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Poverty is America’s National Emergency

Hart Cunningham believes all Americans deserve a fair shot at achieving their dreams, and so his administration will treat poverty as one of the central issues of our time. As of 2016, the US Census tells of a gripping truth, that over 12% of Americans lived in poverty—that is more than 43 million men, women, and children who are struggling to secure the basics of life.[1] The reality caused by unemployment, underemployment, and other factors, is that too many American families live in poverty.  No matter how complicated poverty in America is, we face a national emergency. The Cunningham administration challenges the growing divide between those who have and have not and will end poverty in the wealthiest, high tech nation on earth.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

                                              The Declaration of Independence – In Congress 1776

US policies instigated by the current administration relating to inequality and extreme poverty are creating a dramatic change of direction affecting millions of citizens. The new tax reform package they have passed will significantly increase the already high levels of wealth and income disparities between the wealthiest 1% and the poorest 50% of Americans. Already there are people barely existing, living on skid row in major urban areas. Even at the lowest level of society in San Francisco, one of the most prosperous cities on earth, the homeless asked to move off of sidewalk with nowhere to go. How can we allow this inhumanity exist, much less, how can an ethical, humane person allow such a draconian social malaise continue. The greed and slashing of deemed “entitlement” social programs, is not what our founders of America wanted.  The Cunningham administration puts people first and will bring logic to this spiraling madness in our underfunded social services.

Our most significant asset, the people

To achieve American exceptionalism we must embrace our social issues. Poverty, now so deep-rooted in our society, in certain cases, successive generations live in extreme poverty. People are living in McDonald’s parking lots, or nearby in cars. People are sleeping on Catholic Church benches. But instead of realizing its founders’ admirable commitments, today we in the United States have proven to be exceptional in far more problematic ways that are shockingly at odds with its immense wealth and its founding commitment to human rights.

The social implications of this great divide are immense and one of the primary causes of lower life expectancy rates across the board. From lower education to health care for those struggling to eat, is not a priority when hunger presides. With the end of free lunch programs to children in need, how can we expect them to learn anything but anger? Moreover, the unconsidered truth, those who have not must fight to survive, this situation is dangerous for all citizens and untenable.  However, the homeless are not there by choice, in Hart Cunningham’s visits with the homeless express a great desire to have a secure life, health care, food, and a home, the proverbial “American Dream.”

Though the poverty line varies with geographical location, a typical American family of two adults and two children is in poverty if it earns less than about $25k, which is insufficient to meet the costs of living in many parts of the United States. Worse still, the number of poor Americans living in what the US Census calls “severe poverty”—households earning less than half the poverty line—has increased by more than 10% over the past twenty years. Perhaps worst of all, 20% of American children today live in poverty.

Hart Cunningham recognizes that so many Americans living poverty is a national emergency because the effects of poverty are extraordinarily wide-ranging. Only 70% of children who grow up in poverty manage to finish high school, but men and women who do not complete high school are at least seven times as likely to remain poor as those who do finish high school. Poor Americans are more likely to suffer from depression, obesity, and a wide-range of other serious illnesses than Americans that are more affluent are. With that increased risk of depression comes an increased risk of addiction to alcohol and opiates: those living below the poverty line use illicit opioids at a higher rate than the rest of the country.  In addition, the poor has reduced access to quality health care for treatment of illnesses; hundreds of thousands of Americans lack reliable access to safe water. In short, poverty both shortens lives and increases human suffering.

The Cunningham administration believes the federal government should assist these Americans because, unfortunately, it is complicated for even the hardest working people to lift themselves out of poverty. Poor Americans, forced to pay more for essential services—many are too poor to afford a bank account, which makes paying bills and cashing checks far costlier. Further, many poor Americans must exorbitant sums to access credit, locking them even more to the shackles of poverty. The poor pay more for credit than do the wealthy.

Additionally, the problems of poverty inextricably link to America’s legacy of racial injustice: for centuries, minorities in America have lived in poverty at higher rates than the rest of the country. Presently, minorities are more likely to live in poverty than white Americans, blacks and Native Americans more than twice as likely. 70% of the Nation’s Poor are Women & Children. Women in America are still 35 percent more likely than men to be poor in America, with single mothers facing the highest risk. Currently, 35 percent of single women with children live and raise their families in poverty. [2] It is clear that the issue of poverty concerns more than just dollars and cents—poverty affects all aspects of society. Further, Hart Cunningham believes that solving the problems leading to poverty is of increasing urgency because the costs of living are rising while wages remain stagnant. As a result, more and more families are feeling the strain of poverty, more Americans face homelessness, and more and more American families are forced to make impossible choices: between, health care, nutrition and even keeping their children with them. The Cunningham administration will treat this problem as the national emergency it is.

The Problem of Poverty Can Be Solved Today

Because Hart Cunningham wants to give all Americans a chance to realize their full potential, his administration will be committed to the belief that no American should live in poverty. When in office, Hart Cunningham will redirect resources away from wasteful programs that do not benefit Americans. Approved by the current administration the US will spend 1.7 trillion [3] to expand a nuclear arsenal that is excessive use of taxpayer’s money; some of these funds can address poverty on a national level. As long as America is military might remain unrivaled, a better use of defense budget helping Americans who struggle to make ends meet in social programs that solve poverty.

The Cunningham administration believes the new tax rates for America’s wealthiest individuals and corporation is bad for the country. As the affluent and corporations become more prosperous with the further tax cuts, our nation is becoming less stable within our borders with increased poverty. Through legislation of a single-payer health care system, plus increased funding to the WIC, the ACA, and other programs that assist the poor we will stabilize the nation and begin to realize prosperity for all.

The Cunningham administration is also committed to increasing public spending on education, for no other form of federal investment has proven as effective at bringing Americans out of poverty and into the middle class through quality public education. Presently, the United States is missing a chance to invest in children who live in poverty: on average, public schools spend $1,200 less per student in poor districts than in rich ones. Doing so further reinforces the gap between the rich and poor, The Cunningham administration will direct more funds to school districts that serve poor communities. When all American children have quality public education, regardless of their parents’ income, the nation as a whole will benefit. Increased investment in public education and public assistance programs will be just two parts of the Cunningham administration, fight against poverty. In addition to substantial education reform, the plan is to invest in increased numbers of clinics that offer free, preventive care, prenatal care and addiction services. Doing so is an urgent need because the United States currently ranks last in maternal mortality rates among developed nations. In addition, the opioid crisis has our country is in an emergency state and needs strong leadership direction. Time

All Americans need a guaranteed basic income regardless of their ability to work. While this idea may seem radical, its implementation would bring America closer to realizing Dr. Martin Luther King’s vision of a society in which all citizens can obtain justice and prosperity. Indeed, convinced that any combination of indirect approaches to addressing poverty would necessarily prove inadequate, Dr. King began advocating the establishment of a guaranteed basic income in the 1960s. To do so “is not only moral,” he wrote, “it is also intelligent.” As he concluded, “The curse of poverty has no justification in our age…The time has come for us to civilize ourselves by the total, direct and immediate abolition of poverty.” [4]

Finally, Hart Cunningham realizes you cannot fight economic inequality without challenging racial bias. Because white job applicants presently receive more callbacks than black job applicants do, the Cunningham administration will increase enforcement of America’s employment discrimination laws. Incarceration linked to poverty and lack of jobs, the Hart Cunningham administration will pressure prosecutors to end discriminatory sentencing and for-profit prison programs. Hart Cunningham recognizes that the fight to narrow the income gap will be won by addressing discrimination and closing the inequality gap. These means and others commit the Hart Cunningham administration committed to delivering prosperity and security to all Americans because no man, woman or child should live in poverty.


[1] census.gov

[2] legalmomentum.org

[3] armscontrol.org

[4] King, Martin Luther, Jr. Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? Boston: Beacon Press, 1967. Print