(The Hill) — A leading House Democrat is hoping to use his prestigious seat on the deficit-cutting supercommittee to close the growing gully that divides the rich and the poor in America.

Rep. James Clyburn (S.C.) said the recent debate over slashing spending and reducing deficits has all but ignored the toll those cuts could exact on lower income folks, particularly in minority communities. Clyburn — the third-ranking House Democrat and a member of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) — is vowing to use his perch on the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to tackle the nation’s enormous wealth gap.

“In 1963, Dr. [Martin Luther] King [Jr.] expressed disbelief that the vault of opportunity in this great country was empty. Yet in 2011, the gap continues to grow wider between those who enjoy great wealth and those who struggle to get by with little thought of ever getting ahead,” Clyburn said in a statement reacting to his appointment on the deficit panel.

“Too often, the human side gets lost in the Washington debates about our nation’s debt and deficits,” he added. “I will seek to keep those interests on the table.”

Many liberals in and out of Congress have attacked the Republicans’ budget strategy for focusing on steep cuts to domestic and safety-net programs, while excluding any new stimulus spending or tax-revenue increases. The critics argue that the unbalanced nature of that strategy puts a bulk of the deficit-reduction burden on low- and middle-income families, while corporations and wealthy Americans are left off the hook.