Thumbs down on the Poverty Forum’s poverty agenda from American Prospect’s Sarah Posner and Peter Laarman over at Religion Dispatches. Laarman’s essay is particularly worth reading, because he places the exercise in historical context, showing how it fits into the downward spiral of seriousness about combating poverty since the 1960s. While he overlooks the odd proposal that might get in the way of his thesis–the agenda does include an expansion of housing vouchers, for example–in toto this amounts to little more than what George W. Bush might have advanced under the title of Compassionate Conservatism back in 2001.
Which is to say, it is utterly out of touch with current economic realities. For example, it lays great stress on creating ways to help poor people save money at a time when saving for the future is the least of their problems. It’s also disconnected from the current state of legislative play. Of the two minor proposals on health care, one deals with seeking to suppress abortion funding via SCHIP–a piece of legislation that is now passed and signed. Posen and Laarman imply that Jim Wallis got rolled on this one by the conservative evangelicals he seems so desperate to sign up to the cause. It’s hard to disagree. At a time when the Democrats are comfortably in the saddle, the question is: Why bother?