A new congressional resolution asserts it’s not only possible to end poverty, but morally necessary.
By Sarah Anderson | June 2, 2021
Originally published in OtherWords
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
Amidst partisan haggling over President Biden’s infrastructure proposal, the Poor People’s Campaign and several lawmakers recently outlined a comprehensive moral vision for the nation. They believe it’s not only possible to end poverty in this country, but morally necessary.
“It’s unforgivable that 250,000 people die every year in this country from poverty and inequality,” said Rep. Barbara Lee during a press conference to unveil a sweeping congressional resolution for a “Third Reconstruction.”
The resolution’s title draws on the transformational history of the First Reconstruction following the Civil War and the Second Reconstruction of the 20th century civil rights movement — two periods during which multi-racial coalitions achieved significant strides towards racial and economic justice.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal stressed that a new era of transformational change will require new policy choices. “We allow poverty to continue,” she said, “when 55 of the largest corporations paid not one dollar in taxes last year, when we let our health system be focused on profits — not patients.”
Lee and Jayapal were flanked by Poor People’s Campaign co-chairs Rev. Dr. William Barber II and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis.
“What is the cost of inequality?” asked Barber, pointing out that billionaire wealth has increased by more than $1.3 trillion during the pandemic while millions have fallen into poverty. “This is a moral issue, rooted in the moral commitments of our Constitution. The first thing we had to do is establish justice, promote the general welfare, and to ensure equal protection under the law.”
The congressional resolution lays out a roadmap for achieving those lofty goals.
A long list of proposed economic policies focus on eradicating poverty and sharply reducing racial and economic inequality. They include a federal jobs program to build up climate resilient public infrastructure, universal health care and paid leave, raising the minimum wage to a living wage, and guaranteeing the right to form and join unions.
The resolution also calls for bold action to address the inter-connected injustices of systemic racism, ecological devastation, and militarism. Proposals include expanding voting rights, comprehensive and just immigration reform, and guaranteeing Native rights.
The Third Reconstruction resolution goes beyond Biden’s commitments to date in several key areas.
For example, to secure resources for public investment, the resolution calls for redirecting 10 percent of the military budget and generating revenue by repealing the 2017 corporate tax cut and introducing new taxes on wealth and Wall Street trading.
Several members who spoke at the press conference described the ravages of poverty and inequality in their congressional districts.
“In San Diego County, we have Fortune 500 companies and mansions on the beach,” said first-term Rep. Sara Jacobs. “But we also have 40 percent of children living in poverty — and that was before the pandemic.”
For those who will inevitably raise questions about how the resolution, if fully enacted, would impact the deficit, Barber was ready with answers.
“There is no scarcity of resources,” Barber said. “There is no scarcity of solutions. What we have in this country and have had for far too long is a scarcity of moral fusion social conscience. And it ends now with us — with this movement. We will see the birth of a Third Reconstruction.”
More from Assorted Ideas, Large & Small
- Who Just Made the Big Fat Silence You Didn’t Hear?It was RIOC, and that big fat silence billowed out in every direction as it had for months. Starting with brutal accusations in a lawsuit condemning a wide swath of Roosevelt Islanders as racists, the vacuum spread through escalating lawsuits into… nothing. by David Stone The Roosevelt Island Daily News Another Big Fat Silence When
- FDNY Canceled a Dozen Inspections, Including at a Brooklyn Public School, to Fast Track City Hall VIPFire chiefs raised concerns about favoritism in the earliest months of the Adams administration, internal emails obtained by THE CITY show, as well-connected developers like The Related Companies lobbied to cut the fire inspection line. By Greg B. Smith Dec 3 12:00pm EST The pressure from Mayor Eric Adams’ team to fast-track an FDNY
- The Pentagon Just Can’t Pass An AuditConservative lawmakers calling for cuts should start with the agency that can’t account for $1.9 trillion — not the programs Americans rely on. By Lindsay Koshgarian | November 29, 2023 The Pentagon just failed its audit — again. For the sixth time in a row, the agency that accounts for half the money Congress approves each year
- Main Street Now – How We Can Do Better, Tip #1When we take an honest look at Main Street now, it’s cringe-worthy. Even the easy improvements get little notice, and as we pointed out yesterday, slipshod appearances surround the handful of solid businesses. We can do better, starting now, at very little expense. by David Stone The Roosevelt Island Daily News “I’ll never understand why
- Main Street Retail Now, a 2023 ReviewIn the past, we looked at Main Street retail every year, comparing, looking to the future, but the pandemic changed everything. An analysis under extreme circumstances seemed unrealistic. But that’s in the past. It’s time for a fresh – rather, refreshed – look. by David Stone The Roosevelt Island Daily News Main Street Retail in