Washington, D.C. – With approximately 30 percent of Americans out of work or experiencing a pay cut due to the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) led a letter urging President Trump to end his Administration’s assault on the health, quality of life and well-being of low-income Americans. The Senators also condemned President Trump for his ongoing efforts to dismantle assistance programs that millions of low income Americans rely on, especially as they deal with financial hardships during the public health crisis. Senators Casey, Baldwin and Warren were joined by 21 other Democratic Senators.
“This public health crisis has laid bare the inequities that have long plagued our country, including the gap between rich and poor. We should right these wrongs, but your administration has pursued every opportunity to gut programs that ensure Americans can put food on their tables and access health care for their families, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Medicaid,” wrote the Senators. “The COVID-19 pandemic will likely decrease socioeconomic mobility and hinder the ability of individuals and families to make and save enough money to protect against future crises. We should take this opportunity to better prepare for the next crisis by advancing policies that lift up people in need and build economic security for all Americans.”
Long before COVID-19, millions of Americans were living paycheck-to-paycheck. Almost 40 percent of Americans have said they did not have enough cash to cover an unexpected $400 expense. In 2018, 38.1 million Americans lived below the poverty line of $25,701 per year for a family of four.
The Trump Administration has worked consistently to undermine programs that provide low-income individuals and families with the resources they need. For example, in addition to targeted actions to gut Medicaid and SNAP, in 2019, the Trump Administration proposed to make changes to the Nation’s Official Poverty Measure (OPM), upon which the annual poverty guidelines are based. The Administration proposed changing the measure of yearly inflation from CPI-U to chained CPI, which shows slower inflation over time, resulting in fewer Americans represented below the poverty line. This proposed change would decrease eligibility for assistance for millions of children and families. Rather than artificially lowering the OPM, the Senators suggested that there are other measures that would more accurately calculate poverty, which could lead to better policies and increased economic security for all Americans. They urged for a robust and transparent discussion of those alternatives in order to decrease the wealth gap and build resilience in response to future crises.
Senators Casey, Baldwin and Warren were joined by Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Tina Smith (D-MN), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tom Carper (D-DE), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Ed Markey (D-MA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Pat Leahy (D-VT), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Jack Reed (D-RI).
The letter is supported by the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities; MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger; the Center for Law and Social Policy; the National Women's Law Center; Social Security Works; and the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center.
Read the letter here.