2017 Clearinghouse Rev. 1 (2017)

handle is hein.journals/clear51 and id is 1 raw text is: 































   A     s one presidential administration
         ends and another begins, the
         United States finds itself at a
historic crossroads. Leaving the White
House  is the first and only African Amer-
ican president of the United States-1 of
45 presidents in a 238-year period that
covered legal slavery, the Civil War, Re-
construction, Jim Crow, and the civil rights
movement.  Pres. Barack Obama  was also
the first Democratic president since Pres.
Bill Clinton signed off on welfare reform
in 1996. The historical significance of the
Obama  presidency is difficult to dispute.

Pres. Donald Trump comes  into office hav-
ing made some  history of his own, mostly
for his unconventional campaign and the
racially charged rhetoric that he used
throughout. Given that he has no track
record in government and that his cabinet
nominees  thus far have been openly hostile
to the supports-affordable health care,
a living wage, robust enforcement of civil
rights-that low-income people need most
to move out of poverty, our expectations
for the federal government under the
new administration are at best uncertain.
President Trump's job is to lead not some,
but all people living in our country, and we
and our colleagues at the Sargent Shriver
National Center on Poverty Law intend to


make  sure that everyone's voice is heard
on important issues affecting them and
their communities, especially those who
have historically had difficulty being heard.

Poverty persists, and our country, espe-
cially our country's leadership, must face
this challenge. Although 2015 saw a dip
in poverty numbers, the fact remains


with a racial justice lens, especially in light
of an incoming administration that has
expressed hostility to this type of focus.

To take stock of the current presidential
transition, we first consider the roles that
the executive branch, the states, and
civil legal aid attorneys have in improving
the quality of life and opportunities


Poverty persists, and our country, especially our country's
leadership, must face this challenge.


that more than 43 million people in this
country live in poverty.' Native Americans
and African Americans are nearly three
times as likely as whites to be included in
this population; Latinos, twice as likely.2
What  is more, 6.1 percent of Americans
live in deep poverty, which is income at
half the federal poverty level, a meager
$12,150 for a family of four.3 Given the
impact that poverty has on communities
of color, we must consider policy solutions


1  Dan Lesser, Good News. Bad News on Poverty in the
United States, SHRVER BR IEF (Sept. 13, 2016); Press Release,
U.S. Census Bureau, Income Povert and Health Insurance
Coverage in the United States: 2015 (Sept. 13, 2016).
2 Talk Poverty, Basic Statistics (2016).
3  Id.; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services'
U.S. Federal Povert Guidelines Used to Determine Financial
Eli gibilit for Certain Federal Programs (Jan. 25, 2016).


of low-income people. After reviewing
President Obama's progress on poverty
and civil rights over the last eight years, we
offer recommendations for action by the
executive branch, the states, and legal aid
during the next presidential administration.


The  Roles  of the Executive,  the
States, and  Legal  Aid
The executive branch plays an extraordi-
narily important role in fighting poverty in
America, particularly given the discretion
it enjoys in enforcing federal law. Civil
rights laws are a bulwark against invidious
discrimination but only if those laws are
consistently and widely enforced. An
important moral test of a presidential


JANUARY 2017CLEARINGHOUSE ARTICLE I


CLEARINGHOUSE ARTICLE  I


JANUARY 2017

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