30 Issues: Holes in the Safety Net

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30 Issues in 30 Days is our election year series on the important issues facing the country this election year. Today: Where the government stands in its coverage of the neediest Americans. Visit the 30 Issue home page for all the conversations.

Open Prep: Questions, Articles, and Links to Get You Started

Key Questions

  • Where are the gaps in coverage for the very poor, and is there room in the budget to fix them?
  • How has the distribution in aid changed since 2008?
  • Would Romney end the safety net as we know it?
  • Did Obama really end the work requirement for welfare recipients?
  • Is too much aid going to wealthy recipients?

What are your key questions on this topic? Post them below and get the conversation going!


David Jones, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Community Service Society of New York, gives his perspective on what the federal government can do to help the very poor, and where both candidates stand.

Ron Haskins, former White House and congressional advisor on welfare issues, co-director of the Brookings Center on Children and Families and Budgeting for National Priorities, and author of Work over Welfare: The Inside Story of the 1996 Welfare Reform Law, gives his take on the history of the social net, who it protects and what it ideally should be.

Got a Follow Up?

Each Friday we'll be following up on one of that week's issues. Got a particular follow-up question from this conversation? Comment below or tweet us.