UN Report Paints Dire Picture of US Poverty – and Says Tax Cuts Are Making It Worse

UN Report Paints Dire Picture of US Poverty – and Says Tax Cuts Are Making It Worse

© Shannon Stapleton / Reuters

The United Nations released a scathing report on poverty and inequality in the U.S. that criticizes the Trump administration for making a bad situation worse through its fiscal policies. 

In her write-up of the piece, Amanda Erickson of The Washington Post points out that the “United Nations has never been shy about attacking the United States,” and this report is no exception. The special report’s author, New York University law professor Philip Alston, is sharply critical of the injustices produced by the U.S. economic system and the failure by the political system to address them: “The United States already leads the developed world in income and wealth inequality, and it is now moving full steam ahead to make itself even more unequal,” Alston writes.

The tax cuts are singled out for criticism, as well as the ongoing Republican effort to cut social welfare programs such as Medicaid and food stamps: “The $1.5 trillion in tax cuts in December 2017 overwhelmingly benefited the wealthy and worsened inequality. … The tax reform will worsen this situation … The planned dramatic cuts in welfare will essentially shred crucial dimensions of a safety net that is already full of holes.”

Alston based his report on a 12-day trip last December to seven impoverished areas around the country, including Skid Row in Los Angles, rural Alabama and Puerto Rico. Alston said he encountered conditions not found in other developed countries, from poor sanitation to a lack of proper medical care. Citing U.S. Census data, Alston says that about 40 million Americans live in poverty, with 18.5 million in extreme poverty and 5.3 million in “Third World conditions of absolute poverty.” Alston will present his report to the United Nations Human Rights Council later this month.  

Read the full UN report here