While President Obama and Gov. Romney battle for the hearts and minds of the middle class this election season, there's a huge swath of Americans that are largely ignored. It's the poor, and their ranks are growing.
According to a recent survey by The Associated Press, the number of Americans living at or below the poverty line will reach its highest point since President Johnson made his famous declaration of war on poverty in 1964.
Nearly 50 years ago, the Supreme Court ruled that people accused of a crime deserve the right to a defense lawyer, no matter whether they can afford to pay for one. But there's no such guarantee when it comes to civil disputes — like evictions and child custody cases — even though they have a huge impact on people's lives.
For decades, federal and state governments have pitched in to help. But money pressures mean the system for funding legal aid programs for the poor is headed toward a crisis.
In Europe, the concept of austerity has meant deep, painful cuts to government spending. In India, however, austerity looks a little different.
India's government has started by reeling in departmental spending on things like hotel space and foreign travel. It may seem like window dressing, but it can be difficult to make deep spending cuts in that country. Many voters see government largesse as a right and usually applaud pork-barrel spending.