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President Obama has been a lifelong advocate for the poor. As President, his life experiences inform his efforts to create a path of opportunity for all hard-working Americans to enter the middle class.


The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act included broad investments to alleviate the poverty made worse by economic crisis.

  • To fight hunger, the Act includes a $20 billion increase for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps, as well as funding for food banks and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC);
  • The Act also provides for $2 billion in new Neighborhood Stabilization Funds to help maintain ailing neighborhoods and $1.5 billion in Homelessness Prevention Funds to keep people in their homes or rapidly rehouse them;
  • The Act increases funding for the Community Services Block Grant by $1 billion;
  • The Act increases the Weatherization Assistance Program by $5 billion to help low income families save on their energy bills by making their homes more energy efficient;
  • The Act increases job training funds for those who need them most, with $3.95 billion in additional funding for the Workforce Investment system, which will support green job training, summer jobs for young people, and other opportunities;
  • The Act provides increased income support, including an increase of $25 per week for Unemployment Insurance recipients and incentives for states to expand unemployment insurance eligibility, as well as an extra $250 payment to Social Security and Supplemental Security Income beneficiaries and new resources for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program; and,
  • The Act provides tax breaks to working families through the Make Work Pay and Child Tax Credits. These changes will reduce the marriage penalty and provide a larger credit for families with three or more children.

Guiding Principles

President Obama has been a lifelong advocate for the poor. As a young college graduate, he rejected the high salaries of corporate America and moved to the South Side of Chicago to work as a community organizer. As an organizer, President Obama worked with Chicago residents, churches, and local government to set up job training programs for the unemployed and after-school programs for kids. As President, his life experiences inform his efforts to create a path of opportunity for all hard-working Americans to enter the middle class. President Obama will lead a new federal approach to revitalize communities stricken by the economic crisis as well as communities that were hurting before it began.

Expand Opportunity

Too many Americans live without hope for a better future or access to good, family-supporting jobs. President Obama is committed to creating the opportunity for all Americans to grab the first rung on the ladder to the middle class. That includes investing in strategies to make work pay, expanding access to affordable housing, and helping low-income Americans build the job skills to succeed in the workforce.

Stem the Tide

The economic crisis has hit low-income American families particularly hard. President Obama will help vulnerable Americans through this crisis by making sure they have the resources they need to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads, while also extending tax credits to low-wage workers.

Strengthen Families

President Obama was raised by a single parent, and knows the difficulties that young people face when their fathers are absent. He is committed to responsible fatherhood, by supporting fathers who stand by their families and encouraging young men to work towards good jobs in promising career pathways.

Mothers who are struggling in poverty also need support to raise healthy children. The President has proposed an historic investment in providing home visits to low-income, first-time parents by trained professionals. The President and First Lady are also committed to ensuring that children have nutritious meals to eat at home and at school, so that they grow up healthy and strong.