Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Announces New Anti-Poverty Package Called "A Just Society"
In the midst of the House's decision to open a formal impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is still managing to focus on what she was elected to do — make life better for her constituents and Americans all over the country. On Wednesday, she introduced a new anti-poverty package called “A Just Society” that sets out to reform the policies that cause economic injustice in the U.S. “We are at our richest point that we've ever been, but we've also been our most unequal,” she told The New York Times. “It's something that we have to talk about.”
The package is a collection of six bills that include provisions for everything from rethinking the official poverty line to caps on rent increases. Though Democrats do not have control of the Senate or the White House, making the passage of these bills unlikely for the foreseeable future, Ocasio-Cortez hopes that the package will at least lay the groundwork for a bigger anti-poverty discussion in the event that Democrats do come out ahead in the 2020 election. “I think one of the things that we can get done is build popular support in acknowledging how bad the problem already is,” she told NPR. “In doing so, we can actually begin to fundamentally address those problems.”
The first bill in the package, the Recognizing Poverty Act, would require the secretary of health and human services to work with the Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics to develop new poverty guidelines that account for geographic variation as well as contemporary necessities like internet access. In a tweet, Ocasio-Cortez said that the federal poverty line is based on 1955 spending, and that the way it is calculated has not changed since 1964. Another bill, the Place to Prosper Act, would impose a 3 percent national cap on annual rent increases and create a counseling fund for renters facing eviction.
The package also includes the Mercy in Re-entry Act and the Embrace Act, which would prohibit the denial of federal benefits to anyone because of past criminal convictions or their immigration status, respectively. The Uplift Our Workers Act would create a “worker-friendly score” for federal contractors, based on whether or not the employer provides things like overtime pay or paid family leave. Finally, the package directs the Senate to ratify the U.N. Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which recognizes the right to things like favorable working conditions and forming trade unions. You can read more about “A Just Society” here.