of billions of dollars into the pockets of the very richest Americans--while programs for food stamps, child care subsidies and education are cut to the bone.

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