Electing to Ignore the Poorest of the Poor

16 Million Americans Below 50% of Poverty Line

Electing to Ignore the Poorest of the PoorIn his November 17, 2015 New York Times piece, “Electing to Ignore Poorest of the Poor,” Eduardo Porter writes about the presidential election season, “… Both parties, focusing most of their concern on the middle class, appear to be ignoring the Americans who need their attention most: the deeply, persistently poor.”

The very poorest among us in the United States make up a significant proportion of the population – almost 1 in 20 Americans.

“Even after accounting for every government assistance program — housing subsidies, food stamps, help with the electricity bill — nearly 16 million Americans still fall below 50 percent of the poverty line, measured by the Census Bureau’s revamped poverty measure that includes the effect of government support. That translates to roughly $8.60 per person per day for a family of four. That group is six million people larger than half a century ago.”

Yet the very poor remain unrepresented and unorganized politically. And poor and unemployed single-parent households have been left behind. Conservative and progressive experts each have their opinions on what has resulted in an “American antipoverty strategy, so focused on choosing between good and bad guys, those worthy or unworthy of public assistance …”

And “ … While the experts talk, 20 states run by Republican governors are still refusing to expand Medicaid, as offered under the Affordable Care Act, blocking the access of many poor Americans to medical care.”

In New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie in June 2013, signed a state budget that includes $227 million for Medicaid expansion in the state. However, he vetoed legislation that would have made the expansion permanent in the state.

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