MSNBC Uses Pandemic to Trash Reagan: 'Demonized' the Poor

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On Saturday's Velshi show, as MSNBC host Ali Velshi again used the coronavirus pandemic to promote an increase in welfare and socialism in the U.S., MSNBC contributor Eddie Glaude made time to go all the way back to the Ronald Reagan administration as he complained about an "ideology" "that has demonized poor people" for decades.

At 8:19 a.m. Eastern, after suggesting that, rather than the Mardi Gras celebrations, poverty is to blame for a spike in coronavirus in New Orleans, host Velshi posed:

ALI VELSHI: The fact is, this may be our one opportunity in 15 years to rethink poverty, and the fact that being poor isn't your fault. You shouldn't have to not get health care or not get treatment or not be able to isolate yourself because you don't have insurance if you don't have a job.

After noting criticism of big government in the past several decades, Glaude claimed that the poor have been "demonized" as he invoked Reagan:

EDDIE GLAUDE: But for 40 years we've also had an ideology, Ali, that has demonized poor people. When we go back to Ronald Reagan's presidency, we know that poverty increased by 2.2 million Americans during his first year. We know he attacked welfare -- we know he attacked food stamps -- we know very clearly the rhetoric around poor people, that poor people are poor because they aren't doing what they're supposed to do.

A bit later, Glaude blamed racism for the absence of more socialism in the United States. Velshi again pushed socialized medicine as he posed:

ALI VELSHI: Eddie, why is it so unusual for us? Because every other major developed country in the world does offer universal health care. In most of those countries, it is not tied to your employment. You lose your job -- that is a remarkably traumatic experience -- but, in America, if you lose your job, you worry about something entirely separate than you do in Canada and Great Britain and Switzerland and Germany and France and these other places. Why are we not able to think about the human first?

The liberal MSNBC contributor immediately went to racism as he began his answer:

GLAUDE: You know, Ali, I think it has something to do with our racist past. And not to just simply play the race card as some people might say -- but there is this idea that the welfare state, right, takes from deserving people, their hard-earned work, and give it to undeserving people. That the critique of big government has been it has allowed those undeserving people to jump ahead of the line. So we're still grappling with the fact that race has already determined the very ways which we think about democracy.

Below is a transcript of relevant portions of the Saturday, March 28, Velshi show on MSNBC:

8:19 a.m. Eastern

ALI VELSHI: The fact is, this may be our one opportunity in 15 years to rethink poverty, and the fact that being poor isn't your fault. You shouldn't have to not get health care or not get treatment or not be able to isolate yourself because you don't have insurance if you don't have a job.

EDDIE GLAUDE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: You know, Ali, you're absolutely right. Look, there are 41 million Americans who live below the federal poverty level -- there are 143 million Americans who are income insecure -- that is, they are either poor or low-income. And so we know that poverty and inequality are multipliers, right, for the transmission and, in some ways, the mortality over everyone, right?

And so part of what we have to do is begin to challenge the way of which we have framed poverty in this country. In the last segment, you talked about that for 40 years we have had a discourse or an ideology that has in some ways demonized big government. But for 40 years we've also had an ideology, Ali, that has demonized poor people. When we go back to Ronald Reagan's presidency, we know that poverty increased by 2.2 million Americans during his first year. We know he attacked welfare -- we know he attacked food stamps -- we know very clearly the rhetoric around poor people, that poor people are poor because they aren't doing what they're supposed to do.

And we've seen over the course of these decades a systematic further marginalization of the most vulnerable. So part of what we need -- and we heard this with Dr. King in 1967 and we hear it with Reverend Barber and the Poor People's Campaign today -- is that we need a transvaluation of values. We need to change how we think of the common good. Otherwise, we're going to see disaster capitalism. We're going to see those folks who have already experienced the disaster of American inequality deepen in their vulnerability precisely because of this disease.

(…)

ALI VELSHI: Eddie, why is it so unusual for us? Because every other major developed country in the world does offer universal health care. In most of those countries, it is not tied to your employment. You lose your job -- that is a remarkably traumatic experience -- but, in America, if you lose your job, you worry about something entirely separate than you do in Canada and Great Britain and Switzerland and Germany and France and these other places. Why are we not able to think about the human first?

GLAUDE: You know, Ali, I think it has something to do with our racist past. And not to just simply play the race card as some people might say -- but there is this idea that the welfare state, right, takes from deserving people, their hard-earned work, and give it to undeserving people. That the critique of big government has been it has allowed those undeserving people to jump ahead of the line. So we're still grappling with the fact that race has already determined the very ways which we think about democracy.

And, in an ironic way, it has impacted white people -- poor white people in a specific sort of way. Just think about this, Ali. A division of the Pew Charitable Trust did an analysis, and between 2016 and 2018, poverty increased in 30 percent of U.S. counties. So just in two years, in the Trump administration, we're seeing poverty increase, right, across the board, and particularly among vulnerable white Americans, all right? So part of this has to do with us having to re-imagine ourselves in a way that white people aren't valued more than others, that people with money aren't valued more than others. And that's a moral question that's tied to the economic and health crisis that we're experiencing right now.

NB Daily Health Care Coronavirus Medical Insurance Poverty Welfare Race Issues Racism MSNBC Video Eddie Glaude Ali Velshi Ronald Reagan