A new report released Monday by the Poor People’s Campaign and the Institute for Policy Studies declares that “the United States has abundant resources for an economic revival that will move towards establishing a moral economy” and details policies the country can pursue to combat systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, the war economy, and “the distorted moral narrative of religious nationalism.”

“Our state and national budgets prove that many of our elected leaders and their lobbyists treasure the military, corporate tax cuts, and welfare for the wealthy.”
—Rev. Drs. William Barber and Liz Theoharis

“Refusal to properly use our resources to address these five interlocking injustices is economically insane, constitutionally inconsistent, and morally indefensible,” Rev. Dr. William Barber from Repairers of the Breach told reporters Monday.

In the report’s foreword, Barber and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis of the Kairos Center—the Poor People’s Campaign co-chairs—explain how the Poor People’s Moral Budget: Everybody Has a Right to Live (pdf) builds on the campaign’s Moral Agenda, which was unveiled last year ahead of a series of direct actions nationwide.

“As Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has suggested, our state and national budgets prove that many of our elected leaders and their lobbyists treasure the military, corporate tax cuts, and welfare for the wealthy while they give rugged individualism, shame and blame, unfair wages, and a shredded social safety net to the poor,” write Barber and Theoharis.

“This is a willful act of policy violence,” they explain, “at a time when there are 140 million poor and low-income people—over 43.5 percent of the population—in the richest country in the history of the world.”

The budget proposal was published Monday as the campaign kicked off its three-day Poor People’s Moral Action Congress, which features a 2020 forum of several Democratic presidential hopefuls, including Former Vice President Joe Biden as well as Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), in Washington, D.C.

Organizers plan to ask candidates about their stances on policies to end poverty given the report’s findings. The forum will also be an opportunity for the candidates to “hear directly from those who have been left out of our debates and discussion for too long,” Barber and Theoharis wrote for The Hill Sunday.

“In a country whose constitution requires establishment of justice and promotion of the general welfare,” the co-chairs added, “we cannot refuse to talk specifically about how policies and budget decisions impact poor and low wealth people.”

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