According to a recent report from the United Nations, poverty has worsened under President Donald Trump administration.
The report called out policies which appear designed to deprive impoverished Americans of basic social protections while providing tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans.
The special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, visited poor communities in the United States for several months. During a visit to Alabama, he met with a family that was trying to make ends meet on a monthly budget of $958. Alston said there was visible sewage outside the family’s home in addition to mold and mildew growing inside; these were problems that the rapporteur had never seen in the developed world.
“I think it’s very uncommon in the First World. This is not a sight that one normally sees. I’d have to say that I haven’t seen this,” he told a local paper at the time. He said it was the federal government’s responsibility to provide things like power, water, and sewage services. When lacking resources “leaves you to install very expensive septic tanks, that’s not how it should work,” he said.
Alston is now criticizing the Trump administration “The policies pursued over the past year seem deliberately designed to remove basic protections from the poorest, punish those who are not in employment, and make even basic healthcare into a privilege to be earned, rather than a right of citizenship,” he said.
The rapporteur, who is also a law professor at New York University, faced some critics who said the statistics from in report are from 2017, which is the year Trump took office. 41 million Americans live in poverty, which is more than 12% of the population, according to the report. Moreover, Alston said he is confident that data from 2018 will prove the accuracy of his finding.
…The poverty figures for 2017 won't be published until Sept 2018. Poverty is a structural problem, but I strongly believe, backed up by extensive evidence, that a 1.5 trillion tax cut for the rich and the hollowing out of welfare benefits, will make things worse, not great.
— Philip Alston (@Alston_UNSR) June 3, 2018
He furthermore accused the federal government of leaving the poor out to dry, saying they should support social programs rather than “punishing and imprisoning the poor.”
“If food stamps and access to Medicaid are removed, and housing subsidies cut, then the effect on people living on the margins will be drastic,” Alston said.