House Democrats Hold Hearing on Poverty in America

The House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee held a hearing on April 14 titled “The Failure of Trickle Down Economics in the War on Poverty.,” Witnesses spoke about families struggling to make ends meet while stuck in an endless cycle of poverty that leads to poor health and educational outcomes, harming community wellbeing and the overall U.S. economy. Housing was discussed as a key issue to be addressed for ending systemic poverty.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in her opening remarks, “Addressing poverty in America is a searing challenge to the conscience of our country. How can it be that we, the wealthiest nation on the face of the earth, that in our country one in five children lives in poverty? How could it be that maybe one in four children in America goes to sleep hungry at night? How can it be that in the land of the American Dream, so many of our fellow Americans are stuck – so many are struggling?”

Dr. Kathryn Edin, who recently spoke at NLIHC’s Policy Forum (see Memo, 4/11), testified about her research on welfare reform and the myths about low-income families, detailed in her book, $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America. She explained that the number of people subsisting on $2 per day rose dramatically after welfare reform and that a very small percentage of households eligible for Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF) actually receive assistance. She also pointed out that the poor are deeply committed to work but that jobs available to them do not provide enough to shield them from poverty.