Weekly Round-Up: Health Care Reform's Constitutionality, Strengthening the Middle Class & More
Mar 30, 2012
Select CLASP blog posts and other highlights
On Thursday, Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa, introduced the Rebuild America Act to help strengthen the nation's middle class by supporting low- and middle-income families. In recent years, middle-class families have faced eroding incomes, and many have fallen into poverty as a result of the worst job market in generations. This legislation includes a number of provisions to help more families reach and stay in the middle class. CLASP supports the bill's opportunities for education and training, paid sick leave and child care assistance. For more information on these provisions, read CLASP executive director Alan W. Houseman's full statement.
Also on the Hill this week, the House of Representatives passed House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's budget proposal by a vote of 228-191. While this proposal is unlikely to become law as is, it presents a set of priorities that include protecting tax cuts for the wealthy while slashing the social safety net and programs that matter for ordinary Americans—programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. In a video posted to Facebook, CLASP senior policy analyst Elizabeth Lower-Basch said the proposal simply pays lipservice to the idea that deficit reduction shouldn't come at the expense of vulnerable families.
In this post, CLASP senior policy analyst Vickie Choitz examined how Rep. Ryan's budget would cut Pell Grants and other student financial aid—a short-sighted move given the country lacks enough skilled workers to meet employer demand. These cuts are even more harmful since many low-income students already risk losing federal student financial aid thanks to the elimination of something called the "Ability to Benefit" (AtB) option. Two new CLASP resources lay out the facts of the issue and explain why reinstatement of AtB is essential for maintaining access to education and training for low-income, low-skilled students.
Across the street from Congress, the Supreme Court heard arguments this week on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. While all Americans will be impacted by the Court's decision, Alan W. Houseman explored what's at stake for low-income children, youth and adults—and the stakes couldn't be higher. As a result of the Affordable Care Act, virtually all low-income Americans will become insured. Currently, high medical costs are a leading contributor to the economic insecurity of many families.
CLASP also this week released a new analysis of data on the Early Head Start program, which provides poor children under age 3 and pregnant women with access to a range of services such as health screenings, parenting resources, and social services. With one in four of our infants and toddlers living in a family earning just $60 a day, programs like Early Head Start make a real difference.
- Reuters' David Cay Johnston looks at a recent trend of states doing away with guaranteed land line phone service and impacts for low-income and poor people in his column "Phone service for all, no matter what kind."
- A new report from the Coalition on Human Needs, Self-Inflicted Wounds: Protecting Families and Our Economy from Bad Budget Choices, examines the effects of automatic budget cuts to programs serving vulnerable families.