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The Brookings Institution, a left-leaning nonprofit research group, found that a $9-per-hour minimum wage would raise the earnings of low-income households by only 7 percent, from an average of $11,047 to $11,828 a year. Ms. Black said expansion of the earned income tax credit is a more effective solution targeted at low-income families and “creates a strong incentive to work and increase earnings.”

While Mr. Obama is relatively reluctant to talk about poverty, some polling suggests that the public doesn’t want to hear about it, either.

A Wall Street Journal/NBC poll in June found that 24 percent of respondents — the largest share — said the biggest reason for poverty is “too much government welfare that prevents initiative.”

The survey offered a list of eight factors and asked respondents to choose the one they thought was most responsible for continuing poverty. The second most popular answer was “lack of job opportunities,” at 18 percent. “Lack of good educational opportunities” and “breakdown of families” were tied for third at 13 percent each. They were followed in descending order by “lack of work ethic,” “lack of government funding,” “drugs” and “racial discrimination.”