Former President Bill Clinton addressed a packed audience at a luncheon for the National Partnership for Women and Families last week, highlighting how small policy changes in the US could radically affect women’s lives. “We live in a world that is unequal, insecure, and unsustainable,” Clinton told the crowd before offering ways to change US policy that would provide for equality, security, and sustainability.
One such change, Clinton offered, could be the low-income tax credit. The majority of low-income tax credit recipients are working women with children. Under Clinton’s presidency, $40 billion stayed with the working poor and 2 million children escaped poverty, principally because of this program. Today, however, 25 percent of those eligible for the credit do not apply, and, under the Bush administration, the IRS spends more time and resources investigating fraud among poor people than it does among the wealthy. Clinton emphasized the need to have this program more easily accessible for poor people, even by simply including it on the short form for tax preparations.
Clinton also believes that financial services should be more readily available to the poor. In the US, 28 million people don’t have a bank account, meaning that they lose up to $1,000 a year, just cashing checks. Others are driven to take short-term loans, which can carry interest rates ranging from 40 to 500 percent.