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Families gather food at a food pantry for those in need at the Streets of Destiny Church in Phoenix, Arizona. - 


SCOTT JAGOW: What is poverty? Well, the federal government says it's a family of four making less than $20,000 a year. The latest statistics say 37 million people are in that boat. Today a research group unveils some ideas for getting them out of it. Nancy Marshall Genzer reports.

NANCY MARSHALL GENZER: The Center for American Progress has a strategy to cut poverty in half in a decade. The group wants more child care subsides and tax credits for the poor.

Mark Greenberg heads the Center's poverty task force. He says the group also wants Congress to raise the minimum wage.

MARK GREENBERG: A quarter of jobs in the U.S. economy do not pay enough to allow a family of four to live above the poverty line.

Independent experts believe the group's plan would cost the government $90 billion a year.

Douglas Basharov of the American Enterprise Institute says Congress might want to use that money for middle-class tax breaks.

DOUGLAS BASHAROV: When did poor people ever win when they were competing against the middle class for some kind of help from the government?

But the Center for American Progress says if Congress dismantled President Bush's tax cuts for wealthy Americans, there would be plenty of money for the poor and middle class.

In Washington, I'm Nancy Marshall Genzer for Marketplace.