U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley responded to Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Liz Warren (D-MA) Thursday after they wrote her to call attention to a report from UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights Philip Alston. Alston examined extreme poverty in the U.S. and claimed that the Trump administration was worsening the conditions of Americans living in poverty.
“It is patently ridiculous for the United Nations to examine poverty in America,” Haley wrote. “There is no question that poverty in America remains a serious concern, but it does no one any good to inaccurately describe its prevalence or its causes."
"I am deeply disappointed that the Special Rapporteur used his platform to make misleading and politically motivated statements about American domestic policy issues,” she continued.
Haley said the New York University professor’s report "categorically misstated the progress the United States has made in addressing poverty and purposely used misleading facts and figures in its biased reporting.”
One example of this “biased reporting” may include Alston’s claim in the report that President Trump’s tax reform awarded “financial windfalls” to the extremely wealthy and big companies, contributing to wealth inequality.
“The policies pursued over the past year seem deliberately designed to remove basic protections from the poorest,” Alston claimed, “punish those who are not in employment and make even basic health care into a privilege to be earned rather than a right of citizenship.”
However, as Reuters pointed out, “the data from the U.S. Census Bureau he (Alston) cited covers only the period through 2016, and he gave no comparative figures for before and after Trump came into office in January 2017.”
CNN ignored these facts in their reporting on Haley’s response simply saying that she “gave no examples” of Alston misstating America’s economic progress in her letter.
Haley also points out in her letter that Alston “is an independent individual whose reports are not endorsed by the United Nations. He was not following a UN assignment and made the conscious choice to visit the United States rather than visiting the poorest countries in the world.”
Alston’s report comes at a time in which the U.S. is experiencing record lows in unemployment under the Trump administration and a host of benefits from over 100 companies have resulted from the passage of the GOP’s tax reform.
Despite the historic job numbers, Sen. Sanders’s office replied to Haley’s letter by arguing that “despite low unemployment, 40 million people still live in poverty, more than 30 million have no health insurance, over half of older workers have no retirement savings, 140 million Americans are struggling to pay for basic living expenses, 40 percent of Americans cannot afford a $400 emergency and millions of Americans are leaving school deeply in debt.”
“I hope you will agree,” Sen. Sanders wrote to Haley, “that in a nation in which the top three people own more wealth than the bottom half, we can and must do much better than that.”