Every other Thursday, Equal Voice News tracks the latest from the Trump administration, whether its policies are creating poverty or prosperity, and how families and grassroots organizations are working on those issues around the country. Here’s our latest:
Health Care Fight Continues, Now for Millions of Kids
Congress continues to stumble over health care this year. One of its latest potential missteps is that “9 Million Kids Might Lose Health Care Because Congress Failed to Reauthorize a Crucial Program,” The Washington Post reports.
The issue is that Congress let the popular CHIP program (Children’s Health Insurance Program) expire over the weekend, according to media reports. That could be a problem because CHIP covers 39 percent of U.S. children, including “a majority of kids with special needs, from working families, of color, and in rural communities,” Families USA said.
These are often children from lower-income families who earn a bit too much to qualify for Medicaid.
The good news is policymakers are working on a fix. The bad news is it’s not going smoothly in the House, The New York Times said.
To learn more check out Families USA’s CHIP factsheet.
Census 2020 Is Big – for Families, the Poor, People of Color, All of Us
The NAACP wants to know what’s happening with Census 2020, and it’s taking the U.S. Commerce Department to federal court “for refusal to disclose records on preparations for the 2020 Census.”
“The Census Bureau routinely undercounts communities of color, young children, home renters, low-income persons, and rural residents,” NAACP General Counsel Bradford Berry said in a statement Oct. 5, “but all signs indicate that the 2020 Census will be a particularly egregious failure on this front.”
Learn about the high stakes in Census 2020 – hundreds of billions of dollars in federal spending and critical data used to define districts for political representation – as reported in this special report from Marguerite Casey Foundation‘s Equal Voice News, “Census 2020: The U.S. Needs to Get It Right.”
Bail Reform Rolls On
In Illinois, Cook County took a dramatic step to reform bail when County Chief Judge Timothy Evans issued an order that tells judges not to set bail higher than people can afford, according to The New York Times.
Around the country, “some prosecutors oppose (certain bail) reform efforts, arguing that the changes could hurt their ability to protect the public,” the Times reported.
Further Reading and Watching:
“Half of the inmates shouldn’t be here, says Cook County sheriff: At one of the largest jails in the U.S., Sheriff Tom Dart sees his job as not just keeping people in jail, but helping some of them get out.”– 60 Minutes.
Did You Hear About Payday Lending?
It looks like the payday lending industry – known for high interest rates – is going to face new restrictions from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The CFPB issued its decision on Oct. 5.
Congress might weigh in on the regulations, but for many who say “fair lending” is needed for working families and all Americans, it’s a step in the right direction.
The Changing Reality for American Workers
The policy landscape for U.S. workers is shifting under the Trump administration. This week the “Supreme Court, spurred by Trump’s lawyers, could achieve backdoor repeal of workers’ rights laws,” the Los Angeles Times reported.
The high court is actually considering three cases, and the stakes are high. The administration is “arguing for a pro-business ruling that could bar workers from joining together to challenge the legality of their company’s workplace rules, including on wages and overtime pay,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
The Economic Policy Institute said that would be a bad move for workers in its blog post “Supreme Court should uphold working people’s fundamental rights in Murphy Oil.”
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has a different take.
“The three cases – NLRB v. Murphy Oil, USA; Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis; and Ernst & Young LLP v. Morris – will conclude a years-long legal tug-of-war over this issue in which the NLRB (National Labor Relations Board) thumbed its nose at several federal circuit court decisions rejecting its interpretation of the law,” the Chamber said in a story posted on its website.
Targeting a Higher Wage
In good news for low-income workers, Target announced it “will pay $15 per hour, joining Walmart in raising retail wages” (Associated Press).
It Seems Nearly Everyone Wants Parental Leave
America may not have federally-mandated leave for parents, but most of us want it, Business Insider says, citing a new MSN poll.
It turns out more than 90 percent of respondents agreed moms should have leave and more than 80 percent thought dads should also have time, Insider says.
This support is probably fueling a push for paid parental leave that Equal Voice News highlighted in a special report, “Working Families Move Closer to Paid Parental Leave.”
Melinda Gates Weighs In
One of the nation’s leading philanthropists, Melinda Gates, took aim at the nation’s less-than-friendly family policies, pointing out those policies hit mothers and communities of color hardest, in an essay she penned for LinkedIn.
“Many find themselves straining to balance their jobs and their families, and life both at home and at work suffers as a result.
Yet few workplaces have invested in the kinds of policies that could help fix that – like more affordable childcare, or more flexible hours, or even just a place for moms to pump. Astoundingly, we remain a country where just 15 percent of Americans have access to employer-sponsored paid family leave.” — “We’re sending our daughters into a workplace designed for our dads.”
Check back because Gates promises more on the modern workplace in the months to come.
(Tip of the hat to Inc. for highlighting this feature.)
Moves in the Immigration Battle
On Oct. 5, which was a renewal deadline for many DACA recipients, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed The California Values Act (SB 54), legislation supporters say will create a “sanctuary state.” The act will limit cooperation between state and local law enforcement and federal immigration agents and their work enforcing federal immigration laws.
“Without SB 54, millions of Californians would live in fear for just going to work, attending school, or accessing vital services,” Advancing Justice-California’s Policy Manager, Andrew Medina, said in a statement.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, however, has argued that sanctuary cities don’t respect the rule of law and those that work with federal immigration officials have more resources to fight crime, according to The New York Times.
It’s good to remember that immigration policy and enforcement has largely been the responsibility of the U.S. government – and not state or local authorities.
Remember that wall Trump promised? Well, it looks like the “Trump administration has already started building the border wall,” according to Vox.
What We Want to Hear and Read
The aftermath of devastating hurricanes in Puerto Rico and Texas continue to raise difficult questions. Houston Public Media asks: “Harvey Means More Jobs. But Does It Mean More Exploitation Too?”
In the podcasting world, On the Media offers “This American War on Drugs.”
“We take a look at the history of the battle, and how sensational media depictions of crack, heroin, and meth have helped fuel it. Plus: our Breaking News Consumer’s Handbook: Drugs Edition. Then, a look at how America’s first drug czar used racist propaganda to outlaw marijuana. And why the debate between treatment and law enforcement is blurrier than you might think.”