The Common Good

Politically Diverse Christian Leaders Offer Concrete Policy Recommendations on Poverty Reduction

Source: Sojourners
Date: February 17, 2009

Loredana Vuoto, The Clapham Group, (202) 492-4580,

Jason Gedeik, Sojourners, (202) 230-2555,

Politically Diverse Christian Leaders Offer Concrete Policy Recommendations on Poverty Reduction

"Non-Partisan Approach & Bi-Partisan Solutions Represents New Model to Achieving Common Ground

WASHINGTON, DC - February 17, 2009 - The Poverty Forum, a group of 18 politically diverse leaders with expertise in poverty initiatives and policy reform, today released a set of policy recommendations aimed at dramatically reducing domestic poverty. Co-chaired by Mike Gerson, senior fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations and former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, and Rev. Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners, this policy platform represents a nonpartisan initiative where leaders from government, community, faith-based and grassroots organizations worked together to find common-ground solutions.

This initiative comes at a critical time when experts are predicting that an additional nine million Americans will fall into poverty due to the current economic recession. These policy proposals cover seven key areas addressing poverty reduction that include family policy, health care, education, asset building, strengthening civil society, "making work work” and community factors (crime and re-entry). This group will work with the new administration and Congress to ensure these recommendations are considered as the long-term work begins for economic recovery.

"The Poverty Forum has developed a series of strong, innovative, concrete policy recommendations,” said Mr. Gerson. "These policies have the potential to significantly reduce domestic poverty and alleviate the plight of the poor. The value of these plans comes from not only the diversity of the group in ideology and expertise, but the spirit of collaboration and open-dialogue that went into producing them.”

While spanning the political spectrum, these leaders share core biblical values for God's concern for the poor and the biblical imperative to address poverty. Each policy expert worked in teams with someone of a divergent political perspective to identify practical policy recommendations in their given area. The proposals were then discussed and vetted by the broader group. Proposals range from expanding individual development accounts and creating life time savings accounts to fully funding the Second Chance Act and eliminating the marriage penalty within the earned income tax credit.

"The current economic crisis requires a renewal of political will and creative solutions to address the growing emergency of domestic poverty,” said Rev. Wallis. "I believe this initiative will serve as an example to Congress and the administration of the power and potential of bi-partisan collaboration and consensus. We share the belief that combating poverty and strengthening our economy are not mutually exclusive but complementary goals.”


-- Co-Chair: Jim Wallis, President, Sojourners

-- Co-Chair: Mike Gerson, Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations

-- Facilitator: Mark Rodgers, Principal, The Clapham Group

-- Facilitator: Adam Taylor, Senior Policy Director, Sojourners

Family Policy

  • John Cusey, Former Special Assistant to Wade Horn, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Kathy Edin, Professor at the Kennedy School of Government

Health Care

  • Kathy Saile, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
  • Jim Capretta, Fellow in the Economics and Ethics Program of the Ethics and Public Policy Center


  • Dr. Robert Franklin, President, Morehouse College.
  • Terrell Halaska, Former Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs, U.S. Dept. of Education

Asset Building

  • Mary Nelson, Founder, Bethel New Life
  • Randy Brandt, U.S. Department of State

Strengthening Civil Society

  • Melissa Rogers, Director of the Wake Forest University School of Divinity Center for Religion and Public Affairs
  • Stanley Carlson-Thies, President, Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance

"Making Work Work”

  • Ron Sider , Evangelicals for Social Action
  • Chuck Donovan, Executive Vice President, Family Research Council

Community Factors (i.e. Crime and Re-Entry)

  • Angela Blackwell, Executive Director of Policy Link
  • Brent Orrell, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor, The Employment and Training Administration

Please visit to access the full policy report and further information on this initiative. An audio recording of the press conference can also be accessed on the website.