The ‘War on Poverty’: Testimony from a low-income mother

Credit: msnbc
Credit: msnbc

Taking up rhetorical arms in what President Lyndon Johnson called the “War on Poverty” fifty years ago, Republican Rep. Paul Ryan alleged that it has “failed miserably” and hosted a Wednesday hearing on Capitol Hill to offer a progress report on that fight. Thing is, Ryan didn’t bother to invite a single person who is actually living in poverty.
Host Melissa Harris-Perry and her panel last weekend saw this coming. A few days before the hearing, Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee, who lived on public assistance herself in the 1970s, issued a call from the #nerdland set for Ryan to invite her fellow panelist, Tianna Gaines-Turner, to testify (see video below). Lee promised that she’d demand an invitation and followed up early in the week.
Gaines-Turner, who was making her second appearance on Melissa Harris-Perry to discuss her family’s food insecurity and reliance on SNAP benefits, was not allowed to testify at the hearing. But she was permitted to submit prepared written testimony to the House Budget Committee, which Ryan chairs. An excerpt:

Working with low-income people is necessary for our country to find a solution to poverty. We need constant conversation and action. The pot must be constantly stirred, not just once in a blue moon. And we can’t just be at a simmer. We need to be cooking at full blast so we can all sit together in a respectful way, talk with each other, and actually listen and understand, so we can make a plan for action.

You can read Gaines-Turner’s powerful testimony in full via this PDF link: Testimony Tianna Gaines July 31
Watch Saturday’s “Melissa Harris-Perry” on msnbc at 10am ET for much more on this topic.