In the Arena

Poor People’s caucus

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This came in the mail from Nathan Britton:

Hey Joe,

While I don’t think that the CBC will be disbanding anytime soon, you should know that you were closer than you knew with your suggestion of a “poor people’s caucus”: earlier this year, members of the CBC, CAPAC and CHC have come together to form the “Out of Poverty Caucus.”

My boss, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) joined with members of the Congressional Black Caucus, Representatives John Conyers (D-MI) and G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), Representative Mike Honda (D-CA) of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus and Representative Joe Baca of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to form the Congressional Out-of-Poverty Caucus. The group was formally recognized by the House Administration Committee as an official membership organization of the 110th Congress in January.

It now has 23 members. Here’s a list of the briefings they put on earlier this year:

1/22/07- From Poverty To Prosperity: Latinos Moving up the Economic Ladder

2/8/07- Hidden Struggle: Poverty in the Asian American & Pacific Islander Community

2/15/07- Poverty in Indian Country: Symptoms & Solutions

2/28- Poverty in the African American Community

Anyway, let me know if I can provide further information.

Nathan tells me that the group also has Caucasian members and rural poverty is definitely on the agenda. All in all, great news.

Update: Reader Aaron wonders:

Does Joe Klein still suggest that the “CBC should disband itself” or not? Why or why not?

Yes, I do. I think the Democratic Party’s venture into “identity politics” has been a 40-year disaster. If there was ever a rationale for a separate “black” caucus, it is rapidly diminishing with the new generation of African-American politicians who are intent on appealing to voters across racial lines.
I’ve written in the past about the squalid bargain between inner city blacks and conservative suburban Republican state legislators to draw the lines to create majority-minority districts. This has resulted in a significant loss in Democratic Congressional seats across the south–and also in a more divisive politics, in which politicians of both races can pander to their specific groups and the greater good is lost. This is an issue that Democratic politicians, and most journalists, find too hot to talk about publicly, Privately, many elected Democrats–both black (at least, among the younger cohort) and white–say that it’s been a calamity for the party.