The Census Bureau reported a higher number of poverty rates for the elderly, Asians and Hispanics. It has hit a record 49 million in 2010, higher by 16%. This contradicts the September official data that said the number of poor Americans was at 46.2 million. People aged 65 and up contributed the highest percentage at 15.9% as they are badly affected by Medicare’s out-of-pocket medical expenses and co-pays. The official count said the rate for poor senior citizens was 9%.
The count stresses the issues faced by Republicans and Democrats who are pushing for a federal budget cut of $1.2 trillion in the next ten years. They both proposed cuts to Medicare in billions of dollars. Brookings Institution’s Ron Haskins said that people will say how crucial it is not to cut even a penny out of Medicare spending which is unfortunate because it’s an argument against solving the deficit. Medicare and Social Security pensions for the elderly are seen to be the hottest 2012 election issues for both parties.
Census Bureau’s broader measure was developed with the help of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the National Academy of Sciences. The official poverty measure centers on the poor’s food budgets and wages. The new data included benefits like food stamps and expenses like taxes, medical, housing and cost of living. It also included official poverty estimates that determined programs for the poor eligibility. Overall, this shows a U.S. poverty rate of 16% as opposed to 15.1% that was officially released. A family of four in poverty has a yearly income threshold of $24,343 against $22,113. Economic Policy Institute’s Dave Cooper said this shows that present government programs are inadequate.
The poverty rate for whites, Asians and the working age increased but fell for blacks and children. Hispanic poverty rate overshadowed that of blacks for the first time by 28.2% to 25.4% partly due to reduced programs participation such as housing grants. Otherwise, the poverty rate would have been 18% if not for low to moderate income earners’ income tax credit.