Rethinking America

Trump Vs. America’s Children: Child Poverty In America Is Indefensible

For the country’s poor, the American dream is a living nightmare which is heightened by Trump’s ill-conceived budget.

Credit: danielfela Shutterstock.com

Takeaways


  • The state of poverty in the US, particularly among children, is abhorrent.
  • Black and Hispanic children are disproportionately suffering from poverty—one in three and one in four respectively.
  • Under the pretext of correcting fraudulence in welfare programs, Trump’s plan will eliminate funding from children whose lives depend on it.
  • According to OECD rankings of child income poverty rates, the US disgracefully falls in between Mexico and Lithuania.

The state of poverty in the United States, particularly among children, is abhorrent. It puts America, the richest and most powerful country in the world, in a shameful light.

Successive U.S. administrations are guilty of immense negligence toward poor children. They have inflicted incalculable damage to millions who continue to suffer. This causes a tremendous loss of human resources and productivity to the country.

The following heart-wrenching statistics demonstrate the magnitude of the problem. One in 11 children, approximately 6.5 million nationwide, live in extreme poverty (an average of $12,129 per year for a family of four).

One in five infants-to-preschool-aged children (4.2 million) live in conditions of foreboding poverty, compounded by the fact that this age is a time of rapid brain development.

Black and Hispanic children are disproportionately suffering from poverty—one in three and one in four respectively—compared to one in eight for their white counterparts.

If this is not the result of a colossal failure in the U.S. economic system and its defunct policies, then it is difficult to think what that would be.

A country-wide problem

There is no part of the country that does not experience intense poverty from which children suffer the most. Even in Boston, MA, the child poverty rate is 26.9%.

Around the country, it is common to hear that right down the road from an economically stable community is an area of deep impoverishment and scarcity.

These Americans are unable to rely on the support of any community, as they are often assigned a stigma by those more privileged and must hide what little they do have from others who are equally desperate and hungry.

The children of these families suffer from developmental issues resulting not only from malnutrition — but also from broken homes, lack of education and the absence of any stable emotional base.

The most saddening truth of the situation is that these children were born into a mentally, emotionally, and physically oppressive system.

A report by a USA Today affiliate, The Courier Journal, found that these children of poverty could be aided by an Earned Income Tax Credit for their families—one of the very programs hit with funding cuts in Trump’s proposed budget.

Going back on his word

In his inaugural address, Trump stated that “The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer… Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities… students deprived of knowledge…their success will be our success.”

If this was his pledge, why is he cutting support from the very programs which sustain these ends?

By now, we have become used to Trump’s hypocrisy and his disdainful policies. But we are still closing our eyes as to fully comprehending just how much they subject a substantial segment of another generation of youth to hopelessness and deprivation.

Instead of giving these millions of destitute children every opportunity to flourish in an open society and contribute to the well-being of their communities, Trump is stifling their growth and making them permanently dependent on government aid as they continue to struggle in silent desperation.

Of course, that is the very opposite of what he has claimed to pursue as national strategy. Can arrogance and irresponsibility exact a higher price anywhere?

No prospects

Lest we forget, many of these children do not finish high school. They wander the streets, jobless and adrift and end up turning to crime. Tens of thousands are incarcerated for petty theft or other minor misdemeanors. That may be good for the private fortunes of the operators of the prison-industrial complex, but no one else.

When these destitute children turned young people then leave the prisons, many commit more serious crimes. Their prospect of becoming positive and productive citizens further dissipates.

For them, the American dream is a living nightmare which is heightened by Trump’s ill-conceived budget that the Republican-dominated Senate brazenly passed a week ago.

Here is the glaring cruelty of Trump’s budget cuts. Over the next 10 years, $190 billion is being cut from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps), and $616 billion cut from Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

In addition, the cut from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (welfare) is $21.6 billion. There is a proposed cut of $40.4 billion from earned-income tax credits and child tax credits.

Under the pretext of correcting fraudulence in such social welfare programs, Trump’s plan will eliminate significant funding from children whose lives depend on it.

The wealthiest benefit

Even further, his tax plan would greatly benefit the wealthiest Americans and only benefit the middle class modestly. But it would have no positive impact on the bottom third of the population, keeping the poor poor — and creating even more poverty.

This outcome only reaffirms his indifference to the plight of deprived children and his bigoted attitude toward the Hispanic and black among them, who constitute a majority.

What most people are unaware of is that according to Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development rankings of child income poverty rates, the United States disgracefully falls in between Mexico and Lithuania.

Even though the final budget may somewhat be modified by the House, the fact that Trump proposed such deep cuts speaks volumes about his disregard of the most critical segment of the population.

Millions of poor children live in families that have little or no means to improve their lot, which has a significant impact on their growth and character.

Here is where the billions of dollars should be invested, which could make a real difference in the lives of our precious children instead of being wasted on useless projects such as the Wall.

It is a choice that Trump and his Republican Party which is in disarray must come to grips with. No child in the United States should be left behind. That is something which bipartisan representatives of the American people fought for in 2011. It is the humane principle that we must defend today.

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About Alon Ben-Meir

Senior Fellow at New York University’s Center for Global Affairs and Senior Fellow at the World Policy Institute [United States]

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