Commentary: Let’s help our presidential candidates achieve their promises

By Jim Russell
Empire Press Correspondent

Unpaid volunteers from Wenatchee representing the international nonprofit bipartisan organization One (one.org) are traveling to Washington, D.C. to lobby Congress to eliminate extreme poverty by 2030. One.org reports since 1990 the worldwide fight has reduced poverty 65 percent towards its goal to eliminate poverty by 2030. Poverty is defined as income under $1.90 a day, according to the World Bank.

Michelle Shermer of Wenatchee, chair of the Wenatchee One chapter, emailed me that she and others were scheduled to receive reports on the Global Fund’s progress and celebrate the recent passage of the Electrify Africa Bill to expand electricity to millions in rural Africa. Both 4th District Rep. Dan Newhouse and 8th District Rep. Dave Reichert voted to support the legislation as did Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell.

Most of the media attention attention in the U.S. is on the presidential campaign. The irony is the candidates could be promising to fight extreme poverty as a sure-fire way to help fulfill their campaign promises. Once we understand the strategy to eliminate poverty, we as voters can help our candidates promise to support the fight.

The Global Fund was established in 2002 as a partnership between governments, civil society, the private sector and people affected by diseases such as AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. One has been successful in reducing poverty by fighting these diseases. Governments donate 95 percent of funding worldwide, with the rest coming from private donors and special financing. The U.S. has been a contributor to the fund for years and the Wenatchee lobbyists hope to increase it.

Shermer said this year volunteers have been trained on the importance of nutrition programs and will, “top it all off with a trip to Capitol Hill during the week of March 7-11 to lobby for the Global Fund and nutrition programs.” She hoped to visit the office of Rep. Newhouse to gain his support.

Ending poverty has bipartisan support for the economic, political and moral well-being of our country.

From my perspective, all the presidential candidates should support it. It would be an ideal goal to “Make America Great Again,” as Donald Trump promises; “Make America Whole Again,” as Hillary Clinton promises; take a step towards the revolution to “Reduce Income Disparity,” as Bernie Sanders promises; and build a “New American Century,” as Marco Rubio promises.

One has asked candidates to submit videos of commitment that would be posted on the One website (onevote16.org). Rubio, Clinton and Sanders have submitted videos.

Clinton discussed her work as secretary of state in providing more opportunities for girls and women. Rubio wears a bracelet signifying his support and told an audience that American taxpayers should be proud of their generosity. Sanders spoke about One’s progress in eliminating disease and poverty saying, “poverty is the greatest economic, moral and political issue of our time.”

One asks viewers to urge their candidates, “to go ‘on the record’ with a video statement of what they’ll do to fight extreme poverty, if elected.”

The promise is reasonable and pays off. The current U.S. federal commitment is less than 1 percent of our federal budget. We can do more.

One is focusing support for nutritional education and infrastructure to deliver healthy food because investments generate $16 in benefits for every $1 invested.

Healthy mothers who breastfeed their children exclusively for the first six months raise children who are 14 times more likely to survive, according to One.

Poverty causes people to spend 60 to 80 percent of their income on food instead of consumable products and services.

All of these disastrous humanitarian effects of malnutrition help explain why poverty-suppressed nations lose 2 to 16 percent of their national productivity.

Urge our candidates to express their plans to eliminate extreme poverty. It’s less than 1 percent of our national budget and is politically, economically and morally the right thing to do.