Mum Brandy Spencer was six when the then-President Ronald Reagan said the US was in “danger of creating a permanent culture of poverty”.
Now, 30 years on, the fears have been realised. Brandy and her four kids are among the 43 million people living below the breadline in the world’s richest nation.
But listening to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton as they slug it out to follow in Reagan’s footsteps as President, no one would realise the unforgivable amount of poverty in their country.
She says: “We hear about social mobility and being able to move to where the jobs are. Politicians do not live in the real world.
“None of us can afford the bus fare to go and vote let alone pay to relocate across the country.”
James Breeden
Brandy Spencer outside her trailer home
Brandy, her husband and the kids live in a rundown park of static caravans in Beattyville, Kentucky.
The town was doing well four decades ago but the factories – including shoe companies and a uniform manufacturer – have now gone. The area’s two largest employers, the county jail and a prison, shut down last summer.
Beattyville has been gripped for years by a drug epidemic.
Brandy says: “There just ain’t no hope for us folks here. The Government gone left us up high and dry.
“We are the forgotten people of this country – much like the industries they took away from us.
“It doesn’t matter who you are or how much money you have, my vote counts for the same as anyone else. Our voice is just as important, if not more so, than those Clinton and Trump are trying to win over.
"If only one of them ever mentioned us – the poor – 43 million would be voting for them. We simply don’t matter.”
More than 13% of the nation’s population are in poverty. Surviving on state handouts, families are often given the equivalent of £205 a month to live on. But some get nothing.
James Breeden
Trump sign in front of a trailer park in Beattyville, Kentucky
During the election campaign the main party’s nominees have said very little about poverty. Mrs Clinton has underscored her credentials as an advocate for middle class families.
The only cheer for those below the breadline is her support for raising the minimum wage to $12 an hour from $7.25.
Mr Trump has spoken at length about creating jobs but little about helping people while they are not working.
Beattyville’s apathy for the candidates is understandable.
Former coal miner Clyde Silcox, 62, has not worked since 1994 – but not for the want of trying.
The grandad spends his days looking after great-grandson Eli, one, and has resigned himself to “being on the scrapheap” for the rest of his days.
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