Is this a great country or what?
The 14.3 percent poverty rate, which covers all ages, was the highest since 1994. Still, it was lower than estimates of many demographers who were bracing for a record gain based on last year’s skyrocketing unemployment. Many had predicted a range of 14.7 percent to 15 percent.
Analysts credited in part increases in Social Security payments in 2009 as well as federal expansions of unemployment insurance, which rose substantially in 2009 under the economic stimulus program. With the additional unemployment benefits, workers were eligible for extensions that gave them up to 99 weeks of payments after a layoff.
Another likely factor was a record number of working mothers, who helped households by bringing home paychecks after the recession took the jobs of a disproportionately high number of men.
"Given all the unemployment we saw, it’s the government safety net that’s keeping people above the poverty line," said Douglas Besharov, a University of Maryland public policy professor and former scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute.
So let’s government spending some more and so away with Social Security. Even conservatives (not the right-wingers on Capitol Hill) recognize the value of a government safety net. When you don’t have a job, cutting income taxes doesn’t do much for you.