Together we can fight for what’s right
2018 is a turning point for our country. This election will have consequences for decades to come, especially for people who are living in poverty.
This is not the time to close our hearts, minds, or borders. This is the time to vote.
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What issues are we focused on?
Our economy is not working for everyone. Economic growth has helped deliver massive wealth to a tiny economic elite, while millions of people scrape by on poverty wages. The 1% now controls more wealth than the rest of us combined, and things are only getting worse. The poorest 10% of people in the world have seen their average annual income rise by less than $3 and their daily income rise by less than one cent every year. The poorest people have been hit hardest–particularly women who suffer high levels of economic discrimination, work in the lowest paid jobs, and take on the lion’s share of unpaid care work.
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This election is crucial to the fight for fair wages, so workers can rise out of poverty and for pushing back against big companies that rig our political system for their own benefit at the expense of everyone else.
What goes up is failing to come back down. An increasingly complex system of tax havens and an industry of wealth managers guarantee that the wealth of the world’s richest stays far away from the reach of governments and ordinary citizens. An estimated $7.6 trillion is being hidden in tax havens by the wealthiest of the world. Broken tax systems must be repaired to ensure those with the most are putting money back into the economy for the benefit of us all.
These problems cannot be solved by cutting taxes for big companies and the rich and expecting the benefits to trickle down.
Congress and President Trump passed a trillion-dollar tax cut for big businesses and the rich. Every day, they work to roll back rules that protect workers and their wages. Some politicians are already clamoring to pass more tax cuts for millionaires, paid for with cuts to essential services like Medicare, Medicaid, SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), and global anti-poverty assistance. Meanwhile, one in nine full-time workers in the US are too poor to make ends meet.
The economy is good at producing billionaires—a new one every two days—but not so good at producing good jobs and rising incomes for working people. Our political leaders must stand up for the rest of us, not just the ones with the highest-paid lobbyists.
Refugees & migration
Millions of people today are fleeing conflict, disaster, poverty, inequality, and the effects of climate change. More people than ever before–68 million–have been forced to flee their homes because of conflict, persecution, and violence.
This election is crucial to carry on America’s legacy as the beacon of light in times of crisis, welcoming those who have been forced from their homes and have nowhere else to turn.
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Some politicians want to abandon this legacy and close our hearts to those seeking asylum and refuge. We need elected officials to fight to defend our most valuable freedoms and principles.
Seeking safety in America is the last resort for people who have been forced to flee and have lost everything. They’ve run out of options. That’s why the United States must do its part for refugees. We must stand together as one global community against the same intolerance and fear that drove so many people to flee their homes in the first place.
Currently, the administration's complex migration framework, coupled with new anti-refugee and immigrant policies, such as the travel ban, has created confusion for those fleeing crisis. Because less than 1% of the global refugee population is resettled, President Trump’s decision to decrease the amount of refugees admitted to the US by 82% will have widespread ramifications.
One of the biggest barriers to creating meaningful reform is the harmful rhetoric surrounding refugees. Trying to score political points on the backs of innocent people is not only despicable, it is un-American. And the fact is, it is spreading misinformation. There is clear evidence that refugees revitalize the communities in which they are living. They are more likely to start businesses than other immigrants, or even US-born citizens. Furthermore, their contributions to the American economy are hugely substantial: 13% were entrepreneurs (versus 9% of US born citizens); their median household income after 25 years in the US is $67,000 ($14,000 more than the median for all US households); and in 2015, they paid a total of $20.9 billion in taxes.
What makes America great is our diversity of experiences, ideas, talents, and the opportunity for anyone to succeed. But it’s also about helping and welcoming the most vulnerable to secure life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
As a nation founded on principles of religious freedom, applying religious tests to our refugee resettlement program is an affront to American values. Their ability to resettle in the US should not be determined by their religion, nationality, or any other status: it should be based on demonstrated need.
Climate change is an issue of life and death; it is an existential crisis for every man, woman, and child regardless of national identity, class, religion, or culture. And it impacts the poorest and most vulnerable first and worst. Increasing water scarcity, flooding, and extreme weather events are making a huge impact on the livelihoods of millions worldwide and here at home.
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In the last two decades alone, the total number of natural disasters quadrupled, with the number of people affected increasing by 76 million a year. Although the carbon footprint of the world’s one billion poorest people represents just 3% of the global total, poor people are the most affected by the effects of climate change. Those in developing countries are more than 20 times as likelyto be affected by climate-related disasters as those in the developed world. In the US, low-income American families, communities of color, immigrants, and Native American communities are often the least able to respond to and recover from these environmental hazards.
Furthermore, because many women in developing countries depend on rainfall to water their crops and are typically responsible for providing their household’s water, food, and fuel supply, their livelihoods are particularly vulnerable to drought, water shortage, and natural disasters. As a result, they are less likely to have the education, opportunities, and resources they need to adapt to the impacts of climate change.
President Trump has been unraveling America’s commitments to the global fight against climate change. He has disregarded US political and economic interests, global stability, and national security, catering to the fossil fuel industry and corporate elites, while leaving the most vulnerable high and dry. According to a report by a panel of retired US generals and admirals, climate change acts as a “threat multiplier for instability” in the most volatile regions of the world. By 2025, 40 percent of the world’s population will be living in countries experiencing significant water shortages—which in turn could worsen existing tensions over water in conflict-affected regions like the Middle East.
Our elected officials should be willing to acknowledge the reality of climate change, and forge solutions that protect our planet now and for future generations. And as we chart our collective fight on climate change, we must not forget the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable who are on the front lines.
Only political leadership in Congress that recognizes the reality of climate change can prevent these shortsighted choices from doing harm to us and our children. Despite President Trump’s actions, the Paris Agreement will endure, with nearly 200 other nations working together on creating a low carbon, clean energy global economy. American businesses, governors, mayors and civil society are already taking the mantle and leading the fight against climate change.
The majority of Americans support foreign aid and believe foreign aid bolsters the global economy and can prevent international conflict. While the administration aims to dramatically cut the foreign aid budget, the majority of Americans want otherwise. 63% of the US public believes that foreign aid spending should be higher than the current level. Our members of Congress should be listening.
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The only thing stopping these cuts from decimating essential lifesaving programs are members of Congress who listen to their constituents, understand the criticial importance of foreign assistance, and are willing to defend the most effective anti-poverty programs in the federal budget. These investments add up to less than 1% of the federal budget, and they do enormous good in the world.
It is easy for people to be misled by the various myths that exist about the US foreign aid budget. While many believe the US spends more than 26% of its budget on aid, the reality is that less than 1% of America’s budget is spent on poverty-reducing aid. As of October 2017, the US government spent $89.44 on development aid per person per year.
Cutting foreign aid will not balance the budget or make a dent in the debt, but it will cost lives and send a devastating and irrevocable message to partners around the world that they can’t rely on the United States any more. Undercutting our cooperation with allies around the world will not make the United States more powerful, or the world more deferential, but it will pull the rug out from under the only humanitarian and collective security system we have.
The United States cannot avoid the global challenges of the 21st century by going it alone, turning our backs, or putting up walls. The breadth and scale of the refugee crisis, the threat from climate change, and the fight against poverty demand that we work with other countries and forge solutions that are equal to the challenge. Our elected officials must protect foreign aid.
US leadership in the world
This election is crucial for America’s continuing leadership in the world. Nations must work together to solve the problems they can’t solve alone. Principled internationalism has been a hallmark of American foreign policy for decades. To turn our backs now would not only betray this legacy, but also the system of global cooperation that works for the benefit of all rather than privileging the interests of a few.
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Especially at this time of unprecedented global crisis—with more people forced to flee their homes than ever since World War II, inequality reaching staggering heights in developed and developing countries alike, and the effects of climate change threatening to alter the very face of this planet we all call home—we must not turn our back on the international order.
The United States best fulfills its founding promise when it works together with the international community to solve the problems that no one nation can solve alone. The United States can achieve a great deal of its agenda as a partner or none of it as an antagonist.
Why is Oxfam concerned?
Oxfam America is a non-partisan organization. We do not support or oppose any political party or any candidates. We work to hold elected officials accountable and fight to protect the poor and most vulnerable people we serve—around the world, and here in the US.
We have a long history of working effectively in a pluralistic America. We have criticized and praised presidents and elected officials from both parties. It disturbs us that in a world as rich as ours, many of us go hungry or don’t have clean water. Many of us can’t claim our human rights. It’s wrong. But together, we can work toward making things right.