Lost in the overdose of GOP tax bill coverage was a sad and frankly stunning report on poverty in America. Believe it or not, yes, the United Nations is studying poverty HERE! We’re not talking about Haiti or some distant, far flung corner of Africa. There’s plenty of poverty in America, and according to the report, the new tax bill is only going to make it worse.While the Republicans back slap each other this afternoon with visions of dollar signs dancing in their heads, the poor in this country are about to be worse off, so says Philip Alston, the Special Rapporteur to the United Nations Human Rights Council.
“While most other nations, and all of the major international institutions…have acknowledged that extreme inequalities in wealth and income are economically inefficient and socially damaging, the tax reform package is essentially a bid to make the U.S. the world champion of extreme inequality,” Alston wrote.
And that’s because this trillion dollar tax plan will be paid for by cuts in Social Security, Medicare, and welfare programs. In other words the poor are about to be poorer. The income inequality gap is about to become wider, and it will continue to severely undermine the very fabric of American democracy. The American dream, says Alston, is rapidly becoming the American illusion.
There are now 41 million people living in poverty in America, and one third of those are kids. “A shockingly high number of children in the U.S. live in poverty. In 2016, 18 percent of children—some 13.3 million—were living in poverty, with children comprising 32.6 percent of all people in poverty,” Alston reported. What does that say about us as a country that we are willing to cut the safety net for millions of children?
But Donald Trump will celebrate today, as will Wall Street and no doubt champagne will flow in corporate board rooms too. But the truth is only half of American families own stock today. A decade ago it was two-thirds. And the decline was biggest among lower income Americans. But perhaps more importantly is the notion that inequality also mean separation. Americans of different classes don’t know each other anymore, don’t live together or socialize. That inequality is unnecessary. Just reads the words of the last president who said it so eloquently:
“And at the heart of the American ideal is this sense that we’re in it together, that nobody is guaranteed success but everybody has got access to the possibilities of success, and that we are willing to work not just to make sure our own children have pathways to success but that everybody does; that at some level, everybody is our kid, everybody is our responsibility. We are going to give back to everybody. And we do that because it’s the right thing to do, and we do it because, selfishly, that’s how this country is going to advance and everybody is going to be better off.” –Barack Obama Dec. 4, 2014
Read the full preliminary report here: