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The ‘War on Poverty’: Testimony from a low-income mother

Paul Ryan didn't invite any actual low-income people to speak at his hearing. But Tianna Gaines-Turner submitted her own powerful testimony. You'll want to know what she says--even if Rep. Paul didn't.
/ Source: Melissa Harris Perry

Paul Ryan didn't invite any actual low-income people to speak at his hearing. But Tianna Gaines-Turner submitted her own powerful testimony. You'll want to know what she says--even if Rep. Paul didn't.

After she was not allowed to testify in person, Tianna Gaines-Turner of Witnesses to Hunger sent in written testimony to Rep. Paul Ryan and the House Budget Committee about her family’s current experience living in poverty.

Taking up rhetorical arms in what President Lyndon Johnson called the “War on Poverty” fifty years ago, Republican Rep. Paul Ryan alleged that it has “failed miserably” and hosted a Wednesday hearing on Capitol Hill to offer a progress report on that fight. Thing is, Ryan didn’t bother to invite a single person who is actually living in poverty.

Host Melissa Harris-Perry and her panel last weekend saw this coming. A few days before the hearing, Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee, who lived on public assistance herself in the 1970s, issued a call from the #nerdland set for Ryan to invite her fellow panelist, Tianna Gaines-Turner, to testify (see video below). Lee promised that she’d demand an invitation and followed up early in the week.

Gaines-Turner, who was making her second appearance on Melissa Harris-Perry to discuss her family’s food insecurity and reliance on SNAP benefits, was not allowed to testify at the hearing. But she was permitted to submit prepared written testimony to the House Budget Committee, which Ryan chairs. An excerpt: