Mike Huckabee talks kids with ECM in Iowa

Presidential Candidate and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee called on ECM for a question during a meet-and-greet gathering at Pizza Ranch in Cedar Rapids, IA on Thursday and articulated a nuanced reply on the issue of childhood poverty.

When I asked what he would do to support children and address the issue of childhood poverty and the need for high-quality, affordable childcare, the Republican hopeful reminisced about his own experience growing up in a poor family, saying, “ I get it,” and,“Nobody wants to be poor who’s poor.”

Huckabee made clear his view that promoting “stable families” is the best way to keep children from living in poverty. “We’ve got to be honest with the American people to say, marriage is a good thing, fidelity in marriage is even a better thing, and raising kids in the context of a loving home where parents work hard, this really is how we live the American dream.”

Huckabee also spoke to what low-income family advocates call the cliff effect. This happens when a family’s earnings increase above eligibility levels for assistance, causing them to lose benefits while still struggling to make ends meet.  Huckabee recognized that “there are a lot of really hard working women who’d have liked to be taking care of their families independently, but they can’t because if they earn the money in the only jobs they’re qualified for, it puts them just over that threshold that means their children lose health care, housing assistance, food on the table, and education benefits.”  He asked, “Why do we punish somebody for trying hard? This is wrong.”

Huckabee recognized the need for safety net programs such as SNAP and Medicaid, both of which he administered during his time as Governor of Arkansas. He believes these are necessary “as a transition point to get people to become independent.”

As more candidates enter the race, we at ECM look forward to enhancing dialogue about federal policies affecting children and opportunities for children, as well as about how presidential contenders say they will support kids in working families.