I know a lot has already been written about what was said by both candidates at this week’s presidential debate, but I have to say, I’m more struck by what wasn’t said. Has it become taboo for candidates to discuss poverty in America? Do both candidates really believe that beefing up educational opportunity is the panacea for addressing the plight of the one in six Americans living in poverty? No discussion of safety nets. No discussion of the children who face food insecurity every day. No discussion of the increasing number of homeless families in America. No discussion of raising the minimum wage. Almost no discussion of quality child care options for low-income women.
In fact, Mr. Romney assured his supporters that the wealthy would continue to pay 60% of our country’s taxes while middle-class citizens would see their tax bills slashed. By my reckoning, that leaves only the poor to make up for what the middle-class is no longer burdened with. Is anyone else simultaneously outraged, puzzled, and incredulous at the thinking behind this?
President Obama, while chastising his opponent on his 47% gaffe, carefully mentioned only the “deserving” poor who fit into this category. Is he tacitly acknowledging that there are undeserving poor whom it’s actually okay to ignore?
I understand that these are politicians and the point of debates is to win votes. Knowing that both men employ very smart people who have researched just what messaging will resonate with voters, it concerns me that making sure as a society we are committed to taking care of our most vulnerable members doesn’t seem to be even a blip on the radar.
Donna is the executive assistant to the president at the Foundation.