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  • AOC called on the lawmakers to pass legislation she proposed last year to recognize and better fight the issue of poverty in the country.

    AOC called on the lawmakers to pass legislation she proposed last year to recognize and better fight the issue of poverty in the country. | Photo: Reuters

Published 5 February 2020
Opinion

"We cannot go another year with kids not getting food that they need—losing parents because they can't afford healthcare," said Ocasio-Cortez. 

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) testified Wednesday before her House committee about the United States government's intentional denial to acknowledge how many U.S. citizens are living in poverty.

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AOC joined several anti-poverty campaigners in testifying at a hearing on the effects of U.S. President Donald Trump's policies on child poverty, hunger, homelessness, and healthcare. 

She called on the lawmakers to pass legislation she proposed last year to recognize and better fight the issue of poverty in the country.

The government's method - used long before Trump - to calculate poverty makes it impossible to reckon the economic wreck of millions of U.S. citizens.

"The current level of the poverty line has simply been calculated by the price of minimum dietary requirements times three," Ocasio-Cortez said. 

"The current poverty line assumes that you have a spouse at home full-time, taking care of your children. The current poverty line assumes that you don't really have any significant healthcare costs. All of this is wrong."

The failure to account for how many children are growing up without sufficient food, housing, and resources to pay for basic needs has impoverished more than 40 million people, AOC added.

"We cannot go another year with kids not getting food that they need—losing parents because they can't afford healthcare," said Ocasio-Cortez. 

"This is a moral wrong, and for children to lose their parents because they can't afford insulin or chemotherapy in what we proudly call the richest country in the world, is a moral injustice and a moral outrage."

In 2018, the United Nations' special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston released a report showing the U.S. has the highest rates of infant mortality and income inequality among developed countries.

The U.S., one of the world's wealthiest nations and the "land of opportunity," is fast becoming a champion of inequality, the report concluded at the time, with Alston accusing Trump of deepening poverty and inequality.

Nearly 41 million people live in poverty in the U.S., 18.5 million of those in extreme poverty. Children account for one in three U.S. citizens in poverty, making it the industrialized country with the highest youth poverty rate.

The U.N. expert also noted the profound link between poverty and social discrimination, with Black U.S. citizens being 2.5 times more likely than whites to live in poverty, and with double the unemployment rate.

The U.S. has additionally a staggeringly sizeable homeless population of 500,000 people.

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