Poverty and the US Safety Net


Hello, I’d like to welcome you to today’s webinar, Poverty and the U.S. Safety Net. I’m Andy King, a training specialist with the Corporation for National and Community Service; and I’ll be your host for this session. You’ll see I’m joined by Bethany Dusablon from Education Northwest and Sam Graziani from JBS International. They’re helping to produce today’s session. And they’ll be supporting you in both the Chat and the Q&A to help you get your questions answered or to provide support if you’re having technical issues. And now I’d like to welcome our main presenter for today. We’re very fortunate to have with Dr. Stephen Pimpare, who is a lecturer in the Politics and the Society Program. And he’s a Fellow at the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire, where he writes and teaches about poverty, inequality and economic security. He’s the author of A People’s History of Poverty in America and a long-time friend of us here at the AmeriCorps VISTA Program. He’s not just an academic, but he’s also a former practitioner with a wealth of on the ground experience too. He’s spent many years helping soup kitchens and food pantries in New York City to manage their scarce resources and to better serve their clients. Here’s what we hope you’ll get out of our webinar today. We hope that you’ll be able to identify the main social welfare programs in the United States and then explain their effects on poverty. We’ll spend some time looking at poverty changes since the War on Poverty began. Then we’ll look at the role of social insurance and social assistance programs, and discuss examples of each. We also want you to be able to explain what a tax expenditure is and how that fits into the U.S. social welfare state. So we’ll talk about how they impact the budget and which groups benefit from various social welfare programs. And finally, we’ll take some time so you can think about how you might be able to use this information in your VISTA service. And we’ll give you some time to ask questions. All right, so with that, I’m going to turn things over to Dr. Stephen Pimpare. Stephen? Thank you, Andy. Hello, everyone, and welcome. I’m very glad to be here today. To get us started, I’d like to conduct this very brief anonymous poll. And the question, as you can see and hear, is simple. Have you or your family ever benefited from a U.S. social welfare program? And if you could go ahead and hit either Yes, No, or Not Sure and then be sure to hit that Submit button, we’ll see what we get for a sense of the room. I see results are rolling in. If you haven’t already, why don’t you go ahead and respond in the next couple of seconds. And with that, why don’t we close out that poll and see what we get by way of results. That’s going to take just a moment or two as the cretins behind the scenes do the calculating. It’s exciting, right – all this suspense about what the results will be? All right, so those should be popping up any moment now. I should be seeing those, Andy; or are those going to pop up in another screen. They will pop up right in this screen. All right, so we’ve got fully half of you say that your family has, in fact, benefited from a social welfare program. 20% say no, neither you nor your family has. And another 9% not sure. And another 22%, you didn’t respond. And maybe that means also not sure or just folks who didn’t get around to hitting that button. All right, so why don’t we advance to the next slide. And what we’re going to try to do today is, among other things, help you understand what it is that the Federal Government does to help people who you might serve. And maybe, perhaps, get you to think a little bit more deeply about that particular poll question, which we’ll return to toward the end. Now, the truth is that even though we have a higher poverty rate in the United States than do other rich democracies, we still do a lot in the U.S. to reduce poverty. And while we don’t eliminate it with our social welfare programs, we cut it about in half from what it otherwise would be. So if you look at that slide – look at that green line there. It shows what’s often referred to as “market poverty” or what’s sometimes called “pretransfer poverty.” And that’s how much poverty there is in the United States before we count the effect of government programs. It’s how much poverty the economy creates. As you can see, market poverty in 2012 was actually a bit higher than it was in 1967, before the War on Poverty. But now look at that black line. That shows up the actual poverty rate, using the Census Bureau’s new supplemental measure, the poverty rate once we count the income that goes to U.S. households from Federal programs. So that actual poverty rate was about 16% in 2012, almost half of what it would have been without those social welfare programs. And it’s a full 10 percentage points lower than that rate was before the War on Poverty. It’s, among other things, another way to show that the War on Poverty did not fail. Government has done a lot to reduce poverty since the 1960s, even if we could argue that it could do more. So what we’ll do today is help you understand what the most effective of those Federal antipoverty programs are, talk a little bit about how they work, who is eligible for them and what effects they have on poverty. Let’s talk about what those most important programs are. This is a look at the programs that reduced poverty the most in 2014. And we’re going to talk today just about the three biggest ones. And then later, if you’d like, you could ask questions about any of the others that you may be interested in. If you look at the top chunk of that graph that you see in front of you, the further that bar pushes to the left, the more that particular program reduces the poverty rate. Notice the first three on that list: Social Security; refundable tax credits, and we’re going to talk particularly about the Earned Income Tax Credit; and SNAP. Let’s start at the top there. The most effective antipoverty program in the United States today, by far, is Social Security. Now, the most important part of that program is what we call “Old Age Insurance.” That’s the retirement program for people over the age of 62 or 65 or 67 or 70, depending on your age. Now, there are other parts of that program. There’s SSDI; that helps permanently disabled people who have work histories. There’s the Survivors’ Benefit Program. That goes mostly to children with a working parent who dies. But the largest and the most important part of this is the retirement program, Old Age Insurance. Now, that piece of Social Security is what’s sometimes called an entitlement program. And one way to think of that is that everyone who meets the requirements of the program is entitled to benefits regardless of the income. In this case, those requirements are having worked a minimum number of months over your life while paying Social Security taxes and then having reached a certain age. So even wealthy Americans can receive Social Security benefits. It’s what’s sometimes also called a universal program. Medicare, by the way, is like that too. Pretty much everyone over the age of 65 gets Medicare health benefits regardless of their income. Now, there are some who people worry that sending Social Security checks to retired higher-income Americans is a waste of money. But ultimately, I would argue that doesn’t wind up being too much expense overall. There actually aren’t that many millionaires or billionaires. And further, many political scientists – and I count myself among them here – think the fact that the program is universal makes it more resistant to efforts to cut its benefits since everybody thinks they have a stake in the program’s success. That is, this program, Social Security, may be our most effective precisely because it also gives benefits to people other than poor and low-income ones. As you can see here, in 2015, almost 40 million people got checks from Social Security each month. And although those benefits were fairly modest ultimately — about $1,300 a month — for most older households, that was the majority of their income. And for one-third of older households, it was 90% of their income. Just as a footnote, that’s even more important to older African Americans and Hispanic American households, many of whom count on Social Security as their only income in retirement. So here’s the effect of that program in brief. Social Security cuts elderly poverty in half and lifts fully 26 million people out of poverty, reducing the poverty rate by a full 8 percentage points. Let’s move on. The next most effective program is the Earned Income Tax Credit. And that’s what’s referred to as a refundable tax credit. What that means is that low-income working people can not only get back at the end of the year what they paid in Federal taxes — depending on their work histories, depending on how many kids they have, depending on their income. And some of them can get back even more than they paid in, in taxes. That’s why that’s called refundable. Notice one thing here. Both Social Security and the Earned Income Tax Credit achieve their goals in pretty straightforward ways. They reduce poverty by distributing money to people. And there is both and more research, both domestically here in the U.S. and when we look overseas, to suggest that this is, in fact, the most effective and the most cost-effective way to reduce poverty. Give people money. Now, here is the tricky part. Give people money and trust that most of them will, in fact, use it in the way that will most help their family. Here is a summary of the EITC. In this case, it brings the poverty rate down a full three percentage points and lifts the incomes of almost nine million people above the poverty line. It also, by the way, lifts the incomes of many more, who are still poor after they get their EITC check but are less poor. And then finally, let’s move on to that third most effective antipoverty program. And that’s SNAP – what used to be called Food Stamps. And this is sometimes referred to as a near-cash program. And the way in which this works, as many of you no doubt know, is it gives people who meet certain income requirements an electronic benefits card, like an ATM card. And that card can only be used to purchase certain kinds of food. This is ultimately relatively modest money. It averages about $258 per household per month. But that’s an important amount of money that can ultimately make a very large difference in the economic stability of a low-income household. Once again, we overall see the effect. Almost five million people lifted above the poverty line thanks to SNAP, reducing that overall poverty rate a good one-and-a-half percentage points. All right, let me pause here for just a moment and maybe give you all an opportunity just to continue to weigh in, in the Chat about these programs. And maybe you can talk a little bit about whether you’ve encountered them in your own life or during your VISTA service. Maybe say a little something about what your experience of them is and maybe anything that you can share about how you’ve observed about how they work on the ground. And then I’ll leave it to Andy maybe to sort of pick through and highlight what he thinks are interesting observations we might share. Sure thing, so we’ve got the question up there on the screen. What have you noted, in your work as a VISTA, about how people who are struggling to get by interact with some of these programs we’ve just been looking at? A few people are noting how difficult it can be to access programs or the enrollment or qualification process can be difficult or confusing. (Multiple voices) Some of them have noted that even they’re receiving benefits, they’re still left largely impoverished. Maybe it helps, but it’s not a complete game changer there. The thing I was going to point out is that someone talked about underutilization of the SNAP program among elderly Americans, which is something we notice from the data. A lot of people talking about difficulty of getting benefits out of the program. Yes, and even understanding some of them. For instance, for EITC, you’ve got to file a tax return and know how to do that and know that it exists and essentially wait until the end of the year during tax filing season to even access that part of that program. And folks are noting that there’s a stereotype, that there are a ton of people, or maybe more people than is actually true, taking advantage of these benefits. I see some people talking about the eating habits of people on SNAP which, by and large, we know tend to parallel the eating habits of people not on SNAP. So that raises some interesting questions about sort of the broader question of food culture, and whether we can or should structure our policy programs in order to alter the behavior of one population without necessarily focusing on another. Another insight that I thought was interesting – Jessica comments. She says, “I wonder how much these programs are actually contributing to keeping people in poverty.” And then a number of you just commenting that, yeah, these things help; but probably not enough. That SNAP is great, but groceries are really expensive; and SNAP only gets you so far. So lots and lots of variations on some of these themes. Terrific, so why don’t we go ahead and move on? Thank you all for that. We will have plenty of other opportunities to start to work through these issues. This is that same slide that you saw earlier. It’s the broader effects again, showing even more programs – you can see the list of them there – and the effects that each of them had on the poverty rate in 2014. As you can see here, there’s a reasonably large drop off in poverty reduction effect after we get from Social Security and refundable tax credits down to SNAP. And I do want to just draw your attention to TANF there. That’s the cash welfare program for women with children. It’s a program that gets lots of attention sometimes, but actually reaches relatively few people and has very modest poverty reduction effects overall. It’s also, I think, if you look down towards the bottom of the screen and the bars that push out to the right, worth noting the things that increase rather than reduce poverty. Now, the biggest factor here, as you can see, is what the Census calls M-O-O-P, MOOP. I think it’s the worst acronym of the Obama Administration – Medical Out-Of-Pocket expenditures. This is how much people pay even after their insurance or their Medicare or their Medicaid or their Veterans benefits step in and what they wind up having to pay out-of-pocket for medical care. If it were not for out-of-pocket medical expenditures, the 2014 poverty rate would have been almost four full percentage points lower than it was – closer to 11% rather than 15%. And then lastly, for our purposes here, I want you to also notice FICA there. It’s sort of the third up from the bottom. That’s the tax that you pay on all earnings from work. And you can see it on your paychecks, as you’ve probably noted. And that tax funds the Social Security program. And by the way, it’s not refundable under the Earned Income Tax Credit. So Social Security reduces poverty a lot, as we’ve seen, when it pays out benefits. But notice that it also increases the poverty of some working people too. It’s a way of underlining for us the ways in which these are ultimately very complicated programs that can have complicated effects. It’s also, if we go on to the next slide, I think worth noting that most of the spending of the U.S. Welfare State – contrary sometimes to myth or the stereotype – tends to go to groups that have traditionally tended to be thought of as “deserving” or “worthy.” Meaning most of the beneficiaries for most programs are children, the elderly, disabled people and people who are already working. Put another way, very little of our social welfare spending in these traditional programs goes to able-bodied adults who do not work. In fact, most of how these programs do work is to transfer money from people who can work and do to people who cannot work because of age or infirmity or maybe the absence of jobs where they happen to be located. All right, Andy. We’re going to pause here and take your questions. We’ve got a few already that have come in through the Q&A. But I’m going to invite our operator, Brad, to come back and give instructions for asking a question by phone. Brad? Certainly, sir. At this time, if you’d like to ask a question, please press “star 1”. Please unmute your phone and record your name when prompted. If at any time your question has been answered and you’d like to remove your request, you may press “star 2”. Once again, that is “star 1” to ask a question. Terrific, and while we’re waiting for questions to come in my phone, I’ll just remind you if you don’t see the Q&A panel on the right side of your screen, it’s now towards the bottom right. Or maybe if the poll is still open, it’s near the top of your screen. Just click the little triangle next to Q&A, and that will open it back up Stephen, the first question comes from Jessica. And she says: How is poverty defined now versus how it was defined during the days of the War on Poverty? Well, that is in some ways a much longer and more complicated question then we should probably devote too much time here today. But I can say is that the chart that you were looking at with the green and the black bars, that was created by some of my former colleagues at Columbia University who have taken the Census Bureau’s newest and, I would argue, best poverty measure – the Supplemental Poverty Measure – which has only been in existence now for, oh, shoot, three years, maybe four years at the outside. And they have, through some fairly sort of sophisticated methodology, projected what that measure would be going all the way back to the 1960s. So that chart that I showed you theoretically, if their methods are right, is giving us sort of a constant measure using the same tools. It’s controlling for inflation; it’s controlling for food costs; it’s controlling for housing costs. It’s trying to do all of those things that you may remember from your PSO are not necessarily done too well by that official measure. So that’s about the best data that we can get, given the tools that we have available to us now. Great, and I’ll just mention in addition to that, Stephen, that we do have several resources that get to that very question. They’re available on the VISTA Campus. We have a webinar on demand that, in fact, Stephen delivered some time ago, as well as a couple of tutorials that walk you through. There’s a little animated video that shows how the poverty measure was created and what the supplemental poverty measure does. So definitely take advantage of those. Next question, Thomas wants to know – we’ve been talking about the top, most effective antipoverty programs. And Thomas is curious, Stephen, how you’re defining “effective.” Is it just the largest number of people who are benefitting by the amount of government expenditure? Those data that we were looking at from the supplemental measure – I wonder, actually, can we go back to that slide that shows the bars pushing to the left and the bars pushing to the right? Is that, Sam, something we can do? Yes, perfect, thank you so much. So what you’re looking at there is this is, again, data that comes directly from the Census Bureau. And they do probably the most sophisticated survey that happens in the United States over any given year in a combination of different ways. But they gather reported information about people’s income, and then they gather data to try to correlate what people say they earned. And then they calculate the effects – so they learn where is all your income coming from. And they gather as much information as they possibly can. And that gives us the ability to say, okay, so here’s this household with X thousand dollars in total income. What happens if we take away Social Security? So you can have a little computer program that pulls away the money that comes from Social Security and asks, okay, does this now drop this household below poverty or change its overall income level? And very sophisticated programs can do that for all of the people that you’re gathering data on. And out of that, we get these larger overall effects; in this case, how many people have their incomes brought above the poverty line. And remember, that’s about $25,000 a year for a family of four. About how many people Social Security alone brings their income above the poverty line. So to the best of our ability – and these are imperfect measures, but we’re getting better all the time, I’d argue — these are sort of the best real numbers that we can manage to put together. Great, and you mentioned they are imperfect measures. And we have a question here related to that. Adrian asks: What are the shortcomings of the supplemental poverty measure? When using data, is there something that we should keep in mind? And are there other methods maybe to use along with the supplemental poverty measure that would create a fuller image of poverty? The answers are yes and yes. I’m trying to think of what’s the concise way to get at that. As a general rule, part of the problem here is I would argue that you should start by asking what is it that you are trying to understand. As I mentioned earlier, that threshold that the Census Bureau sets for poverty — $25,000 for a family of four — right away a lot of people argue that that threshold is too low. That you could be a family of four with $28,000 a year in income and still not be able to meet basic needs. So right away you need to, I think, ask yourself, what is it that I am trying to understand here? And increasingly, for me, what I try to think about is wellbeing. To what extent are the families that I am working with or trying to write about able to meet their basic needs and sort of function fully as participants in society and as citizens? And that’s a harder thing to measure, as you might imagine – a harder thing to get your head around. Poverty measures can be one way we might look at that. Income and equality might be one way to look at that. Access to food might be a piece of that puzzle. Access to education or upward mobility or whether you’ve good high-speed Internet connection in your home might be a measure of your ability to participate. Are you able to afford childcare for your children so that you can go out and work the kinds of jobs that you want, and so on and so on? I think that in an ideal world, I would create a multidimensional measure that gives us a richer sense of people’s ability to survive and thrive too. Great, and we’re going to wrap up our Q&A session here. But Sara asked a few questions that I think are brilliant for VISTA members. And we may not be able to actually answer them here, but I at least want to raise them just so as we move through the next part of the session we can all benefit from these. Sara says: What is the goal of these antipoverty measures? Is it to reduce suffering or to empower those individuals to actually move out of poverty? And then she goes on to say: How do these programs build the capacity of those in poverty? How do they enable those who benefit to succeed rather than to feed dependence? Stephen, I don’t know if there is actually an answer to that. But I just wanted to put that out and see if you had any thoughts before we move on. Let me take a quick shot at it because I think Social Security there is a good example because we can look at the creation of that program in 1935. And we’ve got really good records. We know exclusively why that program was created. And that program was created because older Americans in the worst economy in the modern era were first thrown out of work in the Great Recession because they were less productive; and they were the most expensive because they’d been around the longest. So they were first out of work, and their need was growing more and more desperate. And the point of the Social Security program was to figure out a way to ensure, A, that that short-term group of elderly poor were able to keep a roof over their heads and not be evicted and were able to buy food for themselves. And then in the longer term that we created a program that systematized the means by which people could hope to be able to retire someday and still meet their basic human needs. That’s a key logic of the program. And there’s not any expectation that there is a moral failure at the heart of elderly people’s needs, but merely that they become less desirable to the labor market as they age. And we made a collective decision in the 1930s that we, in our public policy, would step in and make up for those failures of the private labor market. I won’t go program by program right now. But I would argue that there is a similar kind of story to be told about each of those programs, that they are a way to compensate for the failures of the labor market. All right, terrific. Well, thank you so much for the questions that have come in so far. The Q&A will remain open. Brad, I just want to check to see if anyone had dialed in on the phone. Yes, we do have one, sir, from Joe. Okay, great. Hi, Joe, go ahead. Hi, Joe. Oh, hello, glad to be here. I’m wondering, one of the people I work with through my university’s extension program has done research on poverty. His name is Dr. Tom Hirschl. And he found that poverty is fluid; I mean, it’s not static. The majority of Americans don’t stay in a single economic strata or class their entire lives. The majority, about 56% of them, move around or might experience poverty one year and then not poverty the next. So my question is: How do these social programs and benefit programs compensate for that? And do they take that into account? That’s a terrific question. Let me do my best to give you a relatively succinct answer, if I can. What your reference is, is this is work done by Robert Rank and Professor Hirschl, which in some way sort of redefines the field of how we think about poverty. And they’ve been engaged in some fairly sophisticated analysis of income data that comes actually from another source. It’s called the Panel Study of Income and Dynamics. So it’s a place other than the Census Bureau where we get interesting research. And what they found, as Joe suggested, is that the poverty measure that we pay attention to is a static measure. It tells us how many people were poor the moment that we conducted that survey. But we know that people move in and out of poverty over time. So if we look at the official data, last year there was somewhere in the neighborhood of 15% of the population was poor. But if we step back and we look over a four-year period, we find that more than one-third of all Americans have their income drop below the poverty line for two months or more. And if we step back even further – and this is Rank and Hirschl’s research – and look over the course of people’s entire lives, more than half of all Americans will be poor for at least a year total. That, I think, fundamentally alters how we think about who it is who is poor. Each of these programs, therefore, can pop in and out of people’s lives over time. And just as a shorthand to point that out, when I was a graduate student, I was a recipient of the Earned Income Tax Credit because my income dropped below poverty. I was working, but not enough to pay my bills and to go to school. The EITC stepped in, made it possible for me to get a graduate degree. And then we can all, I suppose individually, judge whether that was a good investment or not. So that’s a terrific question; I don’t want to give it short shrift. But I also want to be mindful of the time and see if we need to move along, Andy. Yeah, let’s go ahead. We will have time for more questions later, so it’s not your last chance. But thank you, Stephen. All right, and thank you, Joe. That really was an exceptionally good question and a tough one. There’s one other standard program that I want to draw our attention to today. And these are referred to typically as tax expenditures by the fancy numbers people and colloquially referred to as tax breaks. And we’ve already discussed one of them, and I just brought it up again. That’s the Earned Income Tax Credit. It’s a program that goes exclusively to low-income working people. And it operates through the Tax Code rather than a more traditional program like SNAP or like the WIC Program, the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, if you know that. So this social spending through the Tax Code typically rewards certain kinds of behavior. And they reduce how much of your income gets taxed if you do certain things or if you use your money in certain kinds of ways. And what you’re looking at here are the largest ones. They put more money in your pocket, for example, if you or your employer saves for your retirement or buys health insurance. And the amount of money that you spend on your health plan doesn’t get counted as income for tax purposes. Or, looking at that third bar, if you have a mortgage on your house, you get to deduct the interest that you pay on that loan, which lowers your overall tax obligations. Also, although we don’t, I would argue, think of it this way, that’s a housing subsidy — just as much as Section 8 vouchers or living in public housing projects are subsidies. After all, these programs –the mortgage interest deduction, Section 8 or public housing — all have the same effect. They reduce your housing costs from what they otherwise would be. Now, these are important because the total amount of money that’s spent on these tax breaks, what’s sometimes called “hidden spending” or “submerged stake spending,” sometimes dwarfs the amount of money that’s spent on those more traditional assistance programs. So note here, for example, that in 2014 the home mortgage tax deduction cost about $67 billion, while only $19 billion was spent on the Section 8 program which helps pay rent for low-income families. Or about the same amount was spent on the home mortgage tax deduction as on SNAP. Yet only one of these programs is the regular subject of scrutiny and debate when we are talking about social welfare spending. So if we look at the next chart we’ve got here, the category of social welfare spending doesn’t necessarily help us reduce poverty. Another thing that I think we might want to think about when we think about who benefits from the wide variety of things that Government does, perhaps it’s more people than we sometimes think. And moreover, if we go on to the next slide, because of how these programs are structured, they tend to disproportionately benefit upper-income Americans rather than lower-income Americans. And you can see these here. And this comes, I believe, from the Congressional Budget Office. You can see that, if we move on, think about the home mortgage deduction. The more expensive your house, the larger your mortgage, the more you’re paying in interest and therefore the larger your subsidy. The more money the Government, in effect, sends back to you at the end of a year. But the people who can’t afford to buy a house don’t benefit at all. And if we look again specifically here at the home mortgage deduction, households with income over $100,000 a year receive most of the benefits from this particular housing support program. It’s worth, I think, noting that this makes the United States unusual. There’s no other rich democracy that hides quite so much of its welfare state or organizes its programs in such a way that disproportionately benefit higher-income people. And you can see the general pattern here. It’s not that there are no other countries that organize their social spending in this way. But most of those who reduce poverty the most don’t do it so much, and some of them don’t do it at all. Now, there’s a different kind of consequence of distributing social welfare benefits in this fashion. And if we can go on to the next slide, it’s that large numbers of Americans who benefit from social welfare spending do not actually realize that they too may well be the recipients of welfare. Those submerged States policies, benefits that we manage through the Tax Code, those are the ones that we here show in blue. So as you can see if you can sort of pick out the story this chart is trying to tell us, 60% of those who benefited from the home mortgage tax deduction, for example, say that they have never benefited from any government social program. More than 50% of people who received Federal student loans say the same thing. Now, I think this is important if we think that political support for social welfare programs will help make them better, right? The more people who support something, the more likely we are to improve it. And programs lack support often because people think they only benefit other people. It’s another way in which we separate out poor and low-income Americans in our thinking, maybe forgetting that most of us too over the course of our lives will also benefit from social welfare programs, although we may wind up using different ones. Let’s go back to where we started. What would you say now if I asked the same question again? Have you or your family ever benefited from a social welfare program? If we can get that poll back up again in fresh form. [Pause for responses] Okay, we’ve got results coming in. Again same thing — hit Yes, No, or Not Sure. And then be sure to hit Submit so that we record your result. We’ll leave it up for another 10-15 seconds. If you want to weigh in, go ahead and do that. [Pause for responses] All right, I’ll give it the benefit from the social welfare program. Okay, so we’ll give it just another second. All right, Sam, shall we go ahead and close out that poll and give it time to do its math and show the results to us? And if you remember when we first did the poll, 50% of you said yes; 20% of you said no; 9% weren’t sure; and then 22% didn’t weigh in. So let’s see how, if at all, if we wind up with different results. Okay, something’s happened. We’ve got now 64% who say yes, so that’s 14 percentage points more; 6% who say no, rather than 20%, so that 14% looks like it’s moved from the no to the yes. Slightly no lower numbers of people who are not sure and slightly higher numbers of people who didn’t get around to answering that question. Interesting, maybe not surprising perhaps, but points to, I think, just sort of the basic ways in which our thinking has been funneled into very narrow channels. When we talk about who gets government aid, we tend only to be talking about certain categories of people. If we sort of work out way toward concluding here, there are a couple of points that I guess I’d like to underscore. First is going back to the first point that I made, if we can move on to that summary slide. U.S. social welfare programs do a lot to reduce poverty. And they cut it in half from what it would be without just those key Federal assistance programs. Still leaves us with unusually high numbers of people in poverty — but nonetheless, radical poverty reduction effects. The second point is that lots of government programs in the U.S. distribute benefits to people who are not poor or low-income. Now, some of these, like Social Security and Medicare, distribute benefits to almost everyone once they’ve reached a certain age. Others, like the home mortgage tax deduction, distribute benefits through the Tax Code to people who engage in certain kinds of behavior. So you take all of that together and maybe you end up with a world that one social work scholar has written in which everyone is on all welfare. Now, that second fact can and should, I would argue, alter or maybe at least complicate our thinking about who it is who benefits from what government does. And maybe it can make it easier for us not to think of poor Americans’ relationship to government as all that different ultimately than other people’s. Now is the so-what question. Why do we care about this – why does it matter? So maybe here take an opportunity to think about how, or even if, this matters to you – whether your thinking has changed in any kinds of ways. Share any thoughts that you have at this point maybe, even if you’re not quite so sure of them. And then we’ll turn again to sort of questions down the road. But for now, just sort of maybe think out loud for us and your colleagues. And Andy, again I’ll sort of count on you to make sure I’m not missing too much as responses scroll by. Sure, let’s see, some of them are starting to come in. People are thinking about and reflecting on how what they’ve learned today is going to affect, or does affect already, how they’re thinking about what we call welfare. A couple have commented that it’s complicated, that it’s not as black and white or as simple as it sometimes is characterized to be. For some of them a refresher, reminding them of things that they had learned about. Validated beliefs already held about the tax system and how it can be used to help people. And people learning about hidden welfare or those submerged programs. Definitely broadened a lot of people’s views about what is included in welfare or what the Government is doing and who benefits from that. And a lot of agreement, a lot of me-too’s, particularly people saying, “It’s opened my eyes,” “broadened my view.” We have welfare for both the rich. Oh, and someone is quoting Martin Luther King, so we have, “Welfare for the rich and rugged capitalism for the poor.” So lots of different reflections there but, in general, I would say people have broadened their view. Got a sense for the complicated nature of these benefit programs and learned some things about what’s hidden typically from view. Terrific, and maybe this is a professional hazard, but sometimes I’m just as pleased to leave people asking more questions rather than necessarily having any clear answers. With that said, why don’t we move on to the next question that we want to put before you all and ask the second part of that so-what question, which is: What do you do with this knowledge now? Is there a way that you can start to think about how this might improve or inform your work as a VISTA? [Pause for responses] Always the harder question, right – how do you take knowledge and then turn it into action or behavior in some way? It is; and I think in some of the previous responses, people have already started to think along those lines, saying that we need to get the word out. We need to educate people. There is a social stigma and a lot of connotation – baggage – that goes along with the term “welfare.” And perhaps not a broad understanding in the general public about what’s really involved and what it can do and who is benefiting. And perhaps the role of educating and advocating. People saying advocating locally and at the state level for change around this. Helping people understand education. Breaking the stigma – yeah, so a lot of stuff around awareness and stigma. Yeah, and I see a number of questions about how VISTAs can sort of engage, maybe create spaces for discussion and education about these issues. Because I was having this conversation earlier in another context, talking about the current election and reminding people that most Americans are too busy just trying to get through the day. They’ve got a job or they’ve got two jobs and they’ve got kids and they’ve got drop off the car and they’ve got to drop in on their parents and see how they’re doing. They’ve gone a million things going on as a general rule. They don’t have the time or the energy or often the inclination to pay careful attention to matters of politics or policy. It’s not because they’re stupid. It’s because there are too many other things that are pressing in on them that are much more urgent or immediate. So part of the challenge for me – and I think about this a lot as someone who writes and someone who educates – is how do you create those spaces? How do you recognize the complexity of people’s lives and not lecture to them, but think about how do I make a space where they can come to and learn about the things that they want to learn about and try to help them better understand the world that they inhabit. And I do not presume for a moment to have an especially pat answer to that question. But I think a lot of your comments reveal that challenge. And, Stephen, I’ll just add one other point here because VISTAs, of course, are keenly aware of some of the limitations around their activities as VISTA members. And certainly, VISTA members can be effective and can be involved in educating and informing people, both in the general public and people who are elected officials, around issues and sharing with them statistics and research, whether it’s local or national. But the place where there’s a pretty clear line drawn in the sand is around what’s defined in the hatcheck as lobbying. And that is trying to influence the outcome of legislation or the outcome of elections. So I’ll just leave it at that. If you want to know more, certainly the VISTA Member Handbook explains in great detail about the hatcheck and how it applies to VISTA members and where some of those constraints are around your activities as a VISTA member, and even outside of your official VISTA responsibilities around political fundraising and other types of political engagement. So, just a little caveat there that I have to give. But certainly a few VISTAs had noted in the Chat around the slippery slope of politics. Yeah. All right, so I want to thank everyone for this great conversation that we’ve had through the Chat. And we’re going to get to the next round of Q&A. But I also want to point out, we’d like to hear your thoughts about today’s session, get your feedback about what worked for you. And if you have ideas for other topics that you’d like us to address in a VISTA webinar, please feel free to share those. I go through all of them. And as we are planning our calendar of webinar topics, we certainly use your suggestions and ideas. And while you’re filling out that evaluation poll, there are 10 questions. So remember, you’ll have to scroll down – use the slider bar – to get to the other questions. And while you’re doing that, we are going to open the next Q&A session. So I’ll invite Brad to come back and tell us about the telephones. Certainly, once again, if you would like to ask a question over the phone, please press “star 1” and then record your name when prompted. Great, and we also have the Q&A Panel; it’s now just above the poll. So if it’s like it is on my screen, it’s probably closed down. So you’ll have to click the little triangle to reopen it. And so to get us started, we’ve got plenty of questions in here already. So there is definitely no shortage there. Earlier, Stephen, you talked a little bit about Medicare as a program. And Mathew is curious whether that program, being insurance rather than an entitlement payout, has been measured as an antipoverty program. That’s a great question. To the best of my knowledge, for mostly technical reasons, the Census Bureau does not include the poverty reduction effects – we presume poverty reduction effects – of Medicare, in part because Social Security is easy. It’s you count what people’s income is, you count how much of that is coming in their Social Security checks, and you do literally simple addition and subtraction. However, how then do you count the value of the health care that they received through Medicare? How much of their better health – how do we quantify better health? I mean, does that have an economic value? If we say, well, okay, but the open market value of Medicare would be X dollars, so we should just count it as that amount. Some people do that. But the problem with that approach is that we know that people do not necessarily get health care simply because they are sick. If they do not have private health insurance or Medicare or Medicaid or services through the VA, sometimes if resources are scarce, they simply will not get care. So you can’t sort of quite math that way. So the roundabout answer to that is that I think it is fair to say consensus among researchers that any of the large health care programs – Medicare, Medicaid, the VA – make people better off physically. And we know that people who are in better physical health typically are in better economic health. So there’s a lot of sort of presuming about good positive effects about those programs. But I’m not sure that I’m aware of anything – anything that gives it a sort of real hard number basis. All right, we’ll have to leave that one with a partial answer. This next one goes back to sort of the foundation of some of the poverty measures that we’ve been looking at. Thomas says: Are you using income-based poverty measures or consumption-based poverty measures? And what about cost of living adjustments and inflation? How do those factor in? As I said earlier, all of the numbers that we’ve looked at today are from the Census Bureau’s supplemental poverty measure. And it has then been projected backwards through researchers at population-centered Columbia University. So it’s sort of this joint public/private effort to do things like control for inflation and control for cost of living. Those are all income-based measures. There is a robust debate in the poverty research community about consumption-based measures. And I would say that there is no consensus on those. There is a lot of methodological difficulty in getting at a consumption measure because part of the problem we have to confront is – the consumption measure sort of says, well, what about people’s ability to buy things? And that is the thing that we should measure, not their income. But then, okay, what are the things that we think people should be able to buy. That’s your first problem. How are we going to build that set of the things that we define as essential? And then how are we going to track prices? It turns out to be more complicated than it is at first blush. Like, well, we’ll just count the cost of food. Well, what food? Because different food has different costs. And the inflation of different kinds of foods varies. It’s like, well, we’re going to count transportation costs. Okay, then we’re going to have to have different transportation costs for people who live in cities and use public transportation and people who own cars. And what about people who have good gas mileage cars and poor gas mileage cars? And what about people who live in states like I do that has a very low state gas tax, so cheaper gas, and people who live in New York which has a much higher…? You can start to see that the minute you start to try to figure out how you do that, it gets really hard. And people try all the time. But my read anyway is that nobody is fully satisfied with any of those consumption measures yet. Okay, great. Natalie wonders if there are any concrete statistics on benefits abuse – say like SNAP or other programs. Yeah, there are all sorts of studies – usually internal and sometimes through the General Accountability Office, sometimes through Congress – that periodically will do long-term, sophisticated studies of overpayments and underpayments is usually the way that they are characterized. And as a general rule, the programs that we’re talking about – particularly Social Security – has a very low overpayment rate. I think it’s something like under 1%. Earned Income Tax Credit actually has a higher underpayment rate than overpayment rate. Meaning there is some evidence that people who do not qualify still wind up receiving the Earned Income Tax Credit. But there are actually larger numbers of people who do qualify who don’t wind up receiving the benefits. And then for SNAP, I think overpayment rates last I looked at the largest study was somewhere around 2%. And again, I believe underpayment rate was – and I don’t have this number off the top of my head – I want to say 3% or 4%. But as a general principle, we’re talking about programs that receive so much scrutiny for a lot of the reasons that people have talked about in the Chat. That they are so sort of in some way hyper policed, and the vigilance with which they are enforced makes the so-called abuse rates exceedingly low. If I were to list problems associated with those social welfare programs, benefits abuse would be very, very, very, very far down that list. Great. Brad, let’s check to see do we have any callers on the phone with questions? Yes, we do, sir. We have one from Catherine. Your line is open. Hello, how are you? Doing well, how are you today? I’m great thanks, just wanted to check if you could hear me. I’m a brand new VISTA; I just started on Monday. I’m going to be working with the National Guard in North Carolina. I’m very excited about that. My background is in education science. And so my question relates to my understanding of poverty as social exclusion and the multidimensionality of that – something that manifests in economic, social, political, neighborhoods, blah, blah, blah, blah – many, many facets. My question for you: How do we get more people to understand that poverty truly is multidimensional and has implications beyond the individual perspective – that’s the very, very small perspective – and beyond the big national perspective of these projects and programs that can be beneficial? How do we get people to understand that? That’s a great question; it’s a huge question, as you know. I can tell you what I do when I’m in a classroom with students and we’re starting to try to wrap our heads around these issues. One of the things that I do almost always right from the start is start looking internationally, and start to look at poverty and other measures of wellbeing across other rich democracies. And in very short order – this, I suspect, will not surprise you – what we find is that we are an outlier. We have higher rates of poverty than Western Europe, lots of Southern Europe, and the Nordic countries – Canada, Australia – that sort of set of 28, 30, 32 countries. Higher rates of poverty, higher rates of childhood poverty, higher rates of elderly poverty, higher rates of violence, lower rates of high school graduation, higher rates of addiction, higher rates of suicide, lower rates of health care coverage, higher rates of death from things like heart disease and other preventable, treatable illnesses. The list goes on. We see across a broad range of measures that I think contrary to what we would all love to believe about the United States, we in fact do very badly in caring for the overwhelming majority of us. And those measures are showing that we’ve gotten worse over the last number of decades rather than better. And I think that, for me, sort of serves as the starting place. Let’s look at the comparative stats and start to figure out what it is that’s going on here and how we make sense of that. And I have a second thing. I’m now trying to pull it from the recesses of my head because I was dumb enough not to write it down. Wellbeing, dimension – I’ve lost it, but if it comes back into my head, I promise you that I will circle back around to it. But I don’t want to sort hang out here and have you all listen to me have an (inaudible). All right, do we have another question on the line? That was the only question we had at this time, sir. Okay, well, we’ve got plenty more here. Next up, Jacqueline asks: Which antipoverty programs are available for individuals with a criminal record? She said, “It’s interesting to look at the number of individuals with criminal records – look at their poverty levels and then see how little social services exists for these people.” It’s tough; and people who do work on prison reentry and reintegration, confront this challenge all the time. These are a combination of Federal laws and state laws. So what is true will vary, depending on where you live. But there are many states in which if you have in particular a felony conviction, you are ineligible for public housing. You cannot live with anyone who is in public housing. You may be ineligible for Food Stamps. You may be ineligible for local assistance programs. You may be ineligible for employment certifications. So in New York State, you’re not able to get a license to cut hair and be a barber if you’ve got a felony record – all those kinds of inhibitions. And what people, again, who work with prisoner reentry discover is that this is a contributing factor to re-offense and people going back into the prison systems because they find themselves out. And they’re not able to stay with their families. They have a much more difficult time getting employment, and a felony already gets in the way of that. Not able to get health care assistance. Not able to get assistance with rent or with food, and are sometimes left in the position where the only options available to them are illegal sources of generating income. So it becomes really problematic just in that sort of what do we do with people who do emerge out of prison. And most people who go into prison do come out again. They’re there for 3- or 5-year or 10-year or even 20-year sentences. They will come out again and, one hopes, find a means by which they can be reintegrated back into society; but those are huge obstacles. The last thing to say about that — because this is in some ways also kind of a chicken and egg problem – is that if we look at the U.S. prison population, we also find that the people who are more likely to be incarcerated are lower-income, less educated, and increasingly less likely to have a problem with substance abuse for addiction and often disability. So we find those confounding factors, which we know even without prison can make you more likely to live in poverty. Add prison onto that, and we wind up sort of making it even harder to escape under those circumstances. It’s a tough problem. Next up, Joanne is curious to know: Why does EITC end when you turn 65? She says, “I’m 68 and still working.” I will confess my ignorance here. I’m not 100% certain that I know that to always be true. If that, in fact, is a provision of the program – and again, that doesn’t sound entirely right, but I’m not certain that I’m not certain. If it in fact does turn out to be true, presumably the logic there is that you’re 65; you should be drawing down on Social Security rather than EITC would be my guess as to why that exists as a program feature if, in fact, it does. And you could imagine the logic of that. You’re trying to ration scarce resources. And every effort at creating a budget in the United States and setting a budget for programs is allocating what people perceive to be scarce resources. So if there is a population who you might want to help but who you think might get assistance through other programs, you’ll often structure a program so that you can sort of push them into the other program and save some money for other people in that one. But I’m going to make a note because I need to check that for myself now. Okay, great, thank you. Jeff has a question, and he’s curious about the interaction between poverty alleviation programs and then what happens when they raise somebody above the poverty line. He described it as the cliff or the gap; that is, the amount of real wealth that families in poverty might lose when their income then exceeds the requirements to qualify for those programs. Yeah, and some programs deal with that better than others. I would argue that the Earned Income Tax Credit does an exceptionally good job of trying to confront that dilemma. And if you go online and look for EITC benefit eligibility and you look for some charts and graphs, you will see that the more children you have, the higher benefit obviously because there are more people to support now in the household. But the more hours you work, the higher your EITC refund is because it’s a program that is designed to reward and encourage work. But then it starts to level off at a certain level, but then only slowly declines. So it continues to build in this incentive so it isn’t, in fact, a cliff in that program. You get to a certain income level and you may get less for each hour worked than you did previously, but you are still getting a reward for each hour worked. And that reward gets smaller and smaller until the program does eventually phase out at a certain level. But I would argue the EITC does a terrific job at confronting that particular problem. Others, as you suggest, don’t necessarily. And they do have these sort of hard thresholds – maximum family income of this. Or there are eligibility requirements for SNAP that limit the household wealth that you can have. So they’ll limit the value of a car that you might have or other assets that might be of value. But that can wind up creating all kinds of perverse effects as you try to create incentives for a program and not create disincentives – those kind of rough drop-offs. I would argue for the most part those are not there out of malice. They’re there because good policy design is really hard, and the legislative process is really complicated with a lot of people weighing in. And it is, as a general principle, hard to get good policy out of the legislative process just because so many people involved with it wanting, rightly, to have influence in the outcome. You don’t have that tight little control that you would if you just had a handful of policy scholars designing a program, which would be obviously very undemocratic even if folks like me might think that would be a lovely solution. We have so many really fascinating questions here. Here’s one from Phoebe. She is asking about if our goal here is to lower the rates of people in poverty, she said, “How real of an option would stimulating the economy be as a method of lowering the number of people in poverty? And how much is that goal a consideration when devising these types of social programs?” Another question to which there is not an easy, straightforward kind of answer. Part of it is, well, what do we mean by stimulating the economy? If we meant make more jobs available to more people who wanted them and have those jobs pay wages that made it possible for them to care for their families and have those jobs structured in such a way that they could care for their children that they have time off to go to the doctors if they had health insurance and that they were able to save for retirement. If we could do something that would result in that, we know that that would reduce poverty. It’s the number of people who work full-time who are poor is relatively low when we look across those patterns. But the challenge is then how do you go about doing that? And there are all kinds of people who would give you all kinds of different answers for what that looks like. I can say that there are programs that are designed both to have individual-level economic effects and to have so-called macro effects in the economy. And Food Stamps, SNAP, is one of those programs. It functions counter cyclically, to use that phrase. And all that means is that because Food Stamps is an entitlement program, if you meet the qualifications of the requirements, the rules of those programs – and as we’ve talked, those can be sometimes pretty tough. If you meet the rules of the program, you can have those benefits, regardless of how many other people are also qualified for those benefits. So for example, if we think back to the Great Recession recently, as the economy collapsed, as unemployment grew, as more and more people found themselves out of work and unable to meet basic needs, they were able to apply for Food Stamps and increase their household income and reduce their poverty. But because that program functioned automatically, what it also meant was that during a period of recession, we were also pumping money into the economy. If you think about you give a low-income household $10 in Food Stamps, that money gets spent instantly. And they go out and they buy bread, eggs and milk. Well, all of the people who then grow the grain for the bread have jobs. And the people who make the plastic wrapper and the little twisty tie, and the people who drive the trucks, and the people who put fuel in the trucks, and people who repair the trucks, and the people who put tires on the trucks – when people are out buying things, that has positive overall effects. And that can actually wind up reducing unemployment for how long that recession lasts. So there are, in fact, programs that do that kind of work, that really do have positive effects both at the individual or the family level and at that larger kind of economic level. Yeah, fascinating topic and I’m sure we could do maybe a whole session on just that alone. Joe asks a question, and I’ll see if you have an immediate response; but we can certainly provide more details later. He’s curious to know what you think are some good books to read on U.S. welfare policy. Oh, dear, well I think the place to start is always – now, it’s not dated but a slightly older book. It’s by Michael Katz, K-a-t-z, who is a historian actually at University of Pennsylvania, who died recently, called In the Shadow of the Poorhouse. And it’s a history of American social welfare policy and still, I think, go-to book for social welfare histories. It will offer you a really terrific overview of the topic. And then there are 8,415 other things that I could recommend in no particular order, depending on what your particular interests are. But I think that’s a lovely place to start if you want to get a little of that history under your belt. Terrific. And speaking of history, Kat asks: Has the VISTA program had a net positive or negative effect on poverty? Since the window we’ve been talking about is like 1965 until now, and we’ve seen an increase in the actual poverty rate during that time, what do you think about VISTA? Well, you might be able to answer this question better than I can, Andy. I know that there have been a number of fairly recent efforts to answer just that question looking at the history – not just of VISTA, but the AmeriCorps program more broadly – to try to quantify those effects. I don’t know that research all that well. I’m wondering if you do better than I do at this point. Sure, well, what I can say is that it’s incredibly difficult for us to measure because as we know, VISTAs are out there building capacity in organizations and in communities rather than serving individual residents or families or individuals. We do have some data. We’ve put into place some standard performance measures. And we do ask every VISTA project to report on the types of capacity-building activities and results that their VISTA members are accomplishing. And there have been some really great examples that have shown very clearly the impact that a VISTA project and a handful of VISTA members – or, as the project grows, the dozens of VISTA members — who are involved. And the one that I’ll reference here in the state of Ohio, some – I don’t know – 8 or 10 years ago maybe an organization called the Ohio Association of Foodbanks started what they call the Benefits Bank program. It’s a one-stop shop, so low-income individuals and families who are seeking assistance have one place to call. And there are trained volunteers who answer those phones and help walk them through the process of whether it’s heating assistance or rental subsidy or SNAP or any other benefit that that individual might qualify for. And they have walk-in services and all of these things. And when they started – I’ll stay it was eight years ago – they were in one location in one county in Ohio. And right away, they applied to the VISTA program; got a VISTA member. After a year or two, they applied to get more VISTAs. And over the course of that relatively short period of time, they’re now in all 88 counties in Ohio. We’d have to go to see how many individuals have been served by the Benefits Bank and how many of them have been moved into programs that are raising them up out of poverty. So we can’t take full credit for all of those individuals. But certainly, just the VISTA program had a really key role in building that capacity and expanding and taking that program to scale. And the Executive Director of that organization has said many times, “Without the VISTA program, we would not be here. We might be in two or three counties, but we would not be covering the state.” So that’s just one example and, like so many of these questions, hard to give a definitive short answer. And there are thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands perhaps, of stories just like that. Back when I was in New York City running Food and Hunger hotline, I have a few of those stories myself, programs that never would have existed had we not had AmeriCorps and VISTA volunteers at the time. But also the thing that’s even harder to quantify is if there is something that is transformative at an individual level of the VISTA experience – and VISTAs after their service go off into the world, and they do things to make the world a better place that they might not have done otherwise – how on earth do you measure that? And there’s no doubt in my mind that that’s the sort of thing that’s happening all the time. I don’t know what a research project would look like that would try to get at that. Yeah, it’s a tough question. And we’ve certainly wrestled with it here because we’re always trying to tell the story of the VISTA program or the AmeriCorps program and wondering how much credit can we claim. What portion of the result can we attribute to our efforts or the efforts of the VISTA members versus other things that were already happening or might have otherwise happened – so tough. More great questions, and unfortunately we’re not going to be able to get to all of them. But I’m going to move through as many of them as I can. Joe asks: How did Welfare reform back in the 1990s affect poverty? Was TANF’s predecessor more effective, or is there no real difference today? I think the consensus among researchers is absolutely that the post-reform TANF program is significantly less effective at reducing poverty than the AFTC program that preceded it. Speaking of books, there is an extraordinary book by Kathryn Edin and Luke Shaefer. And I apologize; I can’t remember the name of it off the top of my head. It’s come out in the last 12 months that looks specifically – it’s called $2.00 a Day. It is specifically looking at the number of Americans who are living in deep poverty. This is a fascinating and very deeply researched book. And the claim that they make at any rate is that can trace the rise in very deep poverty, extreme poverty, what in a previous age we would have referred to as Third World poverty, directly to the so-called reforms of the 1990s. But it’s a much smaller program, reaching fewer people with lower benefit levels. So even in the crudest kind of way, there is less money that is going into low-income households with children. All right, here’s another question: Is poverty correlated to racial disparities? And if so, how does the current social welfare program tackle poverty from a race-based perspective? Well, the first question is much easier to answer than the second one. There is clear correlation with poverty rates by race. And consistently, the overall poverty rate for the SBN was 15%, give or take. The overall rate if we separate out just non-Hispanic Whites, which is the Census category, was 9%. If we look at the rate for Hispanic Americans and African Americans, the rate is 26%, 27%, 28%. And those patterns are consistent. We can see them going all the way back to when we start to get decent data, in the 1960s, all the way through the present. We also, by the way, see those outcomes vary across not just poverty measures but all kinds of social, economic and health indicators. All health equal, African Americans can consistently be counted on to fare worst, with Hispanic and Latino Americans coming in second, then non-Hispanic White Americans. Why that is and how we explain that gets into sort of a whole long list of multidimensional cause and effect factors, which is another fascinating topic for a full webinar but not something I think I want to try to do in 30 or 60 seconds. Sure, absolutely, and we are approaching the end of our time here. So unfortunately, we’ll have to leave it there with the Q&A and the great conversation we’ve been having with you, Stephen. While we’re wrapping up, I do want to thank everyone for participating today and invite you to our next webinar. And that’s about applying for Federal jobs using your non-competitive eligibility status. It’s coming up on March 10, 2016, at the same time here, at 2:00 p.m. Eastern. You’ll be receiving an e-mail with an invitation to join that session. Of course you can find all of our webinars, both those coming up and those that we’ve already presented and recorded, on the VISTA Campus. And I want to take a moment just to thank you, Dr. Stephen Pimpare, for the wealth of information that you shared with us today and for all of your support over the years for the VISTA program. I also want to thank our producers – Education Northwest and JBS International, Sam Graziani and Bethany Dusablon, for their support for today’s session. Here, here. And thank you all for joining us. Thank you, everybody. Thank you, Andy, thank you so much. It was a real pleasure. And thanks for your engagement and thanks for your service. Keep at it.

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