Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), co-chair of the Congressional Out of Poverty Caucus, issued the following response to the figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau showing 46.2 million Americans living in poverty. The data also displays a wide racial disparity, with the poverty rate for non-Hispanic whites standing at 9.8 percent, while the rates for African Americans and Hispanics remain unacceptably high at 27.6 percent and 25.3 percent, respectively.
"The Census numbers released today underscore the urgent need to act boldly and quickly to create jobs in this country, protect our safety net, and target resources to communities of color who were hit hardest by the economic downturn. It is beyond shameful that over 45 million Americans, including over 16 million children, are living in poverty in the wealthiest nation in the world.
"Now is not the time to turn our backs on struggling families just to preserve or even expand tax giveaways to millionaires and billionaires. We must come together to wage a war on poverty and end the war on the poor, which have already been devastated by multiple rounds of budget cuts that are hurting families across this country.
"The President took swift action to stop a depression, prevent millions from slipping into poverty through the Recovery Act and to get the economy growing again, but much work remains. Far too many Americans are continuing to suffer joblessness and poverty because of Republican obstructionism. Republicans in Congress have continually blocked efforts to extend and expand vital safety net programs which safeguard millions of American children and families who face the stark realities of unemployment, hunger and homelessness each and every day.
"It is wholly unacceptable that poverty rates for African Americans and Hispanics remain nearly three times as high as whites. We must commit to investing in targeted programs that bring an end to the structural inequity that continues to hold our entire economy back. We should be extending benefits for the long-term unemployed and ensuring access to important nutrition benefits like SNAP and WIC. Additionally, we should be investing in more affordable housing, targeting economic development to help the communities hardest hit by the downturn, and by passing the American Jobs Act to boost hiring and employment.
Click here for the U.S. Census Bureau Full Report: http://www.census.gov/prod/2012pubs/p60-243.pdf
Congresswoman Lee is a founding member and Co-Chair of the Out of Poverty Caucus, created in 2005 in response to the rising rates of poverty caused by the Bush Administration's failed economic policies.
She is the author of H.R. 3300, the Half in Ten Act, to create an interagency taskforce to develop and implement a national strategy to cut poverty in half and also introduced and passed in the 110th Congress, H. Con. Res. 198, which committed the Congress to set a national goal of cutting poverty in half over the next 10 years .