POLITICS

Tavis Smiley bringing in big political names to tackle poverty

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Yeas and Nays,Politics,Nikki Schwab

PBS host Tavis Smiley has a very to-the-point answer when asked if the topic of poverty got enough play during the 2012 campaign. "No," he said bluntly, but with a laugh during an interview with Yeas & Nays Tuesday. "As a result the work intensifies," he continued.

A year ago, Smiley moderated a panel discussion at George Washington University to take on the matter. A year later he's doing it again, hoping to bring together a bipartisan dream team of sorts to finally get something done. On the left, Smiley's recruited Congressional Black Caucus chairwoman Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, to join the event, being held at GW on Jan. 17 at 6:30 p.m. On the right, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has been tapped. "I don't always agree with Newt Gingrich, but he clearly is an influencer. He's a thought leader and he has ideas about poverty. He's written books about it, he's written speeches about it, I want to hear what the other side has to say," Smiley said. Other intellectuals will also speak at the event, and Smiley is hoping that former vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan will sign on, along with Michael Moore, who appeared on the panel last year. "I would love to moderate this panel with Newt Gingrich on my right and Michael Moore on my left," Smiley said.

The end goal is to get President Obama to deliver a major public policy speech on poverty and then follow that up with a White House summit. Next Thursday's panel discussion is free and open to the public, but attendees must register online.

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