Tens of millions of Americans live in poverty, but this book reveals that they receive very little representation in Congress. While a burgeoning literature examines the links between political and economic inequality, this book is the first to comprehensively examine the poor as a distinct constituency. Drawing on three decades of data on political speeches, party platforms, and congressional behavior, Miler first shows that, contrary to what many believe, the poor are highly visible to legislators. Yet, the poor are grossly underrepresented when it comes to legislative activity, both by Congress as a whole and by individual legislators, even those who represent high-poverty districts. To take up their issues in Congress, the poor must rely on a few surrogate champions who have little district connection to poverty but view themselves as broader advocates and often see poverty from a racial or gender-based perspective.
Table of Contents
1. What about the poor?; 2. The political visibility of the poor; 3. Congressional inaction for the poor; 4. Congressional unresponsiveness to the poor; 5. Legislators' unresponsiveness to the poor; 6. Surrogate champions for the poor; 7. Positioned for legislative success; 8. Achieving better representation.