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Sunday, December 31, 2017

Flawed tax cuts don't help middle class - echo opinion


Cincinnati Inquirer letter to the editorNorbert A. Nadel 

Long-awaited tax cut for business, but bad for mortgage deductions

Congress passed a long-awaited "tax cuts for the rich" that might help encourage business expansion and reduce taxes (temporarily) for most taxpayers who do not chose to itemize their federal tax returns.

Nevertheless, the legislation has one great flaw that discourages home ownership by substantially limiting the ability of homeowners to deduct mortgage interest and property taxes when filing their federal tax returns.

This substantial limitation on allowing homeowners to deduct real estate taxes and mortgage interest on their homes is especially hurtful in Cincinnati and Hamilton County, where property taxes are especially high due to numerous and high tax levies, some of which are duplicates of other levies.
In my opinion, this unfairness to homeowners was caused by the so-called “budget hawks” in Congress who are in reality, free spenders. 

In addition, there are those in Congress who sing the same old tired tune that any tax relief for taxpayers is a tax cut for the rich.

It’s time to clean the swamp! ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

Maine Writer ~ it's hard to imagine how the Republican tax cuts for the rich plan will improve the financials of middle class wage earners when they will be unable to itemize their federal tax deductions.  Their taxes will increase if they can't itemize deductions for interest, taxes, charitable giving or health care expenses.

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Puerto Rico babies need care - thank midwives

Donald Trump has abandoned Puerto Rico.  

In addition to being unable to calculate the accurate number of post Hurricane Maria* deaths, the focus is now on protecting new lives.  Thankfully, Puerto Rico has the help of midwives to care for and save the lives of babies.
Midwives are caring for mothers and babies while dealing with unsanitary conditions, a high risk of Zika infections and the challenge of working with a lack of electric power.  

Delivering babies and saving lives in Puerto Rico- by Alexa Liautaud, Cassandra Giraldo, Tessa Paoli

Vice News in Puerto Rico reports

More than half of Puerto Rico remains without power, and a fifth of residents don’t have access to clean drinking water, much less prenatal or labor and delivery supplies. 

Women are unable to find their doctors and fears of Zika carried by mosquitos amid the flooding are high. 

In this environment, many expectant mothers are forced to make panicked decisions about where to have their babies — should they drive to a hospital that might not take them or try a potentially dangerous home birth?

“The system is just overwhelmed. The doctor-to-patient ratio is too high,” said Ted Held, a physician and volunteer OB-GYN with Circle of Health International, an NGO (Non-governmental Organization)that trains and sends volunteer medical professionals to crisis zones to assist mothers and pregnant women.

After the hurricane, Held spent two weeks assessing the quality of maternal healthcare at nine clinics located around San Juan and found that many pregnant women were living in poor conditions without enough clean water or food. Many could not afford their doctor appointments or the gas to get there. 

In fact, Held is especially worried about women in cities like Loiza, where 68 percent of the residents live below the poverty line.

Puerto Rico’s maternal health care system was already weak, with the highest cesarean rate and the fifth-highest preterm birth rate in the United States. 
A mountain of rubble remains in front of the house of the Oliveras Gonzalez family, in Morovis, Puerto Rico.
(AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)

Jose Cordero, the former dean of the University of Puerto Rico’s Graduate School of Public Health, worries that stress may contribute to even more preterm births following the hurricane.

“We know that an environment where you go through a disaster is an extremely stressful environment, and so one of the concerns is that the stress could be a factor for early delivery,” he said. “At this point we don’t know yet. But that’s something that we are looking for.”

Martinez found the uncertainty around her delivery stressful. She had planned to give birth in a hospital 10 minutes away, but it closed its operating room and maternity ward as it struggled to keep up with demand for other services.

She was lucky to find a midwife who was trained to deliver babies under crisis conditions. After a long labor in the middle of the night and under cell-phone light, Martinez delivered a healthy baby girl with a full head of hair.

“The baby has to get born one way or another, but what better way than in our house, in peace,” Martinez said. “I don’t know how things would’ve ended if I didn’t have a midwife.”

Some of the disaster relief effort in Puerto Rico has been directed to pregnant women and new mothers. 

Circle of Health collected 4,000 pounds of maternal healthcare supplies, including syringes, tubing, gauze, speculums, gowns, pads and diapers, and sent them to midwives on the island. FEMA also sent baby kits including baby food, formula, diapers, and bottles.

Experts in public health say the need for midwives as first responders during and directly after natural disasters is significant. Midwives are especially helpful because they can work with few resources and they are trained in dealing with stress and trauma.

Martinez’s midwife was one of 11 volunteer midwives at a clinic outside San Juan called Mujeres Ayudando Madres, or Centro MAM. They’ve been busy these last two months caring for more than 200 women and families all over the island. In addition to facilitating home births, services include a breastfeeding station at the office (to minimize the chance of babies drinking formula made with contaminated water), Zika prevention, and prenatal and postpartum checkups.

Centro MAM was facing financial hardship and nearly closed before the storm. But when the hurricane hit, calls from desperate women came flooding in, and they reopened their doors.

“The hurricane came and we realized we cannot close right now because people need us,” said Vanessa Caldari, a certified professional midwife and the clinic’s founder. 

“We didn’t have any money, but we were going to work as much as we can.”

To contact Centro MAM, visit their website.
http://mujeresayudandomadres.com/

*Over three months have passed since the 155 mph winds of Category 4 Hurricane Maria tore through the American territory of Puerto Rico. The island’s power was knocked out. Hospitals and dialysis centers were shut. Entire towns were stranded by mudslides. Water ran dry.

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Saturday, December 30, 2017

Walter Reed physicians ~ assess Donald J. Trump's mental health (please!)

It almost goes without saying that literally zero congressional Democrats have said that there was no collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign during the 2016 election. Zero. ~ by Ezra Klein and echo opinion published in Vox.com

In the New Year, when Donald Trump is finally evaluated for the state of his medical health, the bigger question is about how the physicians will assess his mental health. On a below zero temperature day in Maine, this report about Donald Trump's rambling interview with the New York Times - unprepared and unscripted- is leaving me with cold chills.

Incoherent, authoritarian, uninformed: Trump’s New York Times interview is a scary readThe president of the United States ~ Donald J. Trump ~ is not well.

The president of the United States is not well. That is an uncomfortable thing to say, but it is an even worse thing to ignore.

Consider the interview Trump gave to the New York Times on Thursday. It begins with a string of falsehoods that make it difficult to tell whether the leader of the free world is lying or delusional. Remember, these are President Donald Trump’s words, after being told a recording device is on:

Virtually every Democrat has said there is no collusion. There is no collusion. And even these committees that have been set up. If you look at what’s going on — and in fact, what it’s done is, it’s really angered the base and made the base stronger. My base is stronger than it’s ever been. Great congressmen, in particular, some of the congressmen have been unbelievable in pointing out what a witch hunt the whole thing is. So, I think it’s been proven that there is no collusion.

It almost goes without saying that literally zero congressional Democrats have said that there was no collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign during the 2016 election. Zero.

What key Democrats are actually saying is closer to the opposite. On December 20, for instance, Sen. Mark Warner, the vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee and thus the Senate Democrat leading the investigation into collusion, said, “despite the initial denials of any Russian contacts during the election, this Committee’s efforts have helped uncover numerous and troubling high-level engagements between the Trump campaign and Russian affiliates — many of which have only been revealed in recent months.”

Nor is Trump’s base strengthening, or even holding steady. In a detailed analysis of Trump’s poll numbers, FiveThirtyEight’s Harry Enten concluded that the president is losing the most ground in the reddest states:

In states where Trump won by at least 10 points, his net approval rating is down 18 percentage points, on average, compared to his margin last November. In states that were decided by 10 points or less in November, it’s down only 13 points. And it’s down 8 points in states Clinton carried by at least 10 points.

The fact that Trump has lost the greatest number of supporters in red states is perhaps the clearest indication yet that he is losing ground among some form of his base, if you think of his base as those who voted for him in November.

CNN took a different angle on the same question and also found slippage among Trump’s base. It looked at the change in Trump’s approval ratings from February to November among the demographic groups that formed the core of Trump’s electoral coalition — in every group, there’d been substantial declines. Trump’s numbers have fallen by 8 points among Republicans, by 9 points among voters over 50, by 10 points among whites with no college, by 17 points among white evangelicals. “It has become increasingly clear that even his base is not immune,” CNN concluded.CNN

As for Trump’s contention that “it’s been proven that there is no collusion,” it’s hard to even know how to begin responding to that. In recent months, Trump’s former campaign manager and national security adviser have both been charged with crimes by Robert Mueller, and the investigation is not just ongoing but apparently widening in its scope and ferocity. Yet here is Trump’s take:

I saw Dianne Feinstein the other day on television saying there is no collusion. She’s the head of the committee. The Republicans, in terms of the House committees, they come out, they’re so angry because there is no collusion. So, I actually think that it’s turning out — I actually think it’s turning to the Democrats because there was collusion on behalf of the Democrats. There was collusion with the Russians and the Democrats. A lot of collusion.

HELLO???
Sen. Feinstein has not said that she, or any of the ongoing investigations, has concluded that there was no collusion. 

Instead, what she has said is that investigators believe Trump may have obstructed justice in his efforts to derail inquiries into collusion:

The [Senate] Judiciary Committee has an investigation going as well and it involves obstruction of justice and I think what we're beginning to see is the putting together of a case of obstruction of justice.

It speaks to Trump’s habits of mind, to the sycophantic sources from which he prefers to get his news, that he heard something Feinstein said and has come to believe she has absolved him — yet misses the actual thing she said that threatens him.


It would be comforting, on some level, to believe that Trump is simply lying, that he is trying to convince us of what he knows to be untrue. It is scarier to believe that Trump is delusional, that he has persuaded himself that Democrats have said things they’ve never said, that his base has strengthened when it has actually weakened, that it’s really his opponents under investigation for collusion, that his campaign has been cleared of wrongdoing when the circumstantial case for collusion has only grown stronger.

But that is far from the end of the interview.
Trump: “I have absolute right to do what I want to do with the Justice Department”

A few paragraphs later, for instance, Trump offers this chilling comment when asked about Hillary Clinton’s emails (which, amazingly, we are somehow still talking about in December 2017):

NYT: You control the Justice Department. Should they reopen that email investigation?

TRUMP: What I’ve done is, I have absolute right to do what I want to do with the Justice Department. But for purposes of hopefully thinking I’m going to be treated fairly, I’ve stayed uninvolved with this particular matter.

Read Trump’s phrasing carefully: “I have absolute right to do what I want to do with the Justice Department.” It’s a statement that speaks both to Trump’s yearning for authoritarian power and his misunderstanding of the system in which he actually operates.

And it’s followed by something yet scarier. “For purposes of hopefully thinking I’m going to be treated fairly, I’ve stayed uninvolved with this particular matter,” he says.Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images

Here, Trump offers insight into his own thinking. He appears to believe that he is engaged in some explicit or implicit quid pro quo with the Department of Justice: He doesn’t fire Jeff Sessions, demand prosecution of his political enemies, or whatever it is he imagines doing with his “absolute right,” so long as they treat him and his associates “fairly,” which likely means protecting him from Mueller’s investigation.

Imagine reading this comment on transcripts from Richard Nixon’s tapes. It would be the kind of comment that would leave us glad Nixon was forced from office, chilled that such a man ever occupied the presidency at all.

The interview, of course, is not done.

TRUMP: It’s too bad Jeff recused himself. I like Jeff, but it’s too bad he recused himself. I thought. … Many people will tell you that something is [inaudible].

NYT: Do you think Holder was more loyal to …

TRUMP: I don’t want to get into loyalty, but I will tell you that, I will say this: Holder protected President Obama. Totally protected him. When you look at the I.R.S. scandal, when you look at the guns for whatever, when you look at all of the tremendous, ah, real problems they had, not made-up problems like Russian collusion, these were real problems. When you look at the things that they did, and Holder protected the president. And I have great respect for that, I’ll be honest, I have great respect for that.

Read that again. Trump’s premise in this section appears to be that President Obama engaged in a wide array of criminal, undemocratic, and negligent behaviors but his attorney general protected him from justice. And Trump’s conclusion is that Obama’s attorney general did his job well. To Trump, the attorney general doesn’t serve the country, or the Constitution, but the president.
Trump does not know what he doesn’t know, and he overestimates what he does know

At this point, the interview moves towards policy topics, and Trump relaxes into self-flattery:
I know more about the big bills. … Than any president that’s ever been in office. Whether it’s health care and taxes. Especially taxes. And if I didn’t, I couldn’t have persuaded a hundred. … You ask Mark Meadows [inaudible]. … I couldn’t have persuaded a hundred congressmen to go along with the bill. The first bill, you know, that was ultimately, shockingly rejected ... I know the details of taxes better than anybody. Better than the greatest C.P.A. I know the details of health care better than most, better than most. And if I didn’t, I couldn’t have talked all these people into doing ultimately only to be rejected.

In psychology, there’s an idea known as the Dunning-Kruger effect. It refers to research by David Dunning and Justin Kruger that found the least competent people often believe they are the most competent because they “lack the very expertise needed to recognize how badly they’re doing.” This dynamic helps explain comments like the one Trump makes here.

Over the course of reporting on the Trump White House, I have spoken to people who brief Trump and people who have been briefed by him. I’ve talked to policy experts who have sat in the Oval Office explaining their ideas to the president and to members of Congress who have listened to the president sell his ideas to them. I’ve talked to both Democrats and Republicans who have occupied these roles. In all cases, their judgment of Trump is identical: He is not just notably uninformed but also notably difficult to inform — his attention span is thin, he hears what he wants to hear, he wanders off topic, he has trouble following complex arguments. Trump has trouble following his briefings or even correctly repeating what he has heard.

This is all perfectly evident if you listen to Trump discuss policy in public even momentarily. For instance, in this same New York Times interview, he tries to explain how he’s changed Obamacare:

So now I have associations, I have private insurance companies coming and will sell private health care plans to people through associations. That’s gonna be millions and millions of people. People have no idea how big that is. And by the way, and for that, we’ve ended across state lines. So we have competition. You know for that I’m allowed to [inaudible] state lines. So that’s all done.

Now I’ve ended the individual mandate. And the other thing I wish you’d tell people. So when I do this, and we’ve got health care, you know, McCain did his vote.

... We’ve created associations, millions of people are joining associations. Millions. That were formerly in Obamacare or didn’t have insurance. Or didn’t have health care. Millions of people. That’s gonna be a big bill, you watch. It could be as high as 50 percent of the people. You watch. So that’s a big thing. And the individual mandate. So now you have associations, and people don’t even talk about the associations. That could be half the people are going to be joining up. … With private [inaudible]. So now you have associations and the individual mandate.

I can, with some effort, untangle what Trump might have been trying to say here, but it’s so incoherent, so suffused with half-related ideas and personal obsessions (why did Trump feel the need to bring up McCain’s vote?), that it’s hard to say for sure.

At best, Trump is saying something that is comprehensible but incorrect. He signed an executive order making it easier to form association health plans, which are health plans formed by groups of small businesses, and making it easier for those plans to skirt Obamacare’s insurance regulations and to contain small businesses from multiple states.

As of now, and Trump doesn’t seem to realize this, it’s just an executive order — the rules defining and implementing it have not been written, so it is not yet happening, and we don’t know how it will work in practice, much less how many people may eventually sign up. Nor does the order get rid of the prohibition on selling insurance across state lines for most people — it’s only for this one kind of plan which can include members in multiple states, and which will only serve a tiny minority of the health insurance market.

Whatever Trump is saying, it does not reveal much familiarity with health policy, or even with the status and limits of his own actions. And yet Trump believes himself, on policy, to be the most informed president in American history. As the Dunning-Kruger effect suggests, he doesn’t know how much he doesn’t know, and that, combined with his natural tendency toward narcissism, has left him dangerously overconfident in his own knowledge base.

Speaking of narcissism:
We’re going to win another four years for a lot of reasons, most importantly because our country is starting to do well again and we’re being respected again. But another reason that I’m going to win another four years is because newspapers, television, all forms of media will tank if I’m not there because without me, their ratings are going down the tubes. Without me, The New York Times will indeed be not the failing New York Times, but the failed New York Times. So they basically have to let me win. And eventually, probably six months before the election, they’ll be loving me because they’re saying, “Please, please, don’t lose Donald Trump.”

What is one even to say about this? Is it a joke? If so, why is Trump taking this opportunity to make it? Is it an attack on the media? Is it Trump finding another way to compliment himself, to give himself credit for the media’s success?

Imagine how we would react to literally any other president speaking like this. Trump has bludgeoned us into becoming accustomed to these kinds of comments but that, too, is worrying.

This is the president of the United States speaking to the New York Times. His comments are, by turns, incoherent, incorrect, conspiratorial, delusional, self-aggrandizing, and underinformed. This is not a partisan judgment — indeed, the interview is rarely coherent or specific enough to classify the points Trump makes on a recognizable left-right spectrum. As has been true since he entered American politics, Trump is interested in Trump — over the course of the interview, he mentions his Electoral College strategy seven times, in each case using it to underscore his political savvy and to suggest that he could easily have won the popular vote if he had tried.

I am not a medical professional, and I will not pretend to know what is truly happening here.  (Dear Ezra~ I am a medical professional. A registered professional nurse.  Something is definitely not right in the mind of Donald Trump. My professional opinion is that he makes things up as he goes along. He lives in a narcissistic bubble.

It’s become a common conversation topic in Washington to muse on whether the president is suffering from some form of cognitive decline or psychological malady. I don’t think those hypotheses are necessary or meaningful. Whatever the cause, it is plainly obvious from Trump’s words that this is not a man fit to be president, that he is not well or capable in some fundamental way. That is an uncomfortable thing to say, and so many prefer not to say it, but Trump does not occupy a job where such deficiencies can be safely ignored.

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Republican bait and switch tax cuts for the rich

But, "Let's do it!", the GOP says. ~ Emily Mills, Madison WI

"We do have piles of evidence to show that trickle-down economics doesn’t work."

Echo opinion *~ from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Up is down, left is right, and the deficit hawks have not so much laid down with the doves as they have set fire to their nests.

The GOP voted in the largest overhaul of the U.S. tax code in decades, and President Donald Trump happily signed whatever went to his desk, relieved to have finally passed something big nearly a year into his administration.

Of course, this is cause for celebration for Trump, whose own family stands to gain enormously. How enormously? That’s difficult to say, given that he has still refused to release his tax returns. 

But best estimates put Trump family savings at around $1 billion. Between this and all of the taxpayer money he’s earned through charging money for holding government functions at his properties, if he didn’t enter the White House as a billionaire, he may well leave as one.

Meanwhile, all those alleged deficit hardliners in the Republican Party have fudged on their principles in the name of throwing money at the wealthiest Americans (and themselves). 

When deficits go up due to spending on social welfare programs for the most vulnerable members of society, that’s unconscionable. 

Ballooning the deficit by $1.4 trillion by 2027 in the name of giving massive tax cuts for the ultra-wealthy

The Republican argument: By slashing taxes for the largest corporations and richest Americans, savings will be passed along in the form of increased hiring and wages for regular working folks. Because if there’s one thing we’ve learned about the ultra-wealthy, it’s that they have the greater good in mind. Or not.

We do have piles of evidence to show that trickle-down economics doesn’t work. We have the words of the company owners themselves that savings will be passed on to shareholders, not to boost wages or hiring.

The biggest bait-and-switch of the plan: 

Tax cuts for the wealthy are permanent, while the modest tax savings for middle-income folks will disappear after 10 years.

The claim is that throwing so much money at the wealthy will boost economic growth (though even in the plan itself it’s not nearly enough to make up for the lost revenue). 

Again, this flies in the face of reality. If you want to boost an economy, lift the working class. We’re the people who put money back into the economy through spending, as opposed to saving our money through investments and tax breaks.

Given the overwhelming unpopularity of the bill and the very real ways it will harm most Americans (who will be paying much more for health care as a result of increasing premiums), the only silver lining is that this might be the final push needed to galvanize voters against the GOP in 2018 and 2020.

How many examples of greed will it take for people to turn away?

All we can do is commit to rebuilding the nests to be big enough to support everyone. And maybe put up spikes to keep the hawks away for good.

Emily Mills is a freelance writer who lives in Madison. Twitter: @millbot; Email: emily.mills@outlook.com

* Echo opinions are blogged by Maine Writer as they are randomly found while cruising  the nation's various newspapers.

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Donald Trump broken campaign promise to Haitians

This opinion editorial was published in the Tampa Bay Times. It describes another example about how Donald Trump said and did anything to get elected in 2016, but now he is undermining the promise he made to Florida's Haitians.

"Flash-forward more than a year later: Trump ordered almost 60,000 Haitians — many of them from Florida — to leave the United States or adjust their immigration status by July 2019."

PolitiFact Florida: President Trump broke a promise to Florida’s Haitian population

(Donald Trump was anxious as election day 2016 approached - he made a promise to Florida's Haitian community to win their votes.)

With Election Day 2016 approaching, then-candidate Donald Trump traveled to Miami to earn the support of a group of Haitian-Americans.

"Whether you vote for me or you don’t vote for me, I really want to be your greatest champion, and I will be your champion," he said at the Little Haiti Cultural Center.

Flash-forward more than a year later: Trump ordered almost 60,000 Haitians — many of them from Florida — to leave the United States or adjust their immigration status by July 2019.

The Trump administration’s Nov. 20 decision came after a review of the Temporary Protected Status for Haitians who arrived after the 2010 earthquake. This announcement prompted outrage from Republicans and Democrats in Congress, including former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, a Democrat in Florida’s governor’s race.

"Donald Trump lied to Florida’s Haitian community on the campaign trail and stabbed them in the back," Graham said in a Nov. 29 news release.

We can’t say whether Trump "lied," as Graham asserted. But we wanted to take a closer look at what Trump said and let readers decide for themselves.

Trump never explicitly promised to extend the TPS designation for Haitians, but according to those in the community, Trump’s words that September day meant he would defend Haitians’ interests.

"He turned his back on the Haitian people," said Gepsie M. Metellus, the executive director at Sant La Haitian Neighborhood Center in Miami. "He made a promise, and a promise in Haitian culture is a debt, and he did not live up to his promise."

Trump’s meeting in Little Haiti lasted 26 minutes. In addition to telling the attendees that he wanted to be their "greatest champion," Trump criticized the Clintons’ past involvement in the country and noted that Haiti is still suffering "very badly."

"Clinton was responsible for doing things a lot of the Haitian people are not happy with," Trump said from prepared remarks. "Taxpayer dollars intended for Haiti and the earthquake victims went to a lot of the Clinton cronies."

The Clintons faced a lot of criticism for their involvement with recovery efforts in Haiti after the magnitude 7 earthquake in 2010. Former President Bill Clinton served as the United Nations special envoy and helped raise hundreds of millions of dollars for the country; Hillary Clinton traveled to the country multiple times as secretary of state; and the Clinton Foundation raised more than $30 million for recovery projects.

Trump reiterated his support for Haitians weeks later in Ocala.

"As Haiti’s death toll from Hurricane Matthew is on the rise, we should never forget how Bill and Hillary Clinton handled Haiti the last time," he said Oct. 12, 2016. "To all our friends in Little Haiti, they’re great people. .?.?. these are people that are incredible. They have the warmest feeling, the warmest heart. But to all of our friends in Little Haiti, your day of justice is coming, believe me. And it arrives on Nov. 8."

Advocates in Florida, which has the greatest concentration of Haitian immigrants in the United States, told us that many Haitians understood Trump’s assurances to mean they could stay in the United States.

Many had rebuilt their lives in the country since the earthquake.

"The idea was that Trump was supposed to help people find a path to stay here permanently, not force them out of the country," said Linda Tavernier-Almada, director of education for the Haitian Association Foundation of Tampa Bay. "They’ve been paying taxes. They’ve opened up mom-and-pop shops. They are our nurses, our interns. Many children have been born here."

Tavernier-Almada didn’t vote for Trump but said people in the Haitian community expected him to keep his word when he vowed to be their greatest champion.

The idea that Haitian-Americans want to return to the country, Metellus said, "defies all logic."

The Trump administration has defended its decision by pointing to the obvious feature of the status: it’s temporary.

The Department of Homeland Security can decide to award TPS to nationals from countries experiencing civil war, environmental disasters or epidemics — conditions that prevent their safe return. The department periodically reviews the designations and decides to extend or terminate it based on the country’s progress and conditions.

A bipartisan group of Florida lawmakers including both Sens. Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson had appealed to the Trump administration to extend TPS for Haiti months before this announcement, warning that Haiti wasn’t ready for an influx of residents. They said the nation hadn’t fully recovered from the 2010 earthquake and subsequent cholera outbreak, and had been further devastated by Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

South Florida representatives from both sides of the aisle have introduced legislation to help the populations affected by the administration’s recent actions.

The Extending Status Protection for Eligible Refugees Act, or ESPERER Act ("esperer" is French for "hope"), would grant permanent residence to TPS recipients from Haiti, Nicaragua, El Salvador or Honduras who haven’t been convicted of serious crimes.

The bill has a long way to go before it will be voted on, if at all. It was introduced in the House in late October and hasn’t been heard by any committees.

Read more at PolitiFact.com/florida.

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Friday, December 29, 2017

Miami Herald opinion- Haitians deserve respect and legal residency

A re-blogged letter to the editor, found while randomly cruising American newspaper opinion pages: Miami Herald

Trump stigmatizes Haitians with AIDS comment ~ by Arthur Fournier

Haitian refugees deserve compassionate immigration and recognition as legal residents

The forced emigration of almost 60,000 Haitians triggered by the termination of temporary protected status for Haitian earthquake victims, will be judged by history with infamy, and now we know why.

Over the weekend, the New York Times reported that the president  (Donald Trump) thinks that all Haitians have AIDS. 

This absolutely false and absurd belief is based upon stigmatization and prejudice that first surfaced in the early days of the AIDS epidemic and has been thoroughly de-bunked by science. 

Like the Native Americans, who were forced to the trail of tears by the racial attitudes of the Andrew Jackson administration, these Haitians, threatened with deportation, are also innocents, arriving here after the 2010 earthquake killed their loved ones and destroyed their homes, jobs and social infrastructure. 

South Florida’s humanitarian response to their plight was arguably our finest hour.

Now, the Trump administration wants to send them back, cynically asking us to willingly suspend disbelief that Haiti now has the capacity to accept them. Harbor no illusions. Innocents will die. Children, the frail and the elderly will could die of pneumonia.

All émigrés will be at risk for mosquito-borne illnesses, such as malaria and dengue. 

There will also be incalculable suffering. 

Families will be ripped apart. Schooling will at best be interrupted.

Victims will return to nothing remaining of their past lives. The Times reporting suggests, prejudice against Haitian-Americans already in the U.S. will be re-ignited and that legal immigration from Haiti will be stifled.

It is encouraging to see leaders from the entire political spectrum raise their voices in protest. But those who hunger for justice for Haiti's earthquake victims must also call for a path to permanent residency status as well as a compassionate and fair immigration policy for Haitians and Haitian- Americans– instead of a new trail of tears and death, a path toward productive lives in this country.

Arthur M. Fournier, MD, Professor Emeritus, University of Miami 
Miller School of Medicine, Miami FL

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Republicans and poverty

Maine Equal Justice Partners published this disturbing report about how Maine is not sharing in American prosperity.  After reading and now blogging this narrative, it makes even less sense for Senator Susan Collins to have wrongly supported the Republican bill to give tax cuts to the rich.  Nothing in the Republican tax cuts for the rich will improve the quality of life for the people who are described in this report:  


Maine is not sharing in the prosperity being experienced by rising socio-economic data, reported in other US states. 

Yet, Maine's Republican Governor Paul LePage, the Second District Congressman, and Republican Bruce Poliquin and Senator Susan Collins, a Republican from Caribou, Maine, are not responding to the state's poverty problem. 

Instead, they supported the Republican plan to provide tax cuts for the rich, the people who are already prospering in the US economy, rather than invest in programs to improve Maine's economy to the level of prosperity, like what's happening in other states.

This report from Maine Equal Justice Partners:

Maine is not sharing in the progress being made in other parts of the country; in fact, it has been heading in the wrong direction for the past several years. 

Significant cuts to Maine services have left thousands of Mainers behind. And actions of the Republicans in Congress and the Trump administration threaten to push even more Maine people into poverty. Data released in September by the Census Bureau show that the national poverty rate declined from 2015 to 2016. 

Additional data from the Census Bureau and other sources show the ways the U.S. is making progress in the fight against poverty. We are seeing relief for families who have been lifted out of poverty by an increase in incomes and the number of jobs brought on by a stronger economy as well as by federal programs and policies that lift them up. 

In fact, the new Census Bureau data also shows that effective anti-poverty programs like housing assistance, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps), low income tax credits, and assistance for people with disabilities have lifted millions out of poverty. Yet, while the nation is making progress in poverty reduction, that same progress is not being shared in Maine, where poverty rates remained flat from 2015 to 2016

Through so-called “welfare reforms,” Maine’s Governor LePage and other policy makers have significantly diminished the state’s anti-poverty programs in recent years thus, they are not working as well as they could to deliver opportunities and lift families out of poverty. Compared to 2011, an estimated 100,000 fewer people receive assistance for food, shelter, or medical care here in Maine.

And proposals from Congress and the Trump administration to cut programs that have lifted millions out of poverty threaten even more vulnerable people. Proposed budgets and spending bills from leadership in the House, Senate, and White House would slash billions from the very programs that are designed to support low-income Mainers. Such cuts would surely cause more Americans and more Mainers to suffer in poverty and near poverty. 


The State of Poverty in Maine 

Roughly 161,750 Mainers (12.5 percent) are suffering under poverty’s weight. Approximately 59,000 Mainers (4.5 percent) live in deep poverty – less than $800 a month for a family of three. 3 This includes nearly 16,400 Maine children. 

Tragically, children remain more likely to be poor in America than any other age group, with nearly one in five in poverty nationwide. 

Although there has been some progress in reducing both child poverty and deep child poverty in the U.S. – this progress is not shared by Maine kids. In fact, since 2011, the proportion of U.S. children living in deep poverty decreased by 4.2 percent, while it increased in Maine by 13.6 percent.  The rate of child poverty nationally has dropped in the last year, while it remains stagnant in Maine, standing at 17.2 percent in 2016, showing no improvement
from 2015 levels.

Communities of color in Maine saw a lack of progress in poverty reduction as well: 42.7 percent of African Americans and 17.9 percent of Latinos were poor in 2016, percentages comparable to those in 2015 and 2007. 


In contrast, the poverty rate among non-Hispanic whites in Maine in 2016 was 11.5 percent. In Maine and in the nation as a whole, communities of color still remain disproportionately affected by poverty. The number of American households that are food insecure has continued a downward trend nationwide, but here too, progress eludes Maine families. The proportion of American households that weren’t always able to provide enough food for all family members in 2016 is down 12 percent from 2014 and down 17 percent from a high in 2011.5 

Hunger has decreased in the region and the rest of the nation, but not so in Maine. Here, on average 16.4 percent of households were food insecure between 2014 and 2016,—26 percent higher than the national average. This is statistically flat from 2011-2013 and remains 3.5 percentage points higher than pre-recession levels. 

Due to program changes such as an ineffective work requirement and a burdensome new asset limit, roughly 42,600 Mainers lost food assistance from 2011-2016,6 and Maine has the third highest rate of very low food security in the nation. 

Mainers in rural areas face particularly high barriers to getting the food they need. 

Across the country, progress has been made in increasing the number of Americans with health insurance, thanks to health insurance subsidies available under the Affordable Care Act and the states’ option under the law to use federal dollars available to them to expand Medicaid coverage to low income adults. 

Nationwide uninsured rates fell 41 percent from 2013 to 2016. But in Maine, which had not yet expanded Medicaid coverage, uninsured rates were flat from 2015 to 2016, and declined only 29 percent from 2013 to 2016. 

In other words, Maine saw some gains as individuals gained access to subsidized insurance on the Marketplace, but did not benefit as did other states from Medicaid expansion. Even more troubling, due to so-called “welfare reforms” championed by Maine’s Governor, Paul LePage, between 2011 and 2016, more than 40,000 Mainers lost their health insurance through MaineCare and the Elderly Drug Program including seniors, children, working parents, adults under the 3 poverty level, and immigrants. 

Maine’s overall health ranking during that period fell from 10th best in the nation to 22nd , showing that Maine has been heading in the wrong direction. In November 2017, however, Maine voters chose by ballot initiative to expand the state’s Medicaid program, making Maine the first state in the nation to make that decision through an election measure. The impetus for voters to do this came about after Maine’s legislature passed Medicaid expansion five times, only in each case to be met by a veto from Governor LePage. Now, with over 59 percent of voters approving the measure at the ballot this November, an estimated 70,000-80,000 people will begin to finally receive the coverage that they need.

Effective Programs Reduce Poverty and Speed Up Progress 

The Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) is a more accurate measure of poverty and its changes over time than the official poverty rate noted above. This is so because, unlike the official poverty rate, the SPM counts income sources such as federal tax credits and food and housing assistance as well as expenses like out-of-pocket medical costs. The SPM shows that federal programs increase incomes for millions of Americans, lifting them out of poverty and reducing the burdens of poverty for millions more. After accounting for under-reporting of benefits, safety net programs were shown to have lifted 46 million Americans, including 12 million children, out of poverty each year between 2009 and 2012, on average. 

In Maine, (a) 240,000 people, including 42,000 children, were lifted out of poverty by basic living standard programs each year between 2009 and 2012, on average (b) Supplemental Security Income (SSI), federal support for people with very limited resources who are elderly or with disabilities, or families caring for children with severe disabilities, lifted 24,000 out of poverty (c) 16,000 fewer people were poor because of housing subsidies; (d) 47,000 fewer people were poor because of SNAP (Food Stamps) (e) Low-income tax credits lifted 28,000 out of poverty each year between 2011-2013, on average (f) Nationally, more than 8.1 million people were lifted out of poverty by low-income refundable tax credits in 2016; (g) 3.1 million fewer were poor because of housing subsidies and (h) 3.6 million fewer people were poor because of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (i) SSI lifted 3.4 million people out of poverty, and (j) the school lunch program did the same for 1.3 million people. 

The Census data shows that 10.5 million more people would be in poverty if out-of-pocket medical costs were taken into account, showing the importance of quality, affordable health insurance.

In fact, programs that help provide basic living standards play a major – and increasingly important – role in the reduction of poverty that has occurred since the 1960s. 

Researchers using the Supplemental Poverty Measure and other data, including adjusting poverty thresholds for costs of living and different housing situations, found that poverty has actually decreased by more than one-third since 1967. According to this analysis, 13 government programs reduced the national poverty rate by 12.0 percentage points in 2014 and lifted more than 50 million people above the SPM poverty line that year. In Maine, the poverty rate would have been 14.6 percentage points, higher in 2014, without government programs; child poverty would have been 12.5 percentage points higher, and poverty among the elderly would have been 42.2 percentage points higher in 2014, without these programs.

Programs that help Maine people to achieve basic living standards do more than lift people out of poverty. Medicaid allows low-income individuals to address health issues and live healthier and more productive lives, even improving health outcomes across generations. A recent study found that the grown children of women who had received Medicaid during their pregnancies were more likely to have healthier babies. 

Housing vouchers sharply reduce housing instability and homelessness, as well as other hardships like food insecurity, domestic violence and child separation, for recipients, 68 percent of whom are seniors, children, or people with disabilities. SNAP is our nation’s largest child nutrition program – one in four children in the U.S. lives in families that receive SNAP benefits. SNAP improves the health and educational outcomes of children in the near- and long-term and improves the health of their parents. 

Families participating in SNAP are also 28 percent more likely to be able to pay for medical expenses without forgoing basic necessities like food, rent and utilities. In addition, SNAP is an economy booster: economists estimate that in a weak economy, $1 in SNAP benefits expands the economy by about $1.70.18 In a recent survey in Maine, nearly half of respondents said they would go hungry without SNAP.19 Federal and state assistance programs also help people get and keep good jobs. 

Child care subsidies, for example, allow parents to go to work or school and provide children with quality educational experiences in the critical early years. Single mothers were more likely to be employed, more likely to be employed full time, and more likely to have stable employment when receiving child care subsidies.

Unfortunately, many of these effective anti-poverty programs do not reach enough of the people they are designed to help. The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program was designed to help families meet their most basic needs and provide employment, education and training services for low-income parents. But the number of Maine families receiving cash benefits through TANF has dropped 66 percent since May 2012, when a state-imposed five-year lifetime cap on benefits took effect.

Two-thirds of people in Maine who lost benefits as a result of the cap still didn’t have work four years after the cap took effect, leaving most families without cash assistance or earnings from employment. And the third who did work were not earning enough to make ends meet.

All told, roughly 9,000 Maine families, including 16,000 children, lost help from the TANF program between 2011-2016.23 More than 28 million Americans, including 106,000 Mainers, remain uninsured. Low-income adults in the states that refused to expand access to Medicaid to their low-income residents are uninsured at nearly twice the rates of those in states that have taken this step to expand coverage, leaving them at even greater risk for overwhelming medical costs and, too often, forcing them to forgo necessary medical treatments. 

The lack of child care holds back working parents. Only one out of seven children eligible to receive federal child care assistance is getting any help, and more than 373,000 children in need have lost access to child care since 2006, including 2,600 children in Maine, leaving families to struggle to pay for care or forgo jobs to stay home and provide care. 

Nationally, only one in four qualifying renters receives rental assistance because Congress has not provided enough funding.

Between 2004 and 2015, the number of families with children receiving rental vouchers dropped by 250,000 – a 13 percent decline. This is despite the fact that the Census 5 data show that 45 percent of Maine households with income less than $20,000 a year spend more than half of their income on housing. The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), an extremely effective anti-poverty and pro-work tax credit, provides far less help to low-income workers who aren’t raising children. This group has an unenviable distinction as the only group of Americans who are taxed into poverty. 

Expanding the EITC to these workers would benefit up to 16.2 million people.

Similarly, families with children earning less than $3,000 a year are excluded from claiming the Child Tax Credit (CTC), denying help to children because their parents, despite working, are too poor. Expanding the CTC to these poorest children and families would benefit millions every year. As noted above, Maine’s Governor and policy makers have instituted changes in recent years that have further limited access to anti-poverty programs in our state. We know that there are approximately 100,000 fewer people receiving help from assistance programs in our state than did in 2011, when most of these policy changes began. This could include tens of thousands who would have been lifted out of poverty had those changes not been made. The Trump Administration and Congress Would Make Maine Poorer Proposals from President Trump and leadership in Congress to cut successful anti-poverty programs like Medicaid, SNAP, housing assistance, and others would harm individuals and families and would turn back the progress we’ve made in reducing poverty. 

For example, the House and Senate passed a joint FY 2018 Budget Resolution that calls for about $5 trillion dollars in cuts through 2027 to the full range of services the federal government provides, except for allowing increases in military spending. It would cut Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and other health programs by $1.3 trillion over that ten-year period. Medicare would be cut by $473 billion. Programs in the “income security” category (which includes SNAP/food stamps, Supplemental Security Income for poor seniors and people with disabilities, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, unemployment insurance and low-income tax credits) would drop by $653 billion. The Senate plan calls for $800 billion in cuts to domestic appropriations, threatening further cuts to housing, education, and substance abuse treatment, to name just a few. By 2027, the Senate budget would slash these programs to 29 percent below their levels in FY 2010, taking inflation into account. 

If these cuts are made proportionally, by 2027, 900,000 low-income households would lose their rent subsidies,  despite their success in lifting millions of families out of poverty. 

Even with the ACA remaining in place, the Trump administration has announced it will allow inadequate insurance plans that do not assure protections for people with pre-existing conditions or expensive medical needs. The administration will stop making payments to insurance companies for low-income policy-holders, all aimed at further weakening the law. In addition, the Trump administration has been undermining the ACA by refusing to advertise open enrollment or to approve requests by states to improve their programs. 

These actions, plus unspecified Medicaid and ACA cuts in the budget, can significantly undo the progress made in reducing the number of uninsured Mainers by 41,000 since 2013 and threaten the impact of Maine’s newly voter-enacted Medicaid expansion law. While not all of the cuts in the budget are expected to become law, they show the vision of the House and Senate leadership – to drastically reduce critical programs for low-income families. 

Cuts in President Trump’s budget are extremely harsh, including $4.3 trillion in cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education, and other programs and services that help working families get by and get ahead. 

If just three of President Trump’s proposed budget cuts had been in effect in 2015, an additional 2.3 million Americans would have been in poverty that year. 

In addition to these threats, passage of the budget resolution will allow Congress to use special rules known as reconciliation to fast-track huge tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations, and perhaps to expedite cuts to safety net programs as well, and to do so with only a simple majority in the Senate.

The budget will allow Congress to increase the deficit by $1.5 trillion over 10 years to give tax cuts to those with the highest incomes. The loss of this revenue will inevitably hurt low- and middle-income Americans, both because services they need are slated for cuts at the outset, and because a ballooning debt will eventually increase pressure to cut programs people rely on. Spending bills passed by the House in July and September for Fiscal Year 2018 would also continue and worsen years of cuts, totaling more than $8 billion to non-defense programs. This includes slashing or eliminating multiple education programs, apprenticeship and employment services, low-income housing, community development programs, mental health and substance abuse treatment, programs to remove lead and other harmful toxins from homes, and other programs vital to low-income communities. The House spending package fails to renew nearly 140,000 housing vouchers in use this year, including 744 vouchers in Maine, increasing homelessness and housing instability. 

In total, the House spending package cuts critical non-defense programs $5 billion below the already austere sequestration-level spending caps for FY18. 

As the House and Senate have not yet actually agreed upon detailed spending bills for FY18, which began October 1, (this date has now been extended into January 2018) most government programs are operating with funding levels that are flat from 2017. 

While this avoids disastrous cuts to critical low-income programs in the short term, inflation continues to erode them, and it also denies them the additional investments they need to be able to expand to help more people. Before the current stop-gap spending bill expires in December, Congress needs to agree on a bipartisan deal to lift the harmful sequester spending limits on domestic discretionary (annually-appropriated) programs for FY18 and future years that will allow for these necessary investments. As mentioned above, Congressional leadership and President Trump are proposing devastating cuts to human needs programs while also trying to fast-track massive tax cuts for the rich and for corporations. 

Tax cut bills passed by the House and Senate benefit those at the top by, for example, repealing or reducing taxes that only affect taxpayers with the highest incomes. 

Moreover, the Republican tax plan will also slash the corporate tax rate. The bills would not only reduce federal coffers by trillions of dollars over a decade, taking away money that could instead be invested in improving the lives of low- and middle-income Americans, they would starve local and state governments, too, affecting education, public safety, and other services they provide. Taxpayers in the top 1 percent would receive 31 percent of the plan’s net tax cuts in 2018, and 48 percent of the cuts in 2027.

Numerous studies have shown that tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations create few jobs or economic growth, despite the fact that these claims are often used as excuses for such cuts.

President Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program threatens to strip from 800,000 young adults – including roughly 40 in Maine – the ability to work legally and, in some states, the ability to drive legally and attend college to better their lives. 

Forcing these individuals, more than 90 percent of whom have jobs, and who are more likely than the general population to start their own businesses,36 to again live in the shadows or be deported will surely not decrease poverty in our nation. 

In fact, a prominent economist has estimated that five years after a repeal of DACA, the nation’s gross domestic product would be $105 billion less than it would be if the program stays in place.37 Additional proposals in Congress that would add work requirements to SNAP or Medicaid would hurt individuals and our nation, not help them. 

Studies have shown that work requirements – including those instituted here in Maine – don’t have a significant effect on work efforts or the well-being of those subjected to them, don’t cut poverty, and in some cases actually increase poverty. 

In October 2014, Maine reinstated statewide time limits for SNAP recipients who weren’t employed at least half-time or in a qualifying work or training program, even if they were searching diligently for a job or working less than 20 hours a week. 

This caused thousands of the state’s poorest residents to lose essential SNAP benefits; participation in SNAP among childless adults subjected to the time limit fell 70-80 percent after the time limit returned. 

At the same time, Maine work rates were nearly the same before and after the time limit. A proposal to add work requirements to MaineCare is also misguided and harmful. More than 30,000 Mainers with low income, and some with chronic conditions, would be subject to a work requirement, premium payments, and asset tests under a proposed waiver. Thousands will likely lose access to affordable health care and have no other means of obtaining it, leaving their medical conditions to worsen and leaving them less able to get and maintain employment. 

This proposal would not only hurt those Mainers directly affected by it, but it would hurt Maine’s economy as well.

Similarly, national proposals to tie work requirements to Medicaid would likely increase the number of uninsured and leave without coverage individuals who can’t work because they are caring for a family member, have a mental health issue, are without access to child care or transportation, or are working but do not have enough hours. Adding work requirements to SNAP nationwide is also misguided, as the vast majority of SNAP recipients are either already working, are looking for work, are unable to work, or are not expected to work (children or the elderly). 

More than 50 percent of households with at least one working-age, non-disabled adult worked while receiving SNAP, with more than 80 percent working in the year prior to or after receiving SNAP. 

In families with children, more than 60 percent of recipients work while receiving SNAP, with almost 90 percent working in the year prior to or after receiving benefits.

The Census Bureau data also shows that in nearly two-thirds of poor families in Maine, at least one person worked at least part time or part of the year. 

In addition to the human toll poverty takes, it is also expensive for our nation. Child poverty alone has been estimated to cost the U.S. economy 3.8 percent of our gross domestic product (GDP), or $672 billion in 2015.  Child poverty results in a less-educated workforce, which reduces productivity and economic output years later, and higher physical and mental health costs. 

Unstable housing among families with children will cost the nation as estimated $111 billion in health and education expenditures over the next ten years.

If our elected leaders really want to boost our economy, and create jobs and a highly-skilled labor force, they would invest in programs that lift millions of children out of poverty, not cut them

Rather than cut, Americans should invest in programs that allow parents to find and keep good paying jobs, like training programs, scheduling and paid leave protections, and child care. And they would require the wealthy and big corporations to pay their fair share, so we can increase these investments. 

We Can – and must – continue to make progress for the millions still struggling. We can – and should – do more to further reduce poverty for the millions of Americans still struggling. 

To achieve this goal, Maine Equal Justice Partners and the Coalition on Human Needs recommend the following actions for Congress and President Trump: 

 Reject cuts to proven anti-poverty programs; instead protect and expand funding for programs including SNAP, Medicaid, housing subsidies and others. 

 Reject tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations that will lead to further cuts in domestic programs. Paying for tax cuts for the rich while cutting programs for the poor, infrastructure investments and public health protections is simply wrong. Corporations and the wealthy need to pay their fair share. 

 Lift sequester caps for domestic discretionary programs to boost investments in education and many other programs. A bipartisan deal, similar to those reached in past years, is needed to lift the austere sequester-level spending caps for FY18 and beyond. 

 Increase federal funding for housing subsidies and child care subsidies. As Congress continues its FY18 appropriations process, it should increase funding to provide millions more low-income Americans in need with access to safe, stable housing and quality, affordable child care. 

 Expand the Earned Income Tax Credit to workers not raising children and expand the Child Tax Credit to families making less than $3,000 a year. A bipartisan group of members of Congress have previously shown support for expanding the EITC, so helping workers without dependent children should be a top priority for Congress. Congress should also act to ensure all low-income children benefit from the CTC. 

 Reject harsh time limits and work requirements for SNAP, Medicaid, and subsidized housing recipients. Congress should end the harsh time limits on SNAP benefits for certain jobless adults willing to work. 

 Congress should once and for all abandon efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and instead stabilize the law’s insurance markets. Maine should promptly implement the vote of the people to provide Medicaid to all under 138 percent of the federal poverty level. 

Other states should follow. 

States that haven’t yet expanded health coverage to low-income Americans by drawing down federal Medicaid dollars should do so. Governors of states that have continued to deny health coverage to low-income residents should end this costly failure 9 to take advantage of federal dollars on the table to provide necessary health care to those who can least afford it. 

 Congress should enact the Dream Act, providing legal status and a path to citizenship for the young people brought to this country as children. America is the only home many of them have ever known. They are Americans and should be regarded as such. 

Dreamers deserve freedom to work, learn, and serve in the armed services, where they contribute to economic growth. 

Reducing poverty clearly should be a top priority for our nation. The evidence shows that proven antipoverty programs like SNAP, housing assistance, and low-income tax credits are effective at lifting millions of people out of poverty and building family economic security. As a whole, the U.S. has made progress in reducing poverty and now is not the time to turn back this progress. 
Maine, which has not shared in that progress in recent years, serves as a cautionary tale. Harmful cuts to Maine’s anti-poverty programs have coincided with shameful outcomes related to hunger, health care and child poverty. 

Frankly, the last thing we should be doing as a nation is cutting programs for those who need help the most to give giant tax cuts to those who most certainly do not need it. 

Instead, Congress and the Trump administration must invest more in proven anti-poverty programs to speed up this progress and extend it to more of our neighbors in Maine. 

This report was prepared by Maine Equal Justice Partners and the Coalition on Human

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