In 2014, 46.7 million people in the United States were in poverty. This number included 15.5 million children under the age of 18, and 4.6 million seniors 65 and older were in poverty. This number seems to keep growing, and citizens are turning to the government to stop it. The rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer, and the middle class has all but dissolved. Democratic views on poverty begin with aiding those in immediate need, and extend to rebuilding the economy to reduce poverty levels. Democrats believe in partnering with faith-based organizations, who already have programs established to help the needy. They believe in rebuilding the middle class, sealing the gap between the 99 percent and the 1 percent. This, they propose, is done by reforming tax structures on the upper class and focusing on job creation and benefits to get the middle and lower classes back on their feet. From there, they hope to focus on keeping jobs and industries within the United States instead of outsourcing jobs or relying on international markets for valuable goods and resources.
Partner with Faith-Based Organizations
To provide assistance to those whose poverty has left them in immediate need of necessities, Democrats support partnering with faith-based organizations. To preserve the separation of church and state, they believe in only working with organizations that have a proven record of providing aid to the impoverished. The 2012 Democratic Party platform shows the reasoning of supporting religious groups in their secular causes by stating, “People of faith and religious organizations do amazing work in communities across this country & the world, and we believe in lifting up and valuing that good work, and finding ways to support it where possible. We believe in constitutionally sound, evidence-based partnerships with faith-based and other non-profit organizations to serve those in need and advance our shared interests. There is no conflict between supporting faith-based institutions and respecting our Constitution, and a full commitment to both principles is essential for the continued flourishing of both faith & country.”
One of the most essential aspects to combatting poverty is reducing unemployment rates. Democrats believe in reforming the education system to keep teachers on the job, as well as investing in roads, bridges, schools, and water supply in order to put construction workers back to work. They also believe in creating tax cuts for small businesses to hire more employees, and especially to those that put veterans back to work. They hope to put a ban on hiring discrimination against the unemployed to help those that have long been suffering from poverty get back on their feet.
Rebuilding the Middle Class
Democrats believe that the best way to decrease the amount of Americans living in poverty is to rebuild the working middle class. The middle class creates room for mobility between the impoverished and the wealthy. In order to accomplish this, Democrats believe in expanding access to refinancing options for families who have made consistent payments on their mortgages, and enabling student loan borrowers to have payments kept beneath a set percentage of income. The Democratic Party advocates for further tax cuts to the middle class, with key tax relief packages for those paying for college. They support letting every responsible homeowner that is still recovering from the housing bubble refinance their home in order to make their remaining payments more affordable. Democrats strongly support bettering the education system to combat poverty. This would improve the chances for young Americans of starting careers out of college, and also prevent outsourcing. In addition to setting institutions up to out-educate the rest of the world, the Democratic Party is fighting to make higher education more affordable.
Bernie Sanders on Poverty
Bernie Sanders considers it a “disgrace” that American poverty rates are as high as they are, pointing out that “America now has more wealth and income inequality than any major developed country on earth, and the gap between the very rich and everyone else is wider than at any time since the 1920s.” Sanders plans to work to reduce poverty rates by equaling out the tax burden between class lines, stating that he plans to implement a progressive estate tax on the top 0.3 percent of Americans who inherit more than $3.5 million as well as a tax on Wall Street speculators who caused millions of Americans to lose their jobs, homes, and life savings. He plans to bring minimum wage up to $15 an hour by 2020, and invest $1 trillion over five years towards public service projects, providing jobs to at least 13 million people. He also plans to invest $5.5 billion in a youth jobs program, helping disadvantage young Americans make their way into the workforce. He hopes to enact a Paycheck Fairness Act, which will equal out the wages paid to men and women for similar professions. Sanders also hopes to combat the catch-22 that young Americans face in having to get themselves into debt to be successful in a career path by making tuition free at public colleges and universities throughout America. He plans to fight for the Employee Free Choice Act, making it easier for employees to join unions and fight for bargaining rights. He also hopes to break up large financial institutions so that they are no longer too big to fail.” This will prevent situations in the future where Americans need to spend tax dollars to bail out corporate institutions.
Hillary Clinton on Poverty
Like most Democrats, Hillary Clinton believes in combatting poverty from the bottom up. She hopes to see tax credits put into place that will promote home ownership in areas under economic stress. She hopes to continue welfare reform by both establishing systems to help recipients get into steady jobs and by tying welfare payments to parenting. She hopes to see increased welfare payments available to recipients who exhibit quality parenting behaviors. She also supports raising minimum wage, so that no full-time worker is forced to live in poverty.
- Hillary Clinton on Welfare & Poverty – On The Issues