John Kerry on Welfare & Poverty

Jr Senator (MA), Democratic nominee for President


My faith is why I fight poverty and protect the earth

In the final 2004 Bush-Kerry debate, both candidates spoke at length about the role of religion in their lives.

Bush was consistent in his belief, as he said, that "prayer and religion sustain me." But Kerry changed his tune depending on the policy in question. On the issue of abortion, Kerry insisted, "I can't legislate or transfer to another American citizen my article of faith. What is an article of faith for me is not something that I can legislate on somebody who doesn't share that article of faith."

Fair enough. But then the topic shifted to government Programs for the poor and the environment, and Kerry changed his tune. His faith, he said, was "why I fight against poverty. That's why I fight to clean up the environment and protect this earth. That's why I fight for equality and justice. All of those things come out of that fundamental teaching and belief of faith." This kind of hypocrisy when it comes to religion is widespread on the left, inside and outside Washington.

Source: America by Heart, by Sarah Palin, p.216-217 , Nov 23, 2010

Itís long overdue time to raise the minimum wage

Q: The minimum wage has been stuck at $5.15 an hour now for about seven years. Is it time to raise it?

A: Itís long overdue time to raise the minimum wage. We have fought to raise the minimum wage in the last years. But the Republican leadership wonít even let us have a vote on it. They donít want to raise the minimum wage. The minimum wage is the lowest minimum wage value itís been in our nation in 50 years. If we raise the minimum wage, which I will do over several years to $7 an hour, 9.2 million women trying to raise their families would earn another $3,800 a year. Bush has denied 9.2 million women $3,800 a year, but he doesnít hesitate to fight for $136,000 to a millionaire. 1 percent of America got $89 billion last year in a tax cut, but people working hard, playing by the rules, trying to take care of their kids, family values, that weíre supposed to value so much in America. Iím tired of politicians who talk about family values and donít value families.

Source: Third Bush-Kerry debate, in Tempe AZ , Oct 13, 2004

Raise the minimum wage and training fund to help the poor

We will raise the minimum wage to $7.00 an hour by 2007. At this minimum wage a family of four with a full-time worker would no longer be forced to raise their children in poverty, increase tax credits for child care, an essential ingredient in ensuring the continued success of work-based welfare reform; defend and strengthen the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), increasing the reward to work for the most hard-pressed families and lifting millions out of poverty; invest in programs like Youthbuild that educate and prepare disadvantaged young people for jobs; encourage more women and minorities to pursue degrees in math and science, which lead to high paying jobs; invest in lifelong learning so that workers of all skill levels can access education and training to move up to better, higher paying jobs; and encourage entrepreneurship in all our communities through initiatives like the New Markets venture capital initiative.
Source: Our Plan For America, p. 22 , Aug 10, 2004

Third World poverty worse than rural American poverty

At Yale, Kerry had read Michael Harrington's wrenching study "The Other America" and came away stunned by the statistics Harrington presented about poverty in rural Appalachia. But nothing could have prepared him for the utter squalor of the Philippines. In one letter home Kerry detailed some of his bleaker encounters with Third World poverty:

"Here, lined up and down the sidewalk in small little business ventures were old ladies selling cigarettes and more children trying to peddle wares. Where the children weren't selling something, they were curled up on a piece of sackcloth, trying to sleep amidst the noises of the entertainment. More than anything I think this sight of children out so late and in such condition haunted me. I couldn't stop thinking.how it must affect them in terms of what they will...think about the world when they have a chance to express themselves."

Source: Tour of Duty, by Douglas Brinkley, p. 89 , Jan 6, 2004

Desperate need to build more affordable housing

Q: How would you address the nationís affordable housing crisis?

A: I helped form the housing trust fund, which provides lending for low to middle income housing. We desperately need to build more housing in this country. More working families in this country are homeless than every before -- its unacceptable and we must provide incentives for low to middle income families that need our help.

Source: Concord Monitor / WashingtonPost.com on-line Q&A , Nov 7, 2003

Ok for government to partner with non-profits & for-profits

It bothers me that some Democrats have resisted the idea of making educational outcomes-the skills and knowledge our kids obtain from the educational system-as important as educational inputs-the adequate funding, the good facilities, and the higher teacher pay we all want.

In every area of government, we should demand demonstrable results, because we claim that the public sector can get results. But we should never confuse government as an organizer of public resources with government as an owner-operator of public enterprises. Some areas, like public schools and the police, are properly the province of the public sector. We canít strengthen education by weakening public education. But there are countless areas- child care, after-school programs, environmental protection-where government can and should work through community organizations, nonprofit, and even for-profit private enterprises or public-private partnerships.

Source: A Call to Service, by John Kerry, p. 27-28 , Oct 1, 2003

Expand EITC as anti-poverty measure

The earned income tax credit (EITC), which reward working families for staying off welfare, also needs a boost. President Reagan rightly called the EITC the ďbest antipoverty, the best pro-family, the best job creation measure to come out of Congress.Ē President Clinton rightly said no family in which parents work full time should have to live in poverty.

The congressional Republicans and some in the Bush administration are waging war to discourage poor working families from receiving the EITC with the claim that they are fighting fraud. Just last year the IRS announced plan to make millions of EITC recipients pre-qualify for their benefit through separate procedure before claiming the credit on their tax forms. An administration that purports to compassionate toward the poor and passionate about lowering taxes and reducing bureaucracy is apparently trying to intimidate working families out of benefiting from tax credits by imposing new layer of bureaucracy.

Source: A Call to Service, by John Kerry, p. 76-7 , Oct 1, 2003

Voted YES on instituting National Service as a new social invention.

Congressional Summary:Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education (GIVE) Act:
    Adds to National and Community Service Act of 1990 (NCSA) purposes:
  1. providing year-round opportunities in service-learning;
  2. involving program participants in emergency and disaster preparedness, relief, and recovery;
  3. increasing service opportunities for retiring professionals;
  4. encouraging service by individuals age 55 or older and continued service by national service alumni;
  5. focusing national service on the areas of national need.

Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Sen. BARBARA MIKULSKI (D, MD): [In developing national service over many years] we were not in the business of creating another new social program. What we were in the business of was creating a new social invention. What do I mean by that? In our country, we are known for our technological inventions. But also often overlooked, and sometimes undervalued, is our social inventions.

We created national service to let young people find opportunity to be of service and also to make an important contribution. But not all was rosy. In 2003, when I was the ranking member on the appropriations subcommittee funding national service, they created a debacle. One of their most colossal errors was that they enrolled over 20,000 volunteers and could not afford to pay for it. That is how sloppy they were in their accounting. I called them the "Enron of nonprofits."

And they worked on it. But all that is history. We are going to expand AmeriCorps activity into specialized corps. One, an education corps; another, a health futures corps; another, a veterans corps; and another called opportunity corps. These are not outside of AmeriCorps. They will be subsets because we find this is where compelling human need is and at the same time offers great opportunity for volunteers to do it.

Opponent's argument to vote No:No senators spoke against the amendment.

Reference: Serve America Act/GIVE Act; Bill H.R. 1388 ; vote number 2009-S115 on Mar 26, 2009

Voted YES on welfare block grants.

Replacement of federal welfare guarantee with block grants to the states.
Status: Conf Rpt Agreed to Y)78; N)21; NV)1
Reference: Conference Report on H.R. 3734; Bill H.R. 3734 ; vote number 1996-262 on Aug 1, 1996

Voted YES on eliminating block grants for food stamps.

Vote to not allow states the option of getting food stamp funds as a block grant administered by the state, rather than as a federal program, if they meet certain criteria.
Reference: Bill S 1956 ; vote number 1996-218 on Jul 23, 1996

Voted NO on allowing state welfare waivers.

Vote on a procedural motion to allow consideration of an amendment to express the Sense of Congress that the president should approve the waivers requested by states that want to implement welfare reform.
Reference: Bill S.1956 ; vote number 1996-208 on Jul 19, 1996

Voted YES on welfare overhaul.

Approval of an overhaul on the federal welfare system.
Status: Bill Passed Y)87; N)12; NV)1
Reference: Contract w/ America (Welfare Refm); Bill H.R. 4 ; vote number 1995-443 on Sep 19, 1995

Finish welfare reform by moving able recipients into jobs.

Kerry signed the manifesto, "A New Agenda for the New Decade":

Help Working Families Lift Themselves from Poverty
In the 1990s, Americans resolved to end welfare dependency and forge a new social compact on the basis of work and reciprocal responsibility. The results so far are encouraging: The welfare rolls have been cut by more than half since 1992 without the social calamities predicted by defenders of the old welfare entitlement. People are more likely than ever to leave welfare for work, and even those still on welfare are four times more likely to be working. But the job of welfare reform will not be done until we help all who can

work to find and keep jobs -- including absent fathers who must be held responsible for supporting their children.

In the next decade, progressives should embrace an even more ambitious social goal -- helping every working family lift itself from poverty. Our new social compact must reinforce work, responsibility, and family. By expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit, increasing the supply of affordable child care, reforming tax policies that hurt working families, making sure absent parents live up to their financial obligations, promoting access to home ownership and other wealth-building assets, and refocusing other social policies on the new goal of rewarding work, we can create a new progressive guarantee: No American family with a full-time worker will live in poverty.

Source: The Hyde Park Declaration 00-DLC3 on Aug 1, 2000

Add 10% for HUBZone businesses in federal awards.

Kerry introduced the HUBZone Priority Preference Act

Amends the Small Business Act to require a Federal procurement contract awarded as a best value contract by competition to an eligible small business owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals to include an evaluation factor for a bidding participant that is also a qualified HUBZone (historically underutilized business zone) small business. Prohibits such factor from exceeding ten percent of the best value factor assigned to price as an evaluation factor.

Source: Bill sponsored by 2 Senators 02-S1994 on Mar 6, 2002

Establish a National Affordable Housing Trust Fund.

Kerry introduced the National Affordable Housing Trust Fund Act

Establishes the National Affordable Housing Trust Fund in the Treasury to promote the development of affordable low-income housing through grants to States and local jurisdictions.

Source: Bill sponsored by 22 Senators 03-S1411 on Jul 15, 2003

Tax credits to promote home ownership in distressed areas.

Kerry introduced the Community Development Homeownership Tax Credit Act

Amends the Internal Revenue Code to permit a community homeownership tax credit based upon an applicable percentage of each qualified residence's eligible basis. Makes such credit available to residences (including factory built homes) located:

  1. in a census tract with a median gross income not exceeding 80 percent of the greater area or statewide median gross income;
  2. in a rural area;
  3. on an Indian reservation; or
  4. in an area of chronic economic distress.
Prohibits a buyer's income from exceeding 80 percent (70 percent for families of less than three) of the area gross median income and requires owner occupancy.
Source: Bill sponsored by 45 Senators 03-S875 on Apr 10, 2003

Fully fund AmeriCorps.

Kerry signed a letter from 43 Senators to the President

To: President George W. Bush

Dear President Bush:

We write to express our strong support for AmeriCorps and recognize the leadership you have shown on this issue over the years. We know you agree that AmeriCorps is an outstanding program which has proven successful in addressing our homeland security needs, leveraging volunteers, and improving the quality of services available to a broad range of Americans.

Unfortunately, as you know, the Corporation for National Service officially announced yesterday unprecedented and drastic funding cuts, from 50 to 95 percent in every state. These cuts mean that under the State Competitive funding stream the Corporation will only fund 2,036 volunteers, compared with 11,236 last year. Many states will see their volunteer allocations under the competitive stream drop by as much as 90 percent and 16 states are shut out completely.

In your 2002 State of the Union address, you called for every American to dedicate 4,000 hours to community service throughout their lives. In your 2004 budget request, you proposed increasing the number of AmeriCorps volunteers from 50,000 to 75,000. Unfortunately, due to serious errors made by the Corporation, fewer than half this number of Americans will be allowed to serve their country through service.

We should support, not oppose, efforts to encourage more Americans to enter public service. We should do everything in our power to reward the American men and women who have chosen to serve the country and their communities in the hope of meeting the nation's critical education, safety, health, and homeland security needs.

We urge you to request additional funding in the supplemental appropriations bill to ensure that AmeriCorps remains a strong and vital program today and in the future.

Source: Letter from 43 Senators to the President 03-SEN5 on Jun 17, 2003

Support school breakfast for low-income children.

Kerry signed bill favoring school breakfast for low-income kids