April 29, 2018

An audit of poverty in the US

"The Souls of Poor Folk," is an audit of poverty in America 50 years after the original Poor People's campaign was launched. The audit was produced by the Institute for Policy Studies along with the Kairos Center and Repairers of the Breach,

Facing South - The audit found that more than 40.6 million Americans subsist below the poverty line and nearly half of the country's population cannot afford a $400 emergency. It also found that many Americans — particularly those who live in the South — are targeted by public policies that deprive them of political power and basic human rights.

For instance, 25 states — including every Southern state except for Virginia and West Virginia — have passed laws that preempt cities from raising the local minimum wage despite the audit's finding that in 2016 there was no state where an individual earning the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour could afford a two-bedroom apartment at market rent. In addition, every single Southern state has right-to-work laws in place that limit workers' ability to collectively bargain for higher pay.

The audit also notes that in the 2016 election — the first presidential election without the full protection of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 — 14 states had new voting restrictions in place for the first time. Nearly half of these states were in the South: Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. In four Southern states — Florida, Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee — onerous felon disenfranchisement laws deprive one in five Black adults of the right to vote.

There are 18 states that have refused to expand Medicaid benefits under the Affordable Care Act, and a disproportionate number of these are in the South: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. Nationwide, 2.4 million people earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid but are too poor to afford insurance in the marketplace, and 89 percent of those who fall in this coverage gap reside in the South. The refusal to expand Medicaid is a factor in the rural hospital closures that have hit the South hard in recent years.

No comments: