If inequality and the well-being of hardworking Americans are truly important to the new Congress, they are now in a position to prove it.

More than 43 million people in this country still live below the poverty line, and that number would be more than twice as high were it not for federal anti-poverty policies, according to the Census Bureau. Why, then, is the new Congress gearing up to attack some of these programs?

I hope we can count on Sen. Susan Collins and Sen. Angus King to reject any proposals that would take us backward – whether dismantling health coverage for millions, gutting the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly food stamps) by turning it into a block grant, or reducing access to Medicaid.

Instead, they should focus on doing some good, like enacting bipartisan proposals to expand the earned income tax credit to workers not raising children – we need to make sure no American is taxed into poverty.

Now more than ever, we need to focus on making things better for hardworking Americans. Dismantling our safety net is not the way to do that.

Kristy Martino

Kittery Point