*The following is an opinion column by R Muse*
There is a prescient quote attributed to many speakers and although they come in various iterations, the meaning is always the same. “The true measure of a society is how it treats its weakest members” is the version most often used and refers solely to a society’s compassion or lack thereof. It is virtually impossible for any American to demonstrate one Republican act or proposal that is compassionate or remotely concerned with America’s weakest members. Of course children are included in that group, but so are the elderly, homeless, the disabled and the working poor in America. As the Republican leader, Donald Trump has cemented his lack of compassion for anyone not named Donald Trump or his wealth cohort, but Hillary Clinton just penned an op-ed about her plan to help lift the poor out of their despair the exudes compassion.
Clinton’s piece in the New York Times, after using a variant of the “measure of a society” quote substituting “its children” for “its weakest,” addressed the progress the nation has made on the economic front and job creation and pointed out there are still too many people in poverty. Clinton said something every American with a conscience and not a conservative would agree with:
“With all of our country’s resources, no child should ever have to grow up in poverty. Yet every single night, all across America, kids go to sleep hungry or without a place to call home. We have to do better. Advocating for children and families has been the cause of my life, starting with my first job as a young attorney at the Children’s Defense Fund, and if I have the honor of serving as president, it will be the driving mission of my administration.”
There are two important points Americans hardly ever hear being addressed; the incredible number of Americans, adults and children alike, who go to bed hungry every night, and those who don’t have a bed to sleep in. Although the economy is growing, a point Clinton used to press her argument that more needs to be done, and due to President Obama’s leadership there were indeed 3.5 million fewer Americans in poverty than the previous year (2014), nearly 40 percent of Americans between 25 and 60 “will experience a year in poverty at some point.” In the richest nation in the history of the Earth, that statistic informs the barbaric measure of American society; there is no excuse.
Instead of offering tax cuts for the wealthy and cutting social programs like Republicans propose, Clinton rightly cited what every non-trickle down conservative will never condone as the key to helping lift the poor out of poverty. “Make it easier to find good-paying jobs.” Clinton’s proposal is typical compassionate Democrat: “make historic investment in good-paying jobs – in infrastructure and manufacturing, technology and innovation, small businesses and clean energy. And make sure hard work is rewarded by raising the minimum wage and finally guaranteeing equal pay for women.”
Clinton also brought up an issue that never “gets coverage, but it’s a big deal to the 11.4 million households that spend more than half their incomes on rent.” She noted that most Americans can’t save a penny because they are barely able to afford shelter, but the truth is a fair share of these 11.4 million households can barely afford to put food on the table after paying rent. That’s the direct result of poverty-level wages that Republicans led by Donald Trump say are just way too high.
To address America’s real “housing crisis,” Clinton’s plan is expanding Low Income Housing Credits in “high cost areas to increase affordable housing and fuel community development,” and create jobs with easy access to affordable transportation and quality schools. She also brought up another point that, although “regular” poverty has fallen overall, extreme poverty has increased. She proposed a plan modeled on a brilliant proposal devised by Jim Clyburn’s (D-S.C.) that “directs 10 percent of federal investments to communities where 20 percent of the population has been living below the poverty line for 30 years.”
Hillary Clinton made a very important point that President Obama and Democrats have preached incessantly to deaf Republicans and their often poor dumb supporters. Based on the progress that saw all income levels make gains over the past eight years, the fastest growth on record, “when hard-working Americans get a small boost – like food stamps and health insurance thanks to the Affordable Care Act – they can climb out of poverty.”
Although poverty has been addressed over the past eight years, poverty that Republicans in Congress help make worse for the “very least among us” with low wages and cuts to social programs at the “red state” level, it is important to specifically address the horrid child poverty and homelessness levels particularly in areas that have stayed poor for decades. What is tragic is that in many of those red states the white folk, and their hungry children, suffering extreme poverty will vote for Donald Trump, even after he told them their wages are too high and the wealthy need bigger tax cuts.
As Clinton said, she has advocated for the poor; men, women and children alike her entire career, and it goes beyond just giving lip service on the campaign trail. Clinton’s plan to pay for that “historic investment in good-paying jobs” is raising taxes on the families that are already wealthy, including her own. Anyone can talk about helping the poor, but talking about it and being willing to help pay for it is the true measure of compassion; at least that’s what Jesus Christ preached.