Her anti-poverty plan hits some important key points that her campaign has brought up before, such as child care, paid leave, equal pay, and the minimum wage. She also focuses on less commonly addressed issues, like increasing access to affordable housing and tackling persistent, rural poverty through the 10-20-30 plan, which would direct 10 percent of federal funding to communities where 20 percent of the population has been living in poverty for over 30 years. (As David Dayen notes, while the recent Census report shows an overall rise in median income of 5.2 percent, income actually fell for those living in rural America.)
However, when it comes to moving past work-based solutions to poverty, Clinton still lags behind. While it’s imperative to address the plight of the many Americans who work full-time and still live in poverty, much of our population, for various reasons, can’t or don’t work, either because they’re children, elderly, disabled, or involuntarily unemployed. By design, these are the people who are most likely to fall through our social safety net—since the 1996 welfare reform bill, anti-poverty policies have focused on work-based initiatives at the expense of the most vulnerable. And some of the ugliest legacies of that bill, such as family caps that deny additional benefits to mothers who give birth to children while on welfare, still remain in many states.
Clinton starts out her op-ed by saying, “The true measure of any society is how we take care of our children.” Having a comprehensive plan that addresses poverty is a huge step forward, and it is unquestionably better than anything Trump is likely to put out. But acknowledging problems from the past and rectifying them with big ideas—such as a universal child allowance or calling for a national target for cutting child poverty—is imperative for a country with one of the developed world’s highest child poverty rates.