The LORD rises to argue his case;
he stands to judge the peoples.
The LORD enters into judgement
with the elders and princes of his people:
It is you who have devoured the vineyard;
the spoil of the poor is in your houses.
What do you mean by crushing my people,
by grinding the face of the poor? says the Lord GOD of hosts.
- Isaiah 3: 13-15 (NRSV)
"The number of Americans living in poverty has risen each year Bush has been president, increasing to 37 million in 2004 from 31.6 million in 2000," reported The Washington Post this morning. The president took notice of poverty for the first time of his tenure in the White House as poor people drowned and went hungry in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Poverty forced its way to the top of President Bush's agenda in the confusing days after Hurricane Katrina battered the Gulf Coast and flooded New Orleans. Confronted with one of the most pressing political crises of his presidency, Bush, who in the past had faced withering criticism for speaking little about the poor, said the nation has a solemn duty to help them.
"All of us saw on television, there's . . . some deep, persistent poverty in this region," he said in a prime-time speech from New Orleans's Jackson Square, 17 days after the Aug. 29 hurricane. "That poverty has roots in a history of racial discrimination, which cut off generations from the opportunity of America. We have a duty to confront this poverty with bold action."
"Bush has talked little about the issue since the immediate crisis passed" and his policies before and after seem to be designed to intentionally harm those Jesus called the "least of these" in favor of economic policies that benefit the wealthiest of Americans. This year the president opposed an increase in the minimum wage and has proposed cuts in homeless programs, children's programs and programs to feed elderly people.