Congress, COVID And Poverty In America

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A homeless encampment is seen along a freeway in Hollywood, California, November 23, 2020. (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP via Getty Images)
A homeless encampment is seen along a freeway in Hollywood, California, November 23, 2020. (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP via Getty Images)

Congress passed an economic relief deal. Will it measure up to needs? We discuss how politics caused a massive surge in American poverty.   


James Sullivan, economics professor at the University of Notre Dame. (@LEOatND)

Rev. William Barber, co-chair of the Poor People's Campaign. President and senior lecturer at Repairers of the Breach. (@RevDrBarber)

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Stephen Jenkins, Springfield, Ohio resident who lost his job in January.

Dinesh Karki, Boulder, Colorado resident who lost his job in September.

Alan Bloom, communications officer at Montgomery Area Food Bank.

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CBS News: "U.S. poverty jumps the most in 60 years" — "Of the various measures of the coronavirus pandemic's comet strike on the U.S. economy, one especially reveals the size of the crater: Over a six-month period, nearly 8 million Americans have tumbled into poverty."

Politico: "Congress passes massive stimulus package as virus rages" — "Congress approved a $900 billion coronavirus relief package late Monday night after months of inaction and partisan bickering, sending desperately needed aid to Americans reeling from a global pandemic."

PBS: "How COVID Has Impacted Poverty in America" — "The film follows children from three families in Ohio already struggling to make ends meet when the coronavirus hit. It offers a glimpse into how the virus and its economic fallout introduced new uncertainties into the children’s lives, affecting their emotional wellbeing, their schooling and their parents’ jobs."

Sojourners: "The U.S. Undercounts People In Poverty—By 106 Million, Advocates Say" — "Suppose the total annual income of a family composed of a mother, father, great-aunt, and two children living outside of a major metropolitan area came to $32,000 in 2019. Although their income might be significantly lower than the average among similarly-sized households in the region, the U.S. wouldn’t have included them in the official count of American families living in poverty."

Cap Radio: "High-Poverty Neighborhoods Bear the Brunt of COVID’s Scourge" — "Over the course of the pandemic, COVID-19 infections have battered high-poverty neighborhoods in California on a staggeringly different scale than more affluent areas, a trend that underscores the heightened risks for low-wage workers as the state endures a deadly late-autumn surge."

NBC News: "Poverty rate spiked when $600 stimulus payments expired, study finds" — "The U.S. poverty rate rose by nearly 2 percent over the summer, with about 7 million more Americans falling below the line, according to new research from the University of Chicago, the University of Notre Dame and Zhejiang University in China."

The Conversation: "Americans aren’t getting enough to eat during the coronavirus pandemic – here’s what’s happening in Los Angeles County" — "The number of Americans who can’t get enough food is rising from already troubling levels during the COVID-19 pandemic. About 1 in 10 Americans said in November 2020 that their household sometimes or often did not have enough to eat in the previous week, the U.S. Census Bureau found."

CNN: "Five stark measures show rising American suffering as Congress finalizes aid deal" — "Millions of Americans don't have enough to eat, are falling behind on housing payments or have had trouble paying their bills. And millions of Americans are lapsing into poverty."

Vox: "What it would take to end child poverty in America" — "In 2019, about one in six children in America — 12 million kids nationwide — lived in poverty. That’s a rate about two or three times higher than in peer countries. And that was before the worst economic and public health crisis in modern history."

This program aired on December 22, 2020.


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Anna Bauman is a producer and director at On Point.


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Meghna Chakrabarti is the host of On Point.



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