If Democratic California Rep. Barbara Lee were in charge of the House Budget Committee, she’d have Melissa Harris-Perry guest Tianna Gaines-Turner speak as a witness this week when it holds a “progress report” hearing on the war on poverty. Because she can only make suggestions, Rep. Lee promised on Sunday’s show to ask Republican Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin to add Gaines-Turner to the witness list and hear her first-hand account of the realities of living on public assistance.
The list of witnesses on the House Budget committee’s website currently has only four names, and none of the those scheduled are currently dealing with poverty.
Lee, who spoke on the show about her own experience living on public assistance in the 1970s, supports maintaining and expanding the social safety net for those Americans “who need the support from their government so they can live the American Dream.”
Whether Ryan, whose monthly stipend for coffee is more than a person who gets SNAP benefits receives for all food each month, takes Lee’s suggestion remains to be seen.
Watch the full conversation about living on public assistance, food insecurity, and the struggle to escape poverty.
Ed. note, Tuesday, 9:30am: Past “MHP” guest Greg Kaufmann writes in The Nation about our discussion, noting that Congresswoman Lee followed up on her promise. Read his column, “From #Nerdland to Congress.”