Monday, August 6, 2007

Sens. Clinton (D-NY) & Smith (R-OR) Introduce New Saver's Act

Bill Proposes Innovative, Low-cost Measures to Boost Savings and Asset Ownership
The New Savers Act, drawn heavily from the work of New America's Asset Building Program, aims to increase savings by all Americans, especially lower-income Americans, through targeted incentives and better access to wealth-building financial services. Specifically, the legislation promote savings at tax-time; expands electronic banking; allows contributions to college savings accounts to qualify for the Savers Credit; revives and promotes U.S. Savings Bonds; makes 529 college savings plans more transparent and progressive; promotes innovations in financial products and services; and establishes a children’s Roth IRA called “Young Savers Accounts” so children can start saving early in life.
(To learn more, click this link, does not open in new window, click “back” button to return: http://www.newamerica.net/programs/asset_building# )

Much of my life, I have worked in jobs working with poor people. (I know “poor people” is not the term that social workers or politicians or journals use. The generally used terms are “economically disadvantaged” or “low income”, but there is nothing wrong with the term “poor”; it is not pejorative, it is a good, honest, descriptive word.) Anyway. While the causes of poverty are varied, it is my observation that most poverty is not a result of lack of opportunity or racism or discrimination. The leading cause of poverty is the “culture of poverty”. It is those habits and ways of thinking and values that keep poor people, poor. It is frustrating to see people make foolish decisions that ruin their life, but we can not give up on them. We need programs that will change values and behaviors. Any program such as the one described above should be supported. There is a difference between programs that simply subsidized ones poverty and programs that work to get people out of poverty. Unfortunately in the past, many of the anti-poverty programs actually created a culture of poverty and destroyed those incentives that help people overcome their poverty. Programs that instill a habit and desire to save among poor people are worthy of support.

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