No Discussion of Poverty at Presidential Debate on Domestic Issues

As we know, nearly half of Americans currently live in poverty or are very close to it.  Yet, I knew better than to expect that either President Obama or Governor Romney would take any time at last night’s debate to talk meaningfully about poor people, let alone poor children — or poverty in general.  But still I hoped.  Instead we got taxes, deficits, and promises to cut government funding of PBS (which would save the equivalent of one one-hundreth of 1% of the federal budget).

Here are a few links (plus brief excerpts) to commentators who also noticed this glaring omission:

“If the United States got the fewest medals at this summer’s Olympics among major developed countries, we would declare a national crisis. Commissions would be formed; pundits would be incensed; all of our resources would be marshaled to meet this catastrophe head on. And it’s quite likely Jim Lehrer would have gotten around to asking about it last night.

Apparently, we can’t muster that sort of passion for poor kids. We lead the developed world in childhood poverty, but neither of our presidential candidates, nor the media, seems to care very much. They waste time on ridiculous debates about the deficit and taxes on the wealthy while children live in cars and go to bed hungry.”

“Again, poor children remain politically invisible,” said Irwin Redlener, a pediatrician, president of Children’s Health Fund and professor at Columbia University. “In a debate focused on the economy, it would have been entirely appropriate to ask about plans to deal with poverty in general — and poverty among children in particular. For those who are legitimately worried about cutbacks in vital safety net programs for children during this economic downturn, this debate fell short.”


Lots of talk about the middle class. Tax cuts for the middle class. Saving the middle class. Doing more for the middle class.

Not one word about poverty.

No mention that nearly 25% of the children in the world’s richest nation live in poverty.

Not one word.”

Your thoughts?  Please share them in the comments.

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About Tamar Birckhead

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One Response to No Discussion of Poverty at Presidential Debate on Domestic Issues

  1. Tamar Birckhead says:

    There is also this New York Times editorial that makes the point in more comprehensive terms: