By Stephen C. Webster
Friday, November 16, 2012
Working off the conservative premise that food and medical assistance deprograms ambition and debases economic mobility, MSNBC’s right-wing commentator S.E. Cupp tried to tell a nun on Thursday that helping the poor leaves them worse off.
That didn’t exactly fly with Sister Simone Campbell, a Catholic nun who’s part of the “Nuns on the Bus” campaign to raise awareness of economic injustice.
“I think everyone can agree that we’d like to decrease poverty,” Cupp said. “Even though conservatives have been maligned for quote unquote wanting to cut social safety programs and the social safety net, expanding welfare hasn’t reduced poverty. In fact, adding millions to the ranks of welfare has seen poverty explode over the past four years. So, what’s the balanced response here?”
“Excuse me, but that data is really wrong,” Campbell said.
“Poverty has not exploded in the past four years?” Cupp asked.
“Poverty has increased, but quote welfare has not,” Campbell said. “The real culprit here is minimum wage. Minimum wage has stayed below the poverty level. What we have to be keenly aware of is in 1970, if you worked for minimum wage it kept you out of poverty. If we were going to go back to a wage that would keep families out of poverty, minimum wage would have to be about $12.50 an hour, instead of its current $7.25. So, let’s talk about the working poor. People don’t realize that a big percentage of those in poverty are people who are working.”