Poverty in Alaska and other states continues to grow
by CARLOS MATÍAS
Poverty in Alaska and other U.S. states is growing uninterrupted. The efforts of food banks and non-governmental organizations to distribute food and aid to the most disadvantaged social classes are failing to meet the real needs of this population. While this is happening, Alaska Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski and nine other representatives of her party have presented President Joe Biden with a proposal for pandemic assistance that is clearly too little.
It is a $618 million plan, which is only a third of the amount of the bill Biden wants to push through.
This could be a serious problem for the new President. Democrats can pass Biden’s Bill, which is three times as large, without Republican support. But doing so would break the unity of action that Biden himself wants to try and promised at his inauguration as President of the United States.
Lisa Murkowski plays a key role Late last year, Lisa Murkowski was part of a group of senators from both parties considered “moderates.” The group pushed for an aid package in the face of COVID.19 that was “forgotten” in Congress, due to then-President Donald Trump’s obvious disinterest in pushing it forward.
Now, with Joe Biden in the White House, Sen. Murkowski plays a key role. But her position does not seem so clear-cut. On the one hand, Lisa Murkowski recently participated in an event on economic outlook for Anchorage, Alaska, organized by the AEDC, which we report on in this issue. She pledged to “work together and make big efforts” to revive the economy in Anchorage and the entire region.
Republican conditions However, in order for the Republicans to agree to Biden’s bill, the same Murkowski who promised these “great efforts” now says, only a few days later, that the Democratic President’s plan “cannot be replete with other objectives, such as a $15 minimum wage and cybersecurity measures”.
The proposal by the ten Republican senators led by Murkowski includes direct payments of up to $1,000, but with lower income limits than previous “COVID Aid” bills. Individuals earning $40,000, or less, would receive the full amount. No checks would be sent to single people earning more than $50,000 a year. The limit for families would be $100,000.
The GOP group includes, along with Murkowski, of Alaska; other moderate senators, such as Susan Collins, of Maine, and Mitt Romney, of Utah. But also, more uncompromising senators close to the Republican Party leadership, such as Senators Jerry Moran, of Kansas, and Thom Tillis, of North Carolina.
Poverty intensifies Since October 2020, millions of people who did not receive federal assistance have fallen into dismal poverty, struggling to pay for food and other basic expenses. Then, official statistics indicated that the average American’s income had risen thanks to official aid to alleviate the effects of the pandemic. Donald Trump was governing, and the date of the presidential election was approaching. But reality has shown that millions of people were left without any help because they were immigrants. These millions of immigrants are the ones who are now trying to get by with the help of local charities.
Poverty has increased in the United States by more than 2 points between June and November, to 11.7%, the fastest jump in history. The largest increase previously recorded was 1.3 points, between 1979 and 1980, during the deep recession caused by a spike in oil prices.
Minorities: the hardest hit The increase of 7.8 million people in poverty affects mostly minorities and immigrants, or people without a college education, as well as residents of states with less effective unemployment systems.
Many immigrants, already struggling with food and rent expenses before the pandemic, have turned to local charities, such as food banks; moved in with friends and family, in increasingly crowded conditions. Even immigrants with legal permission to work are having trouble getting by, especially with the new “public charge” rules, which discourage immigrants waiting for a green card from applying for or using public benefits.
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