CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Nearly 50 million Americans live below the poverty line, according to the Census Bureau. These unlucky families struggle and flounder, while affluent society flourishes around them.
Republicans have become "enemies of the poor," Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman says. In Washington and in many state governments, the GOP opposes every plan to provide opportunity to left-out families.
"It's not much of an exaggeration to say that, right now, Republicans are doing all they can to hurt the poor -- and they would have inflicted vast additional harm if they had won the 2012 election," Krugman wrote.
For example, GOP leaders in numerous states refuse to expand Medicaid under the U.S. Affordable Care Act, "thereby denying health coverage to almost 5 million low-income Americans," Krugman said. Their refusal is little more than cruelty, because Medicaid expansion costs are borne almost entirely by the federal government, not by states.
The Nobel laureate continued:
"Meanwhile, those Republican-controlled states are slashing unemployment benefits, education financing and more. As I said, it's not much of an exaggeration to say that the GOP is hurting the poor as much as it can . . . . Bear in mind that every budget the GOP has offered since it took over the House in 2010 involves savage cuts in Medicaid, food stamps and other antipoverty programs."
He concluded: "A party committed to small government and low taxes on the rich is, more or less necessarily, a party committed to hurting, not helping, the poor . . . . Republicans are in a deep sense enemies of America's poor."
This raises a peculiar question, as follows:
West Virginia's poverty rate is almost the worst in America -- yet the state has turned "red," supporting the GOP ticket in every presidential election since 2000. Why do conservative mountain Appalachians back the party that hurts them relentlessly?
The West Virginia Encyclopedia says:
"West Virginia consistently ranks among the poorest states in the nation .... Statewide, 21.3 percent of families with children live in poverty."Why, for heaven's sake, do folks like these support the GOP? It seems senseless for poor people to vote for politicians who are "enemies of the poor."