According to the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey released on September 22, for too many people in Kentucky’s 5th District, 2010 was not a good year: nearly 27 percent of the district’s more than 175,000 people lived in poverty, including 34 percent of children and more than one in four women. Nearly 20 percent of the district’s constituents had no health insurance.
You might think that the good news for residents of the 5th is that their congressman, Republican Hal Rogers, has enormous power and influence over Congress’s spending decisions as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.
You’d be wrong.
The widespread pain of his constituents didn’t stop Rogers from voting to cut food stamps and healthcare for those same women and kids. It didn’t stop him from voting for the “cut, cap and balance” proposal that would have cost this dangerously weak economy another 700,000 jobs. Nor did it stop him from voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act, despite the fact that the only positive sign on the insurance front is the declining rate of uninsured young adults ages 18–24, now that they can stay on their parents’ plan thanks to healthcare reform.
Rogers did manage to cast a “yes” vote for new tax cuts for millionaires though.
For his callousness to the suffering of his own constituents, and voting in direct opposition to their needs, Rogers was named to “The Terrible Ten” in Congress by Half in Ten, a national campaign to reduce poverty by 50 percent over the next ten years.
“Its a question of accountability,” says Melissa Boteach, manager of Half in Ten. “These ten members represent districts and states with some of the highest poverty rates in the country, and yet have voted for job-killing budget bills and deep cuts to our nation’s safety net. Its a mismatch too stark to be ignored.”
Rogers has company in the Terrible Ten that hails from the Bluegrass State—Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who feigns a genteel manner as he votes time and again to gut our government’s assistance to poor people and the dwindling middle-class. Rounding out the group are: Republican Congressmen Blake Farenthold (TX), Mike Rogers (AL), Steve Pearce (NM) and Paul Gosar (AZ); and Republican Senators from the two states with the highest child poverty rates—Jeff Sessions and Richard Shelby of Alabama, and Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker of Mississippi, where 27 percent and 32 percent of kids live in poverty, respectively.