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The Poor People’s Campaign joined progressive House members on Capitol Hill on May 20th to lay out a comprehensive moral vision for the nation, a moral vision to build up America's crumbling infrastructure and guarantee health care for all.
“It’s unforgiveable that 250,000 people die every year in this country from poverty and inequality,” said Representative Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) during a press conference to unveil a sweeping Congressional resolution for a “Third Reconstruction.”
The resolution's title draws on the history of the First Reconstruction following the Civil War and the Second Reconstruction of the 20th century civil rights movement. Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Chair of the 95-member Congressional Progressive Caucus, stressed that a new era of transformational change will require new policy choices.
“We allow poverty to continue when the richest 130,000 Americans have as much wealth as the bottom 117 million, when 55 of the largest corporations paid not one dollar in taxes last year, when we let our health system to be focused on profits — not patients,” Jayapal said.
Lee and Jayapal were supported by six other Progressive Caucus members and Poor People’s Campaign co-chairs Reverend Dr. William Barber II and Reverend Dr. Liz Theoharis.
“What is the cost of inequality?” asked Barber, pointing out that billionaire wealth has increased by more than $1.3 trillion during the pandemic while millions have fallen into poverty. “This is a moral issue, rooted in the moral commitments of our Constitution. The first thing we had to do is establish justice, promote the general welfare, and to ensure equal protection under the law.”
The resolution contains a long list of proposed economic policies focus on eradicating poverty, sharply reducing racial and economic inequality as well as guaranteeing health care for all. They include a federal jobs program to build up climate resilient public infrastructure, universal health care and paid leave, raising the minimum wage to a living wage, and guaranteeing the right to form and join unions.
The resolution also calls for action on systemic racism, ecological devastation and militarism. Proposals include expanding voting rights, comprehensive and just immigration reform, and guaranteeing Native and Indigenous rights.
While not directly addressing President Biden’s proposals, the Third Reconstruction resolution goes beyond the administration’s commitments to date in several key areas.
The resolution calls for redirecting 10 percent of the military budget and generating revenue by fully repealing the 2017 corporate tax rate cut and introducing new taxes on wealth and Wall Street trading.
Read the Congressional Resolution Here PDF
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