From this Wednesday's Politics Nation, the Rev. Al Sharpton did a good job of pointing out the fact that our political class in Washington doesn't seem to be too terribly concerned with poverty, or the plight of the working poor in the United States. He went after the Senate for the $4.5 billion in cuts to SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) in the farm bill, and for voting against Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's amendment which would have removed the cuts, which went down by a vote of 33 to 66 earlier this week.
Sharpton also did a great job talking about the record income disparity and the fact that we're slashing our social safety nets while the wealthiest among us get one tax cuts, one after another.
There is one point he missed, though. The real welfare recipients in the United States are not the poor. It's companies like Walmart who refuse to pay their employees a living wage and will happily allow the American taxpayer to make up the difference by having their workers receive benefits such as SNAP and Medicaid.
As my fellow contributor here at C&L Jill Klausen pointed out in her Winning Words Project, it's time someone asked these United States Senators, who just voted to reduce funding for the SNAP program, the right question:
While our nation still reels from the economic crisis brought on by irresponsible Republican fiscal policies that saw millions of jobs being lost, the middle class being decimated, and a nearly unprecedented rise in poverty rates (only the Great Depression rivals it), our elected Representatives in the United States Senate have voted to reduce funding for the only source of sustenance for millions of impoverished Americans: Food Stamps.
Lots and lots of good stuff there so please go read the rest, but here was Jill's question for our Senators:
When will Republicans in Congress take up legislation that imposes severe fines on mulit-billion dollar corporations who line their pockets at the expense of taxpayers by refusing to pay their employees a 2012 wage and use government programs to supplement their payrolls?
The answer is probably never unless we get the money out of politics, which tragically our Supreme Court took us backwards on with their Citizens United ruling. But our politicians do respond to public pressure occasionally if there's enough of it. It would be nice to see some momentum build to push them to force companies to pay a living wage and to get executive pay back in line with the wages of the average worker. More segments like the one from Sharpton above would be helpful as well, instead of your typical segment at Fox where they're demonizing the poor and labor unions.
Transcript of the video above below the fold: