News ID: 206281
Published: 0152 GMT December 16, 2017

UN: Trump turning US into 'world champion of extreme inequality'

UN: Trump turning US into 'world champion of extreme inequality'

The United States under President Donald Trump is fast becoming “the champion of inequality”, according to a scathing report by the United Nation’s expert on poverty.

While the US is one of the richest nations, entrenched poverty already experienced by many will be made worse by policies promoted by Trump and the Republicans, in particular a planned tax overhaul that critics say gives huge cuts to the wealthy, it added, The Independent reported.

“The American dream is rapidly becoming the American illusion, as the United States now has the lowest rate of social mobility of any of the rich countries,” said Philip Alston the UN Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights.

“American exceptionalism was a constant theme in my conversations. But instead of realizing its founders’ admirable commitments, today’s United States has proved itself to be exceptional in far more problematic ways that are shockingly at odds with its immense wealth and its founding commitment to human rights.”

He added: “There is no other developed country where so many voters are disenfranchised and where so few poor voters even care to go to the polls.”

Alston delivered his comments alongside a draft report which he made public. His final report will be available in the spring of 2018 and will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in June of next year.

On his 15-day visit around the US, the Australian Alston, a law professor at New York University, visited Los Angeles, San Francisco, Alabama, Georgia, Puerto Rico and West Virginia. He spoke to low-income families and officials.

Alston said statistics from the US Census Bureau in September 2017 indicated more than 40m people – more than one in eight Americans – were living in poverty. Almost half of those, 18.5m, were living in deep poverty, with reported family income below half of the poverty threshold.

He said while it was frequently assumed that poor people belonged almost entirely to minority groups, but noted there were eight million more white people than African-Americans living in poverty. “The face of poverty in America is not only black or Hispanic, but also white, Asian and many other colors,” he said.

He said the tax and welfare reforms being proposed by Trump and the Republican leadership in Congress, were likely to have “devastating consequences” for the poorest 20 per cent of Americans.

“The proposed tax reform package stakes out America’s bid to become the most unequal society in the world,” Alston said.

“It will greatly increase the already high levels of wealth and income inequality between the richest one percent and the poorest 50 percent of Americans."

He added: “The dramatic cuts in welfare, foreshadowed by President Trump and Speaker Paul Ryan, and already beginning to be implemented by the administration, will essentially shred crucial dimensions of a safety net that is already full of holes.”


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