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Friday, September 21, 2018

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Poverty: America’s National Emergency

The Cunningham Administration firmly believes that poverty has prevented many Americans from achieving their version of the American Dream, and will treat poverty as one of the central issues of our time. The 2016 U.S. Census reported that over 12% of Americans lived in poverty, and more than 43 million men, women, and children are struggling to secure the basic necessities to survive.[1] Caused by unemployment, underemployment, public policy, and a host of other factors, the harsh reality is that too many American families live in poverty.

U.S. policies put in place by the current administration are dramatically changing the lives of millions, and not for the better. The new tax reform package will significantly increase the already high level of wealth and income disparity between the wealthiest 1% and the poorest 50% of Americans. In addition to this tax reform, the slashing of social welfare program funding has contributed to increasing levels of poverty across the U.S. This not what our Founding Fathers wanted.  The Cunningham Administration will put people first, and bolster the country’s underfunded social services. The administration will challenge this growing divide between the haves and the have-nots, and pledges to end poverty in the wealthiest 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

Poverty in America

Cunningham recognizes the insidiousness of poverty, and the national emergency it is that so many Americans live under its pall. Only 70% of children who grow up in poverty manage to finish high school, and men and women who do not complete high school are seven times more likely to remain poor than those who do. Impoverished Americans are more likely than affluent Americans to suffer from depression, obesity, and a wide range of other serious illnesses. Consequently, with an increased probability of depression comes an increased risk of drug or alcohol addiction: Those living below the poverty line use illicit opioids at a higher rate than the rest of the country.  To further compound this vulnerability, the impoverished population has reduced access to quality health care for treatment of illnesses. Finally, Poor Americans are typically 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 and access to credit almost impossible. In short, poverty both shortens lives and increases human suffering.

Additionally, by cutting the funding to welfare services, the current administration has further lowered the quality of life for the impoverished population. Shrinking health care services, the cessation of free lunch programs, and lack of affordable housing options are just a few examples of the waning support for the the destitute. Overlooking those who suffer from the scourge of poverty and denying this echelon of society the ability to live a decent life presents dire implications for the future of American society. Moreover, this divide is dangerous for all American citizens, and ultimately untenable. Cunningham supports everyone’s right to a secure life, health care, food, and a home; the proverbial “American Dream.”

Poverty, Racism & Sexism

Poverty disproportionately affects women and minorities. 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; black Americans and Native Americans more than twice as likely. 70% of the nation’s poor are women and children. Women in America are 35% more likely than men to be poor, with single mothers facing the highest risk. Currently, 35% of single women with children live and raise their families in poverty.[2]

The Problem of Poverty Can Be Solved Today

To achieve American exceptionalism, we must address our societal issues head-on. The nature of poverty is that it is incredibly difficult to escape. Those born into poverty are faced with a more difficult journey to success, and providing people in this situation with appropriate legislation and social services that assist them in carving a better path in life is imperative, both to the Cunningham Administration, and to the country as a whole. Cunningham will address excessive federal expenditure, education reform, healthcare, tax law, social programs and racism in order to combat poverty and address its root causes.

Once in office, Cunningham will redirect resources away from wasteful programs that do not benefit Americans. Approved by the current administration, the U.S. will spend $1.7 trillion [3] to expand a nuclear arsenal that is an excessive use of taxpayer money. A portion of these funds will be redirected to address poverty on a national level. As long as America’s military might remains unrivaled, using the defense budget excess to assist Americans who struggle to make ends meet via social programs would be ideal.

The Cunningham Administration also believes the new tax rates for America’s wealthiest individuals and corporations are bad for the country as a whole. As affluent individuals and corporations benefit from the current tax cuts, our nation is experiencing social insecurity due to increased levels of poverty. Through legislation of a single-payer healthcare system, and 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. No other form of federal investment has proven as effective in bringing Americans out of poverty and into the middle class as quality public education. On average, public schools spend $1,200 less per student in poor districts than rich ones, only furthering the gap between 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.

In addition to substantial educational reform, the administration plans to invest in clinics that offer free preventive care, prenatal care, and addiction services, as the United States currently ranks last in maternal mortality rates among developed nations, and an opioid crisis has our country in an emergency state.

Additionally, 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 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, 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. To address incarceration linked to poverty and lack of employment, the Cunningham Administration will collaborate with prosecutors to end discriminatory sentencing and for-profit prison programs. The Cunningham Administration is 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

 

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