Sanders citied evidence that living in poverty greatly reduces access to health care and shortens life spans. “This is the first time in our history that children born in certain parts of the United States can expect to live shorter lives than their parents’ generation,” according to a report released at the hearing.
A separate Census Bureau report also released today said that more than 46 million Americans, about one in six, lived below the poverty line in 2010. The census report also said that that about 49.9 million Americans lacked health insurance, a number that soared by 13.3 million since 2000.
“Poverty in America today is a death sentence for tens and tens of thousands of our people which is why the high childhood poverty rate in our country is such an outrage,” Sanders said in an opening statement at the hearing.
The United States has both the highest overall poverty rate and the highest childhood poverty rate of any major industrialized country on earth, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. While 21.6 percent of American children live in poverty, the rate is 3.7 percent in Denmark, 5.3 percent in Finland, 6.7 percent in Iceland, 8.3 percent in Germany, 9.3 percent in France. “I suppose we can take some comfort in that our numbers are not quite as bad as Turkey (23.5 percent); Chile (24 percent); and Mexico (25.8 percent),” Sanders said.