The big idea is to help people quickly.
The Obama administration wants to spend $2 billion testing new approaches to fighting poverty, with a particular focus on catching people before they fall into crisis rather than trying to put them back on their feet afterward.
The president's budget, which will be officially released in early February, calls for creating a new Emergency Aid and Service Connection. The main goal would be to find ways of helping families who face immediate, potentially crippling financial crises -- like a car breaking down with no money for repairs or an extended absence from work because of illness.
Instead of waiting for these people to exhaust all resources, certifying their poverty with extensive paperwork and then providing them with assistance through programs like food stamps, the idea would be to assist them with quick short-term aid -- before one crisis leads to many others -- or connect them with programs that, over the long term, can help stabilize their incomes.