Talking About Talking About Poverty

Writing in The Nation, reporter Greg Kaufmann updates readers on the national campaign to include discussion of poverty policy in the Presidential debates. He interviewed Topos Senior Fellow Margy Waller about reframing the public dialogue.

Waller said research suggests that the way we usually talk about poverty—even using the words “poverty” and “welfare” themselves—“makes most people think about people who don’t work, and bad personal choices, and irresponsibility. People’s beliefs are now so hardened in that stereotype, it’s very hard to overcome even with evidence that says otherwise.”

She believes Obama is on the right track by offering “a new narrative that wakes people up and enables them to listen.”

“He’s talking about how we create an economy that is good for everyone,” said Waller. “It opens the door to focusing on the role of government policy in addressing issues like wage stagnation, and maintaining a wage and benefit floor for good jobs. It points to how we are all better off when everyone is contributing to our economy and civic life, and we have jobs in our local communities that are family-supporting.”

Read the whole column here.