Every other Thursday, the Equal Voice News digest, “Making It in Trump’s America: People, Policy & Poverty,” will track the latest from the Trump administration and whether its policies are creating poverty or prosperity. We’ll have reports from families and grassroots organizations working on those issues around the country. Here’s our latest:
Law and Order? Sure Isn’t Criminal Justice Reform
Rumblings out of the White House suggest President Trump is thinking about bringing back old law-and-order ideas. Isn’t he aware of the downsides of mass incarceration and the effects on Americans?
If he’s looking for good reform ideas, he should check out what’s happening in California, where Proposition 47 is lowering incarceration rates and helping people get back on their feet after they leave prison, The Los Angeles Times reports.
He also could take a break from Washington, D.C. and Mar-a-Lago and pay a visit to the Lone Star state, where grassroots leaders and families with the Texas Organizing Project are championing a “Plan to Stop Debtors Prisons in Houston,” according to the Houston Press.
But, he and Attorney General Jeff Sessions apparently have a different (and much older) idea: “How Jeff Sessions wants to bring back the war on drugs.”
Trump at 100 (Days)
As the U.S. looks to the first 100 days of the Trump administration, here’s a comprehensive look at what has unfolded and the policy impact on workers. Yes, we just added this.
Why Is This Even Necessary?
In case you haven’t heard about ‘lunch shaming’ it’s when students are humiliated, say with a stamp on an arm or having their trays of chicken nuggets taken away in the cafeteria, after their parents fall behind on their meal bill at school. The New York Times has the report.
Don’t glare at the lunch lady. Maybe, you should just give her props. She has been known to pay for their lunches or quit, The New York Times says, rather than shame a kid who might grow up to be a teacher or governor of a state that just made ‘lunch shaming’ illegal.
It’s another bizarre twist in the nation’s ever twisted view of poverty in America. We’ll throw in a not-so-twisted twist to this twisted view: Let’s celebrate those school employees who did the right thing.
The Obamacare Plot Thickens, and Gets Even More Confusing
As Congress stops and starts efforts to repeal Obamacare, there are plenty of subplots playing out that matter to families, including: “Lots of places have just one Obamacare insurer. What if that falls to zero?” Vox reports.
The answer is not good: “An Obamacare market with no sellers would leave thousands of enrollees unable to use tax subsidies to buy insurance coverage,” according to Vox.
This is only the tip of an iceberg that threatens the Titanic that is the U.S. health care system. Here are the some of the other latest highlights:
- “Surprise! Some New Obamacare Enrollment Rules Are Out”
- “Democrats Say Spending Bill Must Fund Obamacare Payments”
- “Trump May Halt Insurer Payment to Force Democrats to Table on Healthcare”
And Congress is gearing up for Round 2 of its fight to repeal Obamacare, though with less sound and fury. The Washington Post reports that “GOP leaders play down revisions to health-care bill offered by House moderate.”
With all of this swirling about in Washington, D.C., we like to think of the farmer we met near Birmingham, Alabama and the residents we’ve spoken with in the Mississippi Delta.
Minimum Wages Keeps Moving. Opponents Keep Pushing Back.
The movement to raise minimum wages around the country continues to gather steam in 2017, as state legislatures and city councils take up the issue. But, opposition groups are trying to slow those efforts down.
We’ll turn to the downsides first because, well, upsides in life better reflect America’s optimism and the can-do spirit of families:
In the negative column:
- “The Latest: New Mexico governor vetoes minimum wage increase” (WRAL.com)
- “Former business owners challenge ABQ minimum wage law” (Albuquerque Journal)
In the plus column:
- “Stakes are high for workers, businesses as Illinois considers minimum wage hike” (Chicago Tribune)
- (Louisiana) “Lawmakers to consider raising the state minimum wage requirement” (WWL TV CBS)
- “Prevailing wage bill advances to full Nevada Assembly” (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
- “Here’s who’s winning the $15 minimum wage wars now” (CNBC)
Home-care Workers Don’t Deserve the Minimum Wage.
Wait. Did we read that correctly? Isn’t helping families and workers part of the American ethos?
Remember when the Obama administration won new rules that enforced federal minimum wage and overtime protections for about 2 million home care workers who care for your grandparents, parents, people with disabilities and sick relatives?
Well, now the “Home-Care Industry Wants Wage Rule Reversed by Trump Labor Chief.”
If, by chance, you’re unfamiliar with home-care workers, meet Christal Boutte of Seattle, USA.
What’s so Funny ‘Bout Peace, Love and Moderate Immigration Policies?
Good observation. We did paraphrase Elvis Costello.
The Trump administration keeps banging the drum about cracking down on immigration. “Hard-line anti-illegal immigration advocates hired at 2 federal agencies. The “Trump administration (is) moving quickly to build up nationwide deportation force.”
The more they beat their drum, though, the louder the backlash seems to get. Now teachers are mobilizing to fight the president’s “Anti-immigration Policies,” and they’re rallying around the theme “Build Schools, Not Walls,” The Huffington Post says.
In El Paso, Texas, this woman is pursuing more hugs and building bridges along the U.S.-Mexico border.
California, meanwhile, is calling the president’s bluff as it “Moves to Become ‘Sanctuary State,’ and Others Look to Follow,” according to The New York Times.
Good Stuff We’re Reading:
This powerful and intimate portrayal of how the housing system can be rigged against low-income renters won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for general non-fiction, and it deserved to win. Check it out.
It also reminds us of what we’ve heard from communities across the country – that housing is a human right.
(Sources: Jobs With Justice digest, Associated Press, news outlets, and, of course, our neighbors. Paul Nyhan is the senior writer for Equal Voice News, which is published by Marguerite Casey Foundation. Ebony Slaughter-Johhnson, an Equal Voice News contributor, provided research assistance with this digest.)