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New York Times: Children in Poverty - There Is No Excuse

To the Editor:

'Poverty Is Poison,' by Paul Krugman (column, Feb. 18), echoes what members of Congress heard at a national summit meeting about child development that Democrats convened last year. Children who grow up in poverty have a much lower chance of success in school and in life, but investments in early childhood development help to even the odds, offering hope and opportunity where little existed before.

The despair that poverty brings to millions of American children compels us to take a serious and sustained national approach. Last year's bipartisan revamping of the Head Start program to focus on early intervention was huge progress; now we need to do the hard work of making sure this important initiative is financed.

Other solutions can be found in our tax policy -- we can reward parents struggling to lift their families out of poverty.

Democrats insisted that the recent economic stimulus package include rebate checks for 35 million families who work but earn too little to pay federal income tax, and we included additional benefits for families with children. The approach of these recovery rebates is similar to that of the Earned Income Tax Credit, which is widely recognized as one of America's most effective anti-poverty policies.

Poverty is indeed poison -- to the children who fall prey to it, and to the future strength of our nation. With a singularity of purpose, America can develop an antidote.

Nancy Pelosi


Speaker of the House


Washington