Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich (D) on Sunday lashed out of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) after he refused to accept the Republican Party’s role in the increasing poverty and income inequality in the U.S.
During a panel discussion on ABC, Reich noted that Pope Francis had brought attention to the widening income inequality in the U.S.
Gingrich argued that it was time for the Democrats to give up on former President Lyndon B. Johnson’s so-called “war on poverty” — which included Medicare, Medicaid, food stamp and education initiatives — after 50 years because it wasn’t working.
“The war on poverty which next year we are going to celebrate the 50th anniversary in addition to the Civil Rights Act,” Reich interruped. “The war on poverty was successful for a time. What has happened, however, over the last 30 years is much of the, much of the ardor, much of the concern, much of what propelled that war on poverty has dissipated.”
“Why after five years of President Barack Obama, have we seen the problem worse?” ABC News correspondent Jonathan Karl wondered.
“Well the problem is worse; I think it has something to do, perhaps, with the intransigence of the Speaker’s Party,” Reich explained. “Because every time there was a jobs bill, every time there was an effort to expand a low income housing, every time there was an effort to provide better opportunities for young people — We’re talking about equal opportunity…”
“This is baloney!” Gingrich interrupted.
“At the basis of this, what is baloney?” Reich wondered.
“Here’s the baloney,” Gingrich declared. “Every major city which has a center of poverty is run by Democrats. Every major city. Their policies have failed, they’re not willing to admit it, and the fact is it’s the poor who suffer.”
“First of all, [former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg] is not a Democrat,” Reich shot back. “What’s happening in America is happening all over America. And it is happening in a way that has to do with the fact that wages, median wages, are going nowhere and rents are going up. And there’s absolutely no response in Washington or elsewhere.”
“Newt, I’m surprised you are not taking responsibility here,” he concluded.
Watch this video from ABC’s The Week, broadcast Dec. 15, 2013.