Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton Barely Mention the Millions of Americans Who Are Living in Poverty

Hillary Clinton in Des Moines on Wednesday. She is scheduled to speak about her economic plans on Thursday near Detroit. (Sam Hodgson for The New York Times)
Hillary Clinton in Des Moines on Wednesday. She is scheduled to speak about her economic plans on Thursday near Detroit. (Sam Hodgson for The New York Times)

The United States, the wealthiest nation on earth, also abides the deepest poverty of any developed nation, but you would not know it by listening to Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee.

Mrs. Clinton, who is scheduled to speak about her economic plans on Thursday near Detroit, is campaigning as an advocate for middle-class families whose fortunes have flagged. She has said much less about helping the millions of Americans who yearn to reach the middle class.

Her Republican rival, Donald J. Trump, spoke in Detroit on his economic proposals three days ago, and while their platforms are markedly different in details and emphasis, the candidates have this in common: Both promise to help Americans find jobs; neither has said much about helping people while they are not working.

“We don’t have a full-voiced condemnation of the level or extent of poverty in America today,” said Matthew Desmond, a Harvard professor of sociology. “We aren’t having in our presidential debate right now a serious conversation about the fact that we are the richest democracy in the world, with the most poverty. It should be at the very top of the agenda.”

It is not as if Washington policy makers have completely forgotten the poor. President Obama and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin have both advocated expanding the earned-income tax credit for childless men and tackling a criminal justice system that has saddled minor offenders with lives of economic struggle.

And Mrs. Clinton’s policies, although rhetorically geared toward the middle class, would most likely have a broader impact. She has promised an economy that works for “everyone, not just those at the top.” She has called for raising the federal minimum wage to $12 an hour from $7.25 an hour, which would directly benefit many lower-income workers. And her proposals to help the middle class would benefit some lower-income families, too. She has proposed expanding federal subsidies for health care, child care and education, and mandating improved benefits for workers.

“You want more?” Heather Boushey, the executive director of the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, asked of those who argue that Mrs. Clinton should embrace an explicit anti-poverty agenda. “That’s great. That is such an audacious statement. They want everything, and I am with them. But it is also worth noting that Hillary Clinton is running on the most progressive platform any party has put together.”

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SOURCE: BINYAMIN APPELBAUM 
The Washington Post