29 July 2015, The Tablet

Presidential candidates explain how they would combat poverty

Presidential candidatesUS presidential candidates have begun speaking about poverty, and what they will do about it, in three-minute videos requested by a coalition of more than 100 faith groups that includes the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The group, called the Circle of Protection, was formed four years ago to protect programmes that assist the poor from budget cuts.

The videos included proposals and accomplishments ranging such as cutting taxes, changing domestic violence laws, raising the minimum wage, making higher education more affordable and strengthening private organisations so they can better meet the needs of poor people.

Having seven videos in hand thus far buoyed the efforts of the Circle of Protection members that poverty and hunger would become key issues in a presidential campaign that already is high gear.

As of Tuesday, five Republicans and two Democrats had submitted videos. Republicans included former Florida Governor Jeb Bush; retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson; Senator Ted Cruz of Texas; Carly Fiorina, former Hewlett Packard CEO; and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. Democratic candidates included former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

The Circle of Protection said at least four other candidates have pledged to submit videos including Hillary Clinton, a Democrat and former secretary of state, and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, all Republicans.

Ted Cruz said in his video: “It's going to be folks like us, not some programme out of Washington that’s going to do it [address poverty]. The heroes of the anti-poverty movement are you.”

Mike Huckabee, whose 2008 presidential bid won a lot of support from Evangelical voters, also criticised government programmes and said he did not support raising the minimum wage.

Bernie Sanders, a socialist running for the Democratic nomination, called for an end to tax breaks for the wealthy and said he supports raising the minimum wage from its current US$7.25 an hour to $15 per hour.

The videos can be viewed here.

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