The persistence of poverty in certain regions and communities across the country and within North Carolina has long held back the broader economy from performing at full capacity and delivering the greatest benefit to the most people. In North Carolina, there are still 10 counties where poverty rates have remained above 20 percent for more than three decades.
That is why the emerging bipartisan consensus on setting a reasonable target to direct federal funds to these communities is encouraging. The plan states that at least 10 percent of a federal program’s funds should go to counties where at least 20 percent of the population has lived in poverty for at least 30 years. In the upcoming months, there may be several opportunities for the plan to be incorporated into the guidelines for funding the federal government. In the meantime, from this Politico article, it is clear that a broad swath of the country could stand to benefit and that those affected by persistent poverty are diverse.
Nearly 500 counties across the United States suffer from the kind of persistent poverty that would make them eligible for the plan’s targeted funding, [Representative] Clyburn says — and it would give more Republican lawmakers something to brag about to constituents than Democrats. In 2009, Clyburn likes to note, 84 Republicans represented those counties, compared with 43 Democrats. The GOP held 311 counties and Democrats represented 149. (In terms of total population, the parties were more evenly split, with Republicans representing 8.3 million people from those counties and Democrats representing 8.8 million; another 14 counties with 5.3 million people were split between Republicans and Democrats.)