June 26, 2013 – Hannah Williams is a 21-year-old gregarious single parent who works full time and is studying to become a nurse. Her daughter, Grace, has medical needs like any other 3-year-old kid.
So when the cash-strapped Williams foots the bill for those needs, money gets tight.
“It’s a big burden,” she said. “When you’re a single parent, you are the provider, the nurturer and I’m stuck with next to nothing.”
Williams, of Pittsburgh, is one of about 500,000 people in Pennsylvania who don’t qualify for Medicaid, but would if lawmakers decide to expand the medical assistance program by accepting federal funding.
Medicaid expansion supporters march to the governor’s residence Wednesday to stage a "sick-in."
The expansion, as proposed by the Affordable Care Act, would make all adults between the age of 19 and 64 who are at or below 133 percent of the federal poverty level eligible to receive Medicaid.
Just two hours after the Supreme Court reasoned that discrimination is not rampant enough in Southern states to warrant restrictions under the Voting Rights Act, Texas is already advancing a voter ID law and a redistricting map blocked last year for discriminating against black and Latino residents. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott issued a statement declaring that both measures may go into effect immediately, now that there is no law stopping them from discriminating against minorities.
In 2012, the Justice Department blocked these measures under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Federal courts agreed that both the strict voter ID law and the redistricting map would disproportionately target the state’s fast-growing minority communities. Still, Texas filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court over the Voting Rights Act case complaining that the DOJ had used “abusive and heavy-handed tactics” to thwart the state’s attempts at voter suppression.
In the case of the new electoral map, a panel of federal judges found that “substantial surgery” was done to predominantly black districts, cutting off representatives’ offices from their strongest fundraising bases. Meanwhile, white Congress members’ districts were either preserved or “redrawn to include particular country clubs and, in one case, the school belonging to the incumbent’s grandchildren.” The new map was also drawn in secret by white Republican representatives, without notifying their black and Latino peers. After the court blocked the map, the legislature approved small changes to appease Democratic lawmakers last week. Now that they are free to use the old maps, however, Gov. Rick Perry (R) could simply veto the new plan and use the more discriminatory maps.
The House Farm bill was just defeated by 62 Republicans and 133 Democrats. This was a major defeat for the House Republican leadership. It highlights the unpredictability of the far-right Tea Party caucus .
On Monday June 17th Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) held demonstrations across the country at the offices of Democratic Representatives demanding a ‘No’ vote on the Farm Bill. It contained $20 billion cuts in SNAP, aka food stamps.
Members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus challenged other Democratic representatives to join them in a one week food stamp diet to dramatize the impact of the proposed cuts.
On Wednesday June 19th PDA members visited over 150 Congressional district offices to demand a ‘No’ vote on the Farm Bill. The swing of a large majority of Democrats against the bill was aided by President Obama’s statement that he would veto a Farm Bill with massive cuts to food assistance. The AFL-CIO also stated its opposition to the cuts.
Members of the PA 12th CD Chapter visited the Beaver office of Representative Rothfus and faxed letters stating our opposition to cuts in food assistance. Representative Rothfus, a Tea Party caucus member, voted against the Farm Bill even though is was sponsored by his own party leadership. Rothfus made no comment on the House floor in the debate over the Farm Bill.
Calls to Rothfus office failed to elicit a statement or comment on this vote. When asked, Rothfus Washington staff stated that the reason for his vote was not “a secret.” Rothfus’ office promised that a “letter explaining his position” will be mailed in the future.
The commentary below was just published in the Washington Post. It analyzes the situation within the Republican Party. The Democrats voted against the bill because the cuts in food stamps were too much; the Tea Party voted against the bill because the cuts were not deep enough.
The 2014 election will go a long way in determining whether people in the US will starve or continue to get food aid while the economic crisis drags on.
The failure of the farm bill — and why House Republicans can’t be led
By Chris Cillizza, Updated: June 20, 2013
The House Republican conference simply cannot be led.
Republican insiders immediately tried to foist the blame on Democrats, insisting that 40 “yea” votes had been promised and the vote count was dependent on those votes being delivered. (Worth noting: The administration made clear in a statement Monday that President Obama would veto the bill if it passed, a declaration that undoubtedly had a chilling effect on Democratic votes in favor of the legislation.)
It’s down to this; the Senate says cut $4 billion from the food stamps program, the House says cut $20 billion. The “compromise” will no doubt be somewhere in between.
We say no.
We join with Rep. Jim McGovern to ask for a “No!” vote on the farm bill, if these awful cuts remain.
We say no more hunger, at a time when more people rely on food stamps than ever before.
We say no to cutting up to 2 million poor people from food stamps, including hundreds of thousands of hungry children.
We say either restore the food stamp cuts, or vote No on the farm bill.
If you agree with us, join our “Educate Congress” letter drops this week. If you agree with us, please call and email your elected officials. We are progressives. And progressives do not pick on the weak, the poor, the hungry. Progressives do not add to the military budget, while carving up the food stamp budget.
Restore the food stamp cuts, or vote No on the farm bill.
WASHINGTON — Progressive Democrats in Congress are ramping up pressure on the Obama administration to release the text of Trans-Pacific Partnership, a secretive free trade agreement with 10 other nations, amid intensifying controversy over the administration’s transparency record and its treatment of classified information.
The only publicly available information on the terms of the deal has come from leaks, some of which have alarmed public health experts, environmentalist groups and consumer advocates. According to a document leaked in the summer of 2012, the deal would allow corporations to directly challenge government laws and regulations in international courts.
Members of Congress have been provided with only limited access to the negotiation documents. Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) told HuffPost on Monday that he viewed an edited version of the negotiation texts last week, but that secrecy policies at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative created scheduling difficulties that delayed his access for nearly six weeks. The Obama administration has barred any Congressional staffers from reviewing the text and prohibited members of Congress from discussing the specific terms of the text with trade experts and reporters.
“This, more than anything, shows the abuse of the classified information system,” Grayson told HuffPost. “They maintain that the text is classified information. And I get clearance because I’m a member of Congress, but now they tell me that they don’t want me to talk to anybody about it because if I did, I’d be releasing classified information.”