This Week in Poverty: Responses to the ‘Cliff’ Deal | The Nation

This Week in Poverty: Responses to the ‘Cliff’ Deal | The Nation

‘fiscal cliff debate has once again [ignored] the poor’

Paul Krugman recently explained about the political and public understanding of the fiscal cliff: “It speaks to the state of confusion that all the deficit fearmongering has created. And if headline writers at a major newspaper can’t get it straight, how can you expect ordinary voters to get it?”

Little has been said, however, about how the fiscal cliff debate has maintained the public gaze in the US on the middle class and the wealthy, once again ignoring the poor, the working poor, and the working class. Your focus, then, is a valuable contribution now that a deal has been struck: “But I’m troubled by the lack of attention being paid to how this deal benefits the more than one in three Americans living below twice the poverty line.”

Political and popular discourse in the US tends either to ignore the poor, the working poor, and the working class or to characterize those at the bottom of the economic ladder as lazy or simply feeding off the wealthy—as perpetuated by Romney’s 47 percent comment.

Claiming equity of opportunity, the great American meritocracy, exists—which it doesn’t—is quite different than seeking that meritocracy. Public policy and the discourse around that policy need to keep a central focus on the marginalized poor, at least along with concern about the middle class and affluent, as a harbinger for achieving the equity and opportunity Americans claim to honor.

Paul Thomas, EdD

Furman University

Education