April 17, 2018 - Issue: Vol. 164, No. 62 — Daily Edition115th Congress (2017 - 2018) - 2nd Session
TRUMP REPUBLICANS ARE WAGING WAR ON THE WORKING POOR; Congressional Record Vol. 164, No. 62
(Extensions of Remarks - April 17, 2018)
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[Extensions of Remarks] [Pages E490-E491] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] TRUMP REPUBLICANS ARE WAGING WAR ON THE WORKING POOR ______ HON. SHEILA JACKSON LEE of texas in the house of representatives Tuesday, April 17, 2018 Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to voice my opposition to Executive Order 13828, entitled ``Reducing Poverty in America by Promoting Opportunity and Economic Mobility,'' issued by the President last Tuesday, April 10, 2018. The President would have the American people believe he is bringing the country together and growing the economy for all Americans. Nothing could be further from the truth. Executive Order 13828 is a thinly-veiled attempt to restrict access to health care, housing, food, and many other basic living programs by adding onerous ``work requirements.'' These social safety net programs provide necessary government assistance to help Americans families maintain a basic standard of living, and are a safety net for the poorest of the poor. Millions of Americans, despite working two jobs, depend on these programs just to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads for their families. In addition, the vast majority of full-time workers live paycheck to paycheck. In fact, 70 percent of Americans rely on at least one means tested federal program throughout their lives. America, one of the richest countries in the world, should be able to help families caught in, to use the celebrated LBJ biographer Robert Caro's famous phrase, the ``tentacles of circumstance.'' However, we have a president who is insensitive to the plights of every day Americans. Trump and the conservative acolytes who seek to implement his agenda paint an inaccurate portrayal of poor people as lazy ``Welfare Queens'' who would rather depend on the government than pull themselves up by their bootstraps, but nothing could be further from the true reality that millions of Americans face. Mr. Speaker, the President should know that it is unreasonable to expect the poorest people to pull themselves up by their bootstraps when they do not have boots. Our nation's social safety net programs already fail to help all of the families in need: Only 1 in 4 poor families with children receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF); SNAP only provide $1.40/per meal; and Housing assistance reaches just 1 in 5 eligible families. That is because the federal government has failed to raise the minimum wage in almost a decade, so even if you work a full-time minimum wage job, you are still living in poverty. Members of the CBC are here to tell the American people, do not be fooled. Donald Trump says this is about a ``poverty trap,'' but the real trap is not raising the minimum wage. The President opposes increasing the minimum wage and eliminating labor protections for middle and lower income workers in the African American community. Mr. Speaker, raising the minimum wage to just $12 per hour would save $53 billion in SNAP benefits alone. Wage gaps between are larger today than they were in 1979. For example, African American men's average hourly wages were 22.2 percent lower than those of white men in 1979 and declined to 31.0 percent lower by 2015. Young African American women have been hardest hit since 2000. The racial wealth gap is much larger than the wage or income gap by race. Average wealth for white families is seven times higher than average wealth for African American families. Worse still, median white wealth (wealth for the family in the exact middle of the overall distribution--wealthier than half of all families and less-wealthy than half) is twelve times higher than median African American wealth. Wage gaps are growing primarily because of discrimination and racial differences in skills and worker characteristics. Declining unionization has also had a role in the growing black-white wage gap, particularly for men newly joining the workforce. African Americans have been disproportionately affected by the growing gap between pay and productivity. Not only are the President's policies divisive along racial and cultural lines, they also serve to further increase economic inequality due to their clear design in favor of the wealthiest among us at the expense of everyone else. Trump's billionaire tax heist robs the U.S. Treasury of $1.5 trillion in resources that could be invested in economic growth in underserved communities. [[Page E491]] The President has proposed doubling down on mass incarceration and the war on drugs, which drains the African American labor pool. The President has taken every opportunity to harm health care for African-Americans from sabotaging the ACA to ending Medicaid as we know it. This president is no friend to African Americans, or their pocket books. Trump also wants you to believe that he wants a bipartisan infrastructure plan. Do not be fooled. Trump's review of ``welfare programs'' is an immoral attempt to gut the programs that provide a basic standard of living for Americans struggling to make ends meet, all to pay for massive tax cuts to himself and the richest 1 percent. Instead, he should raise wages and invest in job training programs to prepare Americans for the work of the future. Mr. Speaker, our nation still has a long way to go before we achieve economic equality for all its citizens. The President and Congressional Republicans should work with Democrats to put more money in the pockets of hardworking Americans. At the end of the day, our constituents should be able to support their children with one full-time job. Ultimately, we need to give families the tools they need to rise out of poverty, not undercut programs that keep them afloat. ____________________