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SPEA Paper On Behalf Of TV Host Smiley Leads To Panel Talk

The white paper shows the nationwide recession has multiplied the number of poor Americans.

Tavis Smiley

Photo: Shameka Neely/WTIU News

Tavis Smiley is a SPEA alum and will highlight the paper's findings with a nationally televised discussion.

A report commissioned by Indiana University alumnus Tavis Smiley and authored by IU’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs focuses on the growing number of American’s living in poverty.

The report focuses on how the recession has affected the size, composition, and rate of growth of America’s poor.  It also addresses safety-net programs and policies which could potentially lower the impact of the recession on the poor. Report co-author and SPEA professor Kristen Seefeldt, says even though the recession has subsided, almost one of every seven Americans is considered poor.

“Poverty has continued to go up,” Seefeldt says. “We now have a record number of just over 46 million Americans who are classified as poor.  A little over 15 percent of the U.S. population.  And, this figure is expected to increase even after we really enter into a real recovery.”

The white paper comes only a day before Smiley plans to gather a panel of advocates for his agenda, titled “Remaking America: From Poverty to Prosperity.” According to Smiley, the panel has three primary goals.

“We want to have a conversation about how poverty can become a priority in this nation, number two, how we can come up with a plan not just to reduce but to eradicate poverty, and three, how our leaders can layout a path forward for the American people.  So, I call them the three P’s,” Smiley says.

The panel will include Princeton University professor Cornell West, filmmaker Michael Moore, personal finance consultant Suze Orman and author Barbara Ehrenreich, among others.

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