Federal Asset-Building Programs Continue to Favor Wealthy

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Dave Zuckerman
Missed opportunity to help less well-off Americans build wealth

Copyright New American
Foundation 2012

In its Assets Report 2012, the New America Foundation calculates that more than half a trillion dollars is allocated in the U.S. FY 2013 federal budget through direct spending programs and tax provisions to encourage savings and asset-building. Of that sum, only a small fraction helps those who need it the most, low- and moderate-income Americans.

As Reid Cramer, Rachel Black, and Justin King at the New America Foundation note, this is a lost opportunity:

This approach misses the potential of assets to help chart a path out of poverty. If we are to broaden savings and asset ownership successfully—giving everyone a stake in the common-wealth—we must understand how the federal government’s current policy paradigm affects asset building among low- and moderate-income Americans.

The full report examines the current programs that provide individuals and families asset-building opportunities and suggests specific policy recommendations that would begin to shift this focus on asset-building to low- and moderate-income Americans. Some of their ideas include creating a universal 401k system, expanding the availability of credit for small business through greater support for community banking and implementing the Saver’s Bonus.

Additionally, the New America Foundation provides a handy The Assets Report Infographic that breaks down how the $550 billion dollars is allocated, shows which demographic groups have been most impacted by the recent recession and illustrates who benefits most from these asset-building provisions.