A ‘Poor People’s Moral Budget’ because ‘everybody has the right to live’

"For too long, we have turned to those with wealth and power to solve our most pressing social problems."

Image credit: Poor People's Campaign

This week another new budget proposal was released. This time it didn’t come from campaigning politicians or corrupt administrations but rather from two groups – the Poor People’s Campaign and the Institute for Policy Studies – in an effort to show the people of the United States how to “invest in life.”

The ‘Poor People’s Moral Budget‘ demands a “comprehensive response to the systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, militarism, and war economy plaguing our country today.” It includes seven sections that detail policies and investments in order to “establish justice, domestic tranquility, security, and the general welfare for all”:

Overall the report identifies:

  • $350 billion in annual military spending cuts that would make the nation and the world more secure;
  • $886 billion in estimated annual revenue from fair taxes on the wealthy, corporations, and Wall Street; and
  • Billions more in savings from ending mass incarceration, addressing climate change, and
    meeting other key campaign demands.

The seven sections of the report are as follows:

  1. Investments in Democracy & Equal Protection Under the law – This section includes voting rights and registration, immigration reform, and protections for LGBTQIA people.
  2. Investiments in Domestic Tranquility. This section includes full employment and federal job garuntee, living wages and equal pay, the right to social welfar, and the right the affordable housing.
  3. Investments in an equitable economy. This section includes how to create a moral tax code, taxing the wealthiest Americans, fair taxes on corporations and Wall Street, andnarrowing the racial wealth divide.
  4. Investments in Life and Health. This section includes how to expand and protect Medicaid and Medicare, Universal Health Care establishment, mental health, and indigenous and native health.
  5. Investments in Our Future. This section includes early learning, K-12 Education, higher education and free college, and inclusion for all.
  6. Investments in the Planet. This section includes climate change, clean energy, clean water, and a mode for federal action on renewable energy.
  7. Investments in Peace and the Common Defense. This section includes ending the culture of war, reducing military spending, and ending militarism at home.

The report states that because the United States is a wealthy country, there is no lack of resources to “address racism, poverty, ecological devastation, and militarism.” By prioritizing the needs and demands of the poor we can create both long term and short term benefits for ourselves and future generations.

43.5% of Americans are poor and low income. That is 140 million Americans that are victims of biased policy and laws that disproportionately affect them. While the current administration continues to minimize or eradicate social programs in favor or increased military spending and tax laws that favor the rich, inequality continues to grow in the richest country in the history of the world.

Organizers from the Poor People’s Campaign plan to use this moral budget to ask 2020 presidential candidates about the stances on policies, specifically those related to ending poverty.

“For too long, we have turned to those with wealth and power to solve our most pressing social problems. We have been led to believe that those in positions of influence and authority will use the resources at hand in the best possible way for the betterment of our society. This orientation has justified tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations and work requirement for the poor; it has secured environmental shortcuts for industry and military expansion around the world; and it has yielded very little for the 140 million people in this country who are still poor and struggling to meet their needs,” concludes the report.


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Ruth Milka started as an intern for NationofChange in 2015. Known for her thoughtful and thorough approach, Ruth is committed to shedding light on the intersection of environmental issues and their impact on human communities. Her reporting consistently highlights the urgency of environmental challenges while emphasizing the human stories at the heart of these issues. Ruth’s work is driven by a passion for truth and a dedication to informing the public about critical global matters concerning the environment and human rights.