The streak is alive!
It doesn’t receive the kind of attention that the Chicago Cubs do for years without a World Series title; or even New Orleans Saints quarterback, Drew Brees, for the number of games straight in which he’s thrown a touchdown pass.
But it’s a streak worth pay attention to: at least five presidential or vice presidential debates straight without a single question about poverty, dating back to 2008!
Batter up, Martha Raddatz of ABC News, with CNN’s Candy Crowley on deck. There are about 100 million people who not only can’t afford to take their families out to the ballgame, they can barely afford enough peanuts or Cracker Jacks to go around.
Without fanfare, we are shattering US poverty records: 46 million people—including 16 million children, or 22 percent of all kids—now live in poverty, on less than $18,000 a year for a family of three. Over one in three Americans, 106 million people—live on less than $36,000 a year, facing many of the same tough choices as those in “official” poverty—between basics like food, housing and healthcare. Forget about any significant savings to weather a storm or send a kid to college.
And yet, in a ninety-minute debate focusing on domestic policy—which moderator Jim Lehrer said would feature three segments on the economy, and one each on healthcare, the role of government and governing—poverty wasn’t deemed worthy of a single question.
Not that the blame lies entirely on Lehrer.
Governor Romney referenced “one out of six people in poverty” without offering a single serious policy proposal to help people toward living wage jobs. This is par for the course, the poverty numbers being a talking point he uses to attack President Obama. In his Republican convention speech: “Nearly one out of six Americans is living in poverty.… These are our brothers and sisters, our fellow Americans.” And in an e-mail last week with the subject heading, “Victory in Sight,” Romney writes that “nearly one in six Americans is living in poverty.” The most specific Romney has been to date regarding assistance to low-income people was in his series of campaign ads saying that Obama is gutting the work requirement from welfare—something that people on all sides have denounced as an outright lie.