Deepak Bhargava: Poverty, Prosperity, and Politics [VIDEO]

Deepak Bhargava, Executive Director of the Center for Community Change Action, is calling on political leaders to think bigger when it comes to tackling economic equality. At PowerPAC+’s Race Will Win the Race Conference, Deepak laid out a set of concrete steps that could decrease poverty in America by 80% - if we elect leaders that are willing to take bold steps to counter the jobs crisis, wage inequality, and racialized opportunity barriers. Watch the video to hear Deepak’s plan for curbing the devastating impact of poverty in communities across the nation.

This video is part of the series, Replay: Race Will Win the Race 

Smart Policy + Elected Official = Social Change

"Electoral politics is a big part of determining the agenda that gets elected in our country. I want to talk a little bit today, we’re launching a major initiative this year to put the issue of poverty back on the national agenda. A ten year effort to put the voices, the perspective, the agenda of low income people on the national political discourse agenda. My proposition to you is that these issues of poverty, good jobs, economic fairness, really are at the heart of any agenda that is going to be designed to appeal to the rising American electorate in our country."

The Stage is Set

"The recent polling that’s been done really shows dramatically how powerfully resonant issues of increasing the minimum wage, the support for reducing poverty, for a major expanded role for government are in communities of color. There’s enormous movement happening in the country and Ingrid can speak to this very well. But the power of the fast food workers in motion, Seattle passing the country’s highest minimum wage at $15.00 an hour. Workers in a whole variety of sectors, from retail to care work organizing. The salience that we saw in the New York mayoral election of issues of inequality and class and race being at the heart of what resulted in de Blasio’s victory."

3 Ways We're Addressing Poverty in this Country

"There are three areas that I want to lay out that are at the heart of this new campaign on poverty that we’re addressing. The first is to bring wages and productivity into alignment. So what we’ve seen over the last forty years in this country is even as productivity of workers has generated more wealth, that wealth is not being shared by them. If the poverty rate had kept pace with economic growth in this period, as it did in the previous thirty years, the poverty rate would have dropped to zero in the 1986 and stayed there ever since, despite the great recession. That is what a big factor the uneven distribution between labor and capital is in our economy. The predominance of people of color and women in the low wage work force make this a central issue. The issue of raising wages, giving workers the ability to bargain collectively around standards in the workplace is a fundamental and should be a motivating issue going forward."

"The second issue is the jobs crisis. It may be felt in some corners of Washington and the Beltway that we’re through the Great Recession. We’re not through the Great Recession. There is a jobs catastrophe that continues to unfold in poor communities and communities of color around the country.  We need full employment to be articulated as a central, national, overriding,  compelling priority again. It’s disappeared from the national debate, and it needs to be put back on the agenda."  

"There’s a role for government, and there’s a role for the private sector, but let’s be clear: the market alone will not solve the problem. So, articulating a bold job creation strategy has to be a key piece."

"The third part of the agenda is being very clear about the racialized obstacles that exist for millions of people in this country to advancing in the economy.  We have a criminal justice system that has produced millions of people behind bars who are unable to meaningfully reintegrate into the economy and society when they come out, at huge cost not just to them, but to their families, whole neighborhoods, whole cities, with devastating consequences for our economy as whole. The loss of human talent and potential is enormous.  We’ll talk about the immigration aspect in a minute, I know, but the economic aspect of millions of people living without basic rights, and their ability to be hyper-exploited in the economy has to be a central part of an economic agenda."

"What we need is politicians who are capable of articulating a much broader agenda, a much bolder agenda on economic justice. My proposition is that if we see that over the next few years, that’ll be the right thing for our economy, it’ll be the right thing for the country, and it will be a winner politically in the elections to come.  So, thank you very much."


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