What a Government Shutdown Means for Low-Income Children

To learn more about government benefits that protect children, check out From Welfare to Work: What the 1996 Welfare Reform Initiative has Meant for Children, by Erin Holland, available on Westlaw.

by Molly Thornton

In the weeks leading up to the government shutdown in January of 2018, President Trump issued a series of tweets in which he warned that a government shutdown would have a devastating effect on the nation’s military.[1] In reality, much of the Department of Defense would continue working during a shutdown, continuing “operations necessary for the safety of human life or the protection of property.”[2] In addition to exaggerating the effect of a government shutdown on the military, President Trump’s tweets completely ignored a group that is far more vulnerable to the effects of a shutdown than the military: low-income children.

When the federal government last shut down in 2013, the Republican-led House refused to pass an appropriations bill unless President Obama and the Democrat-led Senate would agree to a budget that eliminated funding for the Affordable Care Act.[3] Lasting a period of sixteen days, the shutdown had a significant negative impact on a number federally-funded programs on which low-income children and their families rely. One such example is the program Head Start,[4] which operates centers that prepare low-income children for success in Kindergarten.[5] Without funding to pay employees, Head Start centers across the country were forced to close for up to nine days, affecting over 6,300 low-income children and their families.[6]

Continue reading

Underbanking in the United States

by Ibe Alozie

This article discusses underbanking (and its nexus to poverty) in American households, steps that the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (CFPB) has taken to mitigate the effects of underbanking, and recent changes at the CFPB that increase the likelihood that the CFPB will be less active in mitigating the effects of underbanking. To learn more about underbanking, check out From Paper to Electronic: Food Stamps, Social Security, and the Changing Functionality of Government Benefits, by Sarah Carrier, available on Westlaw and LexisNexis.

A household is considered “underbanked” when it has an account at an insured institution or bank but still uses alternative financial systems or services outside of the banking system.[1] Rather than going through the traditional banking system, these households use money orders, cash checking, auto title loans, or pawn shop loans, among others, to meet their financial needs.[2]  While 68% of households in the United States are fully banked, a 2015 survey by the Federal Deposit Insurance Company (FDIC) found that 19.9% of households in the United States—approximately 24.5 million households—are underbanked.[3]

Continue reading

The Justice Reinvestment Act: An Opportunity for Change and Progress in Maryland

by Sophie Breene

PastedGraphic-2

Image available here.

On May 19, 2016, Governor Larry Hogan signed the Justice Reinvestment Act (JRA) into law, making Maryland the 26th state to pass some form of justice reinvestment legislation in the past ten years.[1] Beginning in October 2017, incarcerated individuals can petition the courts to start putting the law’s provisions into action.[2] The law came to pass after several rounds of bipartisan negotiations, and thus critics on both sides of the political spectrum argue that JRA does too much or not enough for criminal reform.[3] Despite its limitations, the new law will help to curb the cycle of incarceration that disproportionately hurts people living in poverty.

Continue reading

Why the Congress Must Amend the Indian Child Welfare Act

by Dylan Byrd

The Supreme Court’s decision in Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl dismantled vital protections for Native American children by unfairly limiting important federal statutes.[1]

In the 1970s, the federal government was in the process of removing one out of every three Native American children from their tribes and placing them in mainstream American institutions, foster homes, or adoptive homes.[2] To the average American child, the 1970s were enigmatic of the first Hollywood blockbuster or the grand opening of Walt Disney World. To the Sovereign Nation, this particular decade threatened to cripple its millennial generation, vis-à-vis state agencies’ removal of almost 40 percent of young Native children from their families.[3] This trend illustrates the government’s systematic denial of opportunities for Native American children to participate in their historic cultures, ideals, and experiences.

Continue reading

Defend the Affordable Care Act, Lather, Rinse, Repeat

by Deborah Steinberg

20431531_4138475620374_6561215065561396283_n

Photo by Deborah Steinberg

The Senate Gallery was packed for 1:00 a.m. on a bleak Thursday night, or more accurately Friday morning. It was a relief just to sit down, after we had been rallying outside the Capitol for six hours. Of course, these six hours were piled on top of night after night, week after week, of standing with disability rights groups, reproductive rights organizations, people fighting for transgender equality, and thousands of other individuals fighting to keep the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the current structure of Medicaid in place.[1] No one believed the 2010 law was perfect, but the ACA was the first successful effort to regulate the health insurance market and ensure that low- and middle-income families as well as people with pre-existing conditions could access affordable and comprehensive care.[2] So we had fought, seemingly nonstop, for months to prevent these consumer protections from being repealed, as the Republican Party had been promising to do for the seven years since Obamacare was signed into law. It had been a long summer.

Continue reading

Backlash Against Proposition 47: Why the Criticism of California’s Criminal Justice Reform is Misguided

by Michael Waxman

In 2014, criminal justice reform advocates proclaimed the ballot initiative Proposition 47 a historic step toward transforming California’s beleaguered criminal justice system.[1] But in the years since, media outlets and law enforcement groups are lashing back at the law for increasing crime rates. However, this criticism is largely unfounded because there is little evidence that Prop. 47 has had a causal impact on crime. Moreover, critics have overlooked the law’s potential benefits from investing millions of dollars in treatment and services for low-income communities. Ultimately, Prop. 47’s success or failure in rehabilitating California’s justice system and revitalizing low-income communities will likely have major political and policy implications for criminal justice and poverty reform efforts at the local, state, and national level.

Continue reading

Republicans Hurt Low Wage Workers by Overturning Obama Era Worker Protection Rule

In this blog post, Staff Editor Keith Taubenblatt reflects on the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces rule and its recent repeal.

By Keith Taubenblatt

teamwork-2016423_1920

Photo available here.

Republicans in Congress and President Trump have done away with an important Obama era worker protection measure.[1] On July 31, 2014, President Obama signed Executive Order 13673, requiring companies seeking or holding federal contracts in excess of $500,000 to disclose their prior labor law violations to the government. EO 13673 was the Obama administration’s response to decades of evidence showing labor law violations by federal contractors, and it was an attempt to protect workers employed by those companies from hazardous working conditions and wage theft.[2] A significant number of the workers employed by federal contractors are low-wage earners most at risk for abuse by employers.[3] Nonetheless, Congressional Republicans and the President have deemed EO 13673 unnecessary to the protection of these vulnerable workers.[4] The evidence suggests that their judgment is flawed.

Continue reading

How a Billionaire President Could Impact the Working Class

by Desiree Tims

donald-trump-offical-photo

President Donald Trump Official Photo, available here

On November 8, 2016, the United States elected its forty-fifth President of the United States.[1] The historic presidential election of Republican Nominee, Donald J. Trump, who is a real-estate billionaire, sparked a national debate between those who support and oppose him due to his divisive campaign rhetoric and political inexperience.[2]

Polling data revealed that Trump received an overwhelming amount of support from working-class white voters.[3] Trump’s thematic “Make America Great Again” slogan was followed by his campaign promises to reinforce law and order, restrict immigration and reduce taxes.[4] Trump has many working-class supporters—some who yearn for the return of high-paying hourly factory jobs—as well as high-income supporters who deeply desire a change to the federal tax code.[5] Furthermore, Trump’s self-declaration as the “law and order candidate” has fueled the debate on criminal justice reform, racial disparities, and equitable application of law.[6]

President-elect Trump’s impact on working-class Americans remains to be seen, but here are three issues that could come to bear during his time in office:

Continue reading