Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, attended an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Monday, September 4, to discuss reports on Sunday of North Korea testing a hydrogen bomb. (Photo: Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)

As 'Wealthiest and Freest Country in the World,' Nikki Haley Tells Bernie Sanders It's 'Ridiculous' to Examine US Poverty

"As it happens, I personally believe that it is totally appropriate for the U.N. Special Rapporteur to focus on poverty in the United States," Sanders responded

Jake Johnson

Responding to Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-Vt.) call for the Trump administration take immediate action to address extreme poverty in the U.S. after a United Nations report found that tens of millions of Americans are suffering "massive levels of deprivation," U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley declared in a letter to Sanders on Thursday that it is "patently ridiculous" for the U.N. to even examine poverty in America because it is "the wealthiest and freest country in the world."

Sanders was quick to issue a forceful response to Haley on Thursday, arguing that the U.N. should examine widespread poverty in the U.S. precisely because it is the wealthiest nation on the planet.

"You are certainly right in suggesting that poverty in many countries including the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi is far worse than it is in the United States," Sanders wrote in a letter to Haley on Thursday. "But what is important to note about poverty in America is that it takes place in the richest county in the history of the world and at a time when wealth and income inequality is worse than at any time since the 1920s."

The Vermont senator continued:

As I'm sure you know, in America today despite low unemployment, some 40 million people still live in poverty, more than 30 million have no health insurance, over half of older workers have no retirement savings, 140 million Americans are struggling to pay for basic living expenses, 40 percent of Americans cannot afford a $400 emergency and millions of Americans are leaving school deeply in debt. I hope you will agree that in a nation in which the top three people own more wealth than the bottom half, we can and must do much better than that.

The scathing U.N. report that Haley denounced in her letter to Sanders as "misleading and politically motivated" found that more than 18 million Americans are living in "extreme poverty," and that the Trump administration's attacks on the remnants of America's social safety net are going to make this crisis worse.

In his response letter to Haley on Thursday, Sanders concluded: "As it happens, I personally believe that it is totally appropriate for the U.N. Special Rapporteur to focus on poverty in the United States."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

... We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Critics Warn Biden 'Summit for Democracy' Will Highlight Democrats' Failures at Home

"President Biden can't champion democracy across the globe without fulfilling his promise to protect our voting rights at home."

Jessica Corbett ·


'Like a Teenager Promising to Clean Their Room in 30 Years': Biden Net-Zero Climate Goal for 2050 Ridiculed

"2050 is an extremely weak goal for the federal government to free itself from climate-heating pollution. It ignores existing technology and adds decades to GSA's own commitment to 100% renewable energy by 2025."

Brett Wilkins ·


Biden Should Cancel Student Debt or Watch $85 Billion Evaporate From US Economy: Analysis

Far-reaching cancellation enacted by Biden could add more than $173 billion to the nation's GDP in 2022 alone.

Kenny Stancil ·


Given Cover by Red-Baiting GOP, Corporate Dems Rebuked for Tanking Biden Nominee for Top Bank Regulator

"If you think that Senate Democrats rose up to [Republicans'] shameful display of modern McCarthyism by rallying around President Biden's nominee or her ideas that banking should work for the middle class, then you don't know the soul of today's Democratic Party," wrote one columnist.

Julia Conley ·


'S.O.S.!': Groups in Red States Nationwide Plead With Democrats to Pass Voting Rights Bill

"We can tell you firsthand that our Republican senators have no interest in joining this effort."

Jake Johnson ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo