U.N. Ambassador Dismisses Report on Extreme Poverty in America in Letter to Sanders

WASHINGTON, June 21 – In a letter to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) following his call for the Trump administration to uphold international human rights treaty obligations and present Congress with a plan to alleviate poverty, United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley dismissed a non-partisan U.N. report on extreme poverty in America as “politically motivated” and “misleading.” 

“It is patently ridiculous for the United Nations to examine poverty in America,” Haley wrote to Sanders on Thursday. “The Special Rapporteur wasted the UN’s time and resources, deflecting attention from the world’s worst human rights abusers and focusing instead on the wealthiest and freest country in the world.”

The U.N. report prepared by Special Rapporteur Philip Alston highlights the contrast between the few Americans with immense wealth and the more than 40 million people living in poverty, including millions living in what the report describes as “Third World conditions of absolute poverty.”

Sanders responded to Haley’s dismissal of the U.N.’s report. 

“You are certainly right in suggesting that poverty in many countries including the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi is far worse than it is in the United States. But what is important to note about poverty in America is that it takes place in the richest county in the history of the world and at a time when wealth and income inequality is worse than at any time since the 1920s,” he wrote to the ambassador. “As it happens, I personally believe that it is totally appropriate for the UN Special Rapporteur to focus on poverty in the United States.”

Despite low unemployment, 40 million people still live in poverty, more than 30 million have no health insurance, over half of older workers have no retirement savings, 140 million Americans are struggling to pay for basic living expenses, 40 percent of Americans cannot afford a $400 emergency and millions of Americans are leaving school deeply in debt. Additionally, more than 13 million American children live in poverty, more than 1 in 5 homeless individuals are children and the United States has the highest youth poverty rate and infant mortality rate among comparable nations.

“I hope you will agree,” Sanders wrote to Haley, “that in a nation in which the top three people own more wealth than the bottom half, we can and must do much better than that.

“I travel to New York every now and then and would love the opportunity to speak with you about these and other issues”

To read Haley’s letter, click here

To read Sanders’ response, click here.