"Poor" in America - Peter Edelman

  • Aired:  07/26/11
  •  | Views: 29,321

Peter Edelman explains why America can't call the troops home and beat its plowshares back into swords when it comes to fighting the war on poverty. (4:22)

POOR PEOPLE SEEM TO LOVE THOSE

THINGS.

JOINING ME NOW TO APOLOGIZE FOR

THE GREAT SOCIETY IS THE

ASSOCIATE DEAN OF GEORGETOWN LAW

SCHOOL.

PLEASE WELCOME PETER EDELMAN.

MR. EDELMAN?

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

>> THANK YOU.

THANK YOU.

>> Stephen: NOW, SIR, LET'S

GET YOUR C.V. OUT HERE.

YOU BATTLED POVERTY FOR OVER 50

YEARS.

YOU WORKED AS A LEGISLATIVE

ASSISTANT FOR ROBERT KENNEDY IN

THE SENATE.

>> YES.

>> Stephen: ASSISTANT

SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN

SERVICES IN THE CLINTON

ADMINISTRATION WHERE YOU

RESIGNED OVER WELFARE REFORM.

>> YES.

>> Stephen: OKAY, AND NOW

YOU'RE WRITING A BOOK ABOUT THE

BATTLE WITH POVERTY AND THE

FUTURE OF THAT STRUGGLE IN

AMERICA.

WE'VE WON THE WAR ON POVERTY,

HAVEN'T WE?

>> NO.

>> Stephen: I READ THIS

REPORT.

THERE AREN'T ANY POOR PEOPLE

ANYMORE.

(LAUGHTER)

WHY CAN'T WE JUST, YOU KNOW,

CALL THE TROOPS HOME AND BEAT

OUR PLOW SHARES BACK INTO

SWORDS?

(AUDIENCE REACTS)

>> I WISH WE COULD.

YOU KNOW, WHAT ABOUT FARM

WORKERS?

CALIFORNIA?

>> Stephen: THEY HAVE ALL THE

FOOD THEY CAN EAT, SIR.

OKAY, WHAT'S YOUR NEXT EVIDENCE?

>> BUT DO THEY HAVE XBOXS?

>> Stephen: NO, BECAUSE

THEY'RE BEING HOGGED BY ALL THE

REST OF THE POOR!

>> I SEE.

>> Stephen: NOW, THE OFFICIAL

CLASSIFICATION FOR POOR IN THE

UNITED STATES IS A FAMILY OF

FOUR WITH INCOME UNDER $22,000 A

YEAR.

DO YOU THINK THAT'S POOR?

>> I THINK IT'S HARD TO LIVE ON

THAT, ACTUALLY.

>> Stephen: $22,000 A YEAR.

YOU COULD BUY 110 XBOXES.

(LAUGHTER)

>> YEAH, WELL, YOU COULD...

>> Stephen: WELL, THEY SEEM TO

BE SPENDING ALL THEIR MONEY ON

THAT.

>> HOW WOULD YOU PAY YOUR RENT

THEN?

YOU KNOW, THERE ARE... I'M SO

INTERESTED IN THIS REPORT.

THERE'S SIX MILLION PEOPLE IN

THIS COUNTRY WHOSE ONLY INCOME

IS FOOD STAMPS.

ONLY INCOME IS FOOD STAMPS WHICH

IS FOR THAT FAMILY THAT YOU WERE

TALKING ABOUT, THAT'S ABOUT 25%

OF THE POVERTY LINE, THAT'S ALL

THEY HAVE.

SO I DON'T KNOW WHO'S GOT ALL

THESE XBOXES.

(LAUGHTER).

>> Stephen: YOU SAW THE STATS.

I MEAN, THOSE ARE NUMBERS, SIR.

>> YEAH, THOSE ARE NUMBERS.

>> Stephen: ARE YOU SAYING

THAT NUMBERS ARE LYING?

>> OH!

>> Stephen: I DON'T SEE ANY...

LISTEN...

(LAUGHTER).

SIR.

..

>> THE FACT IS, RIGHT NOW FOOD

STAMPS ARE REALLY HELPING PEOPLE

IN THIS COUNTRY.

WE HAVE 44 MILLION PEOPLE IN THE

MIDDLE OF THIS RECESSION HA ARE

GETTING THAT HELP AND I'M GLAD

WE DO.

>> Stephen: WELL, FOR ONLY

ABOUT ONE MORE WEEK BECAUSE IF

WE DON'T RAISE THE DEBT CEILING

THAT'S ONE OF THE THINGS THAT

WILL BE CUT RIGHT AWAY.

>> WELL, I AM WORRIED ABOUT THE

FACT THAT THERE'S SO MANY PEOPLE

IN THIS COUNTRY WHO ARE NOT

PAYING THEIR FAIR SHARE OF WHAT

WE NEED TO DO IN THIS COUNTRY.

>> Stephen: HERE IT COMES.

GO AHEAD.

I'M A RICH GUY, ATTACK ME.

ATTACK ME.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

>> YES, ABSOLUTELY.

>> Stephen: AS A RICH GUY, LET

ME TELL YOU: I DON'T SEE ANY

POOR PEOPLE AROUND MY GATED

COMMUNITY.

(LAUGHTER)

AND I HAVEN'T CHECKED THE TRAPS

LATELY...

(AUDIENCE REACTS)

BUT IF I DON'T SEE EVIDENCE OF

IT, IF I'M WATCHING FOX NEWS AND

I DON'T SEE ANY EVIDENCE OF POOR

PEOPLE OR IF I DO SEE POOR

PEOPLE THEY LOOK PRETTY WELL

OFF, WHY SHOULD I SUPPORT

HELPING POOR PEOPLE?

>> THAT'S A PROBLEM.

>> Stephen: NOT MY PROBLEM.

THAT'S THE POOR PEOPLE'S

PROBLEM.

WHY DID THEY CHOOSE TO BE POOR?

(LAUGHTER)

>> THEY CHOSE TO BE POOR?

DID THEY...

>> Stephen: POOR IS A CHOICE.

LIKE GUY GAY.

>> 19 MILLION PEOPLE CHOSE TO

HAVE INCOMES BELOW THE POVERTY

LINE?

>> Stephen: YEAH.

>> SIX MILLION PEOPLE CHOSE TO

HAVE ONLY INCOME OF FOOD STAMPS?

>> Stephen: IT'S CALLED THE

PROTESTANT WORK ETHIC.

GET UP A LITTLE EARLIER.

YOU HAVE TO HUCKER DOWN, YOU

HAVE TO WANT IT.

>> GO OUT TO FIND THAT JOB

THAT'S REALLY OUT THERE RIGHT

TODAY.

>> Stephen: YEAH.

>> HMM.

>> Stephen: DO YOU HAVE A JOB.

>> I DO.

>> Stephen: I HAVE A JOB.

ARE WE BETTER THAN POOR PEOPLE?

>> NO.

>> Stephen: THEN WHY DO WE

HAVE JOBS AND THEY DON'T?

>> YOU GOT ME THERE.

>> Stephen: IF WE DON'T GET TO

SEE THE POOR PEOPLE-- AND WE

GENERALLY DON'T GET TO SEE THE

POOR PEOPLE.

>> WOULD YOU GO WITH ME SOME

SOMETIMES AND I'LL SHOW YOU POOR

PEOPLE.

>> Stephen: DID YOU BRING ANY

POOR PEOPLE WITH YOU?

I WAS HOPING THIS WAS GOING TO

BE ONE OF THOSE JACK HANNA

SEGMENTS WHERE YOU BRING ME ON A

BABY POOR FOR ME TO HOLD.

(LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE)

>> I CAN DO THAT.

>> Stephen: MAYBE NEXT TIME.

THANK YOU, MR. EDELMAN.

FROM GEORGETOWN, UNIVERSITY.

DON'T GO ANYWHERE, PETER

EDELMAN.

WE'LL BE RIGHT BACK!

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)