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Granite State Rumblings: Trump’s “Skinny Budget” Is Bad For Working Families

There is a lot happening politically in Washington and in Concord that will impact children and families. Every Child Matters in NH has been focused on advocating for the needs of family and children in both arenas. This week we will take a look at the implications for kids at the federal level. Next week we will focus on New Hampshire legislation and the NH budget.

The Affordable Care Act, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) have worked in unison to dramatically cut the ranks of uninsured children in New Hampshire and across the country. Because of the options available under the ACA the percentage of uninsured children has dropped from 14.9 percent in 1997 to just 4.8 percent in 2015 — a 68 percent reduction. That is impressive! 

And so are you!

With the hard work and dedication of so many who made phone calls, wrote letters and e-mails, attended town hall meetings, visited with Congressional staff, wrote letters to the editor and took a stand, the Affordable Care Act remains the law of the land. Thank you!!

Here’s the skinny on the Skinny (Budget).

President Trump has released his “Skinny Budget” for fiscal year 2018, and the news is not good for families. It cuts funds from the programs that are essential to low-income children and families – education, housing, job training, nutrition for women, infants and children (WIC), energy assistance (LIHEAP), legal assistance, eliminates afterschool and summer care through the 21st Century Learning Centers program, and more. All of these cuts are being made to offset an increase in money for the Pentagon (defense spending). 

Click HERE for a more detailed list of Trump’s FY 2018 Budget cuts from our friends at the Coalition on Human Needs.

Why is the President’s Director of the Office of Management and Budget, Mick Mulvaney, making these cuts to programs that help to warm homes in the winter, educate, feed, and house our children, and eliminate care for children, making it harder for working families to work? 

Watch this video to hear his claims.

So I ask you, why is it okay to tax the single mother of two in Detroit to feed the Pentagon budget but not to feed children and the elderly? When did we become so callous?

Oh! And by the way, high quality afterschool and summer programs DO work. There is a significant body of research demonstrating the positive outcomes associated with participation in quality afterschool programs overall.

  • An evaluation of high-quality afterschool programs (including 21st Century Community Learning Centers) serving 3,000 low-income elementary and middle school students found that regular participation in high-quality afterschool programs by low-income youth resulted in significant gains in math test scores and work habits and reductions in behavioral problems. (Vandell, et.al., 2007)
  • A meta-analysis by the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) that examined 75 studies of 68 afterschool programs found that students who participated in an afterschool program exhibited improved behavior and performed better academically than students who did not participate in a program. (Durlak, et.al., 2010) ~Source: afterschoolalliance.org

Should the 21st Century Learning Centers funding be eliminated, the Afterschool Alliance estimates that 5,717 Granite State children would be impacted. Across the country nearly two million children and families would be left without reliable afterschool choices.

Let’s once again raise our voices, send the e-mails and make the calls to tell the Trump Administration that this budget is bad for kids – and bad for their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, friends……..

Join Every Child Matters today to take action in support of afterschool programs. 

Click here to send a brown bag message to Mick Mulvaney!

NH Congressional Representatives Speak Out After Trump’s Address

Last night, President Trump addressed a joint session of Congress. The address is the President’s opportunity to lay out his agenda for the next year.

Full Text of the speech here

After the speech concluded, New Hampshire Congressional representatives spoke out about Trump’s agenda.

Senator Jeanne Shaheen:

“This evening, President Trump addressed many issues important to Granite Staters and I am committed to working across the aisle on areas of common ground such as combatting the opioid epidemic, rebuilding our infrastructure, providing paid family leave, and lowering the cost of prescription drugs. However, I’m disappointed that many of his promises were significantly undermined by the policies he put forward.” 

“It’s time for President Trump and Republican leadership in Congress to move on from their reckless threats of repealing the Affordable Care Act and begin discussions about how we can work across the aisle to improve the law, lower costs and expand coverage. The healthcare proposals put forward by President Trump this evening will reduce coverage and affordability for thousands of Granite Staters.”

“In his speech, President Trump again promised to expand substance misuse treatment just one day after proposing a budget outline that would force severe cuts to domestic programs that are critical to supporting New Hampshire’s efforts to combat the opioid epidemic.  Doubling down on repeal of the Affordable Care Act and the drastic cuts to the Medicaid program ‎he promised will negate the progress we have made, setting us back in the fight against drug misuse. Once again, the policies put forward by President Trump don’t line up with his promises.”

“I was also troubled that the President passed up another opportunity to send a truly unifying message to the American people. It’s disheartening to again hear him advocate for his un-American Muslim ban executive order and malign immigrants who continue to enrich the fabric of our nation.”

Senator Maggie Hassan: 

“I attended tonight’s address listening intently for signs President Trump understands the challenges we face in New Hampshire, but what we heard reemphasized that this President will never acknowledge the true dangers of his agenda. I was disappointed that President Trump used tonight’s address to double down on backward policies that would harm our efforts to combat the heroin, fentanyl and opioid crisis, take away health insurance coverage from tens of thousands of Granite Staters, and make deep budget cuts that would hurt New Hampshire’s middle class families and economy.

“I brought Ashley Hurteau from Dover as my guest to tonight’s speech because I wanted to highlight our ongoing efforts to combat the substance abuse epidemic. Ashley is now in recovery from heroin addiction after she was able to access substance abuse treatment because of New Hampshire’s bipartisan Medicaid expansion plan. But President Trump has made clear that he supports efforts to eliminate this plan, undermining our efforts to stem the tide of this crisis. I will continue fighting for Ashley, and all Granite Staters, who are struggling with addiction and receiving treatment due to Medicaid expansion.

“While I remain willing to work with the Trump Administration when they are willing to be constructive on priorities that will drive our economy forward and keep our nation safe, it is troubling that President Trump is more focused on a partisan, anti-middle class agenda that would pull our country and economy backward.”

Congresswoman Annie Kuster:

“This evening, I listened as President Trump outlined his vision for America, and I hope he now moves away from the politics of division that have been a hallmark of his campaign and time in office. As we know the Devil is in the details, and I will carefully examine President Trump’s proposals as they are put forward. I stand ready to seek areas of common ground to advance policies shared by both Republicans and Democrats. We can address the opioid epidemic, we can fix our roads and bridges, we can improve care for our veterans, and we can support families with commonsense paid family leave. But we can only do these things if we sit down and work together. I’m ready to do so, I hope Republicans are too.

“However, I will not stand by quietly if the Administration puts the interests of the few ahead of the many. We must fully investigate Trump’s conflicts of interest to ensure our country is always put before business. We cannot turn back the clock on the progress we have made. We must defend the values of inclusivity and acceptance that make America truly great. We cannot jeopardize the healthcare of thousands of Granite Staters by recklessly repealing the Affordable Care Act. I’m committed to protecting the rights of women to make their own healthcare decisions. I’m committed to strengthening Social Security and Medicare for our seniors, and I’m committed to ensuring that members of the LGBTQ community are safe from discrimination.” 

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter:

“In his first forty days in office, President Trump has created deep divisions in our country. He has disregarded the fundamental values our nation was built on: tolerance for religious and ethnic diversity, freedom of the press, and the rule of law.

“President Trump spoke falsely tonight when he claimed we are experiencing the worst financial recovery in more than half a century. The fact is, when President Obama took office on January 20, 2009, we were losing 700,000 jobs a month, and at this point in his term we had already passed a bipartisan jobs bill that 9 out of 10 economists agree saved our country from a Great Depression. We have now had 76 straight months of private-sector job growth thanks to President Obama’s leadership.

“Tonight, President Trump mentioned economic priorities I strongly support – investing in infrastructure and enacting tax relief for the middle class – but the truth is that almost half of his first 100 days have passed with zero action on these priorities.

“There is no better example of words without action than his Affordable Care Act rhetoric, which is being confronted with the reality that tens of thousands in New Hampshire now have access to care, even if they have a pre-existing condition that would have excluded them from coverage before, and even if they need treatment for substance abuse or PTSD. Our health care system has changed for the better, and the people of this nation have said loud and clear: we’re not going back.

“The only actions Donald Trump has taken as President are dragging us backwards, not forwards. In his speech, President Trump boasted about his hiring freeze for ‘non-essential’ federal workers. But the truth is, the men and women at the Manchester VA Medical Center who work to ensure our veterans get the care they deserve, are essential. The workers who have made our Shipyard the best in the world, like Paul O’Connor, my guest for tonight’s speech, are essential. There are countless men and women working in New Hampshire and across the country who President Trump doesn’t see, but we know they are the key to our nation’s prosperity.

“President Trump’s vision of our country excludes so many of the people who make New Hampshire great. His speech propagated anti-immigrant sentiments that cannot coexist with our proud history as a nation of immigrants. Our immigrant neighbors in New Hampshire are not violent criminals; they are our doctors, our students, our small business owners. We must not allow his divisive rhetoric to obscure the principles on which our Founders built this nation.

“Finally, we must acknowledge what President Trump left unsaid tonight. The American people have unanswered questions about his financial holdings, and especially about his ties to Russia. The first forty days of his Presidency have been defined by chaos and resignations. Until President Trump discloses the information we the people demand about his conflicts of interest, we cannot trust anything he says, including his speech tonight.”

Congresswoman Shea-Porter’s guest, Paul O’Connor, former president of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard’s Metal Trades Council, who recently retired after 40 years of civilian service and now serves as an IBEW International Representative, said:

“The vision for America President Trump outlined tonight is wrong for the working men and women in New Hampshire. We need fair wages, good healthcare, fair immigration policies, and a government that works for people, not profits. The working men and women of New Hampshire will not be fooled by this President’s hollow promises, but will judge him by his actions, which so far have failed to reflect the values that make our country truly great.”

Mark Dobbins: “Dear Becky”

Singer and Songwriter Beyonce

Dear Becky:

I’ll wait while you put down your yoga mat.

You voted for Trump. After these past few weeks, I really have to ask, “What the hell were you thinking?” Seriously, Trump? The shouting guy on the TV?

I know, you were so concerned about those email servers. Do you even know what an email server looks like? And Benghazi! Find Benghazi on a map unassisted and I’ll eat a bug.

You overlooked the fact that he broke two marriage vows but somehow think he’ll keep his oath of office.

You overlooked his addiction to tweeting – and tweeting – and tweeting.

You overlooked a lot that would have set your hair on fire had President Obama done the same.

And because of you, every thinking person in this country is freaking out. But not you.

Because you are safe behind your yoga mat of white privilege.

You didn’t join the millions of people who crammed our streets to protest. Because you were busy. Because Emma had a lesson. Because Noah had a game. Because you had to get the oil changed on your SUV. Because you were busy being white. Because it doesn’t affect you – and it never has.

By now you’re sputtering, “But I have black friends,” “I’m not racist,” and my personal favorite, “I’m not privileged.”

Yes, you are. You’re privileged, and probably racist too. Most white people are and don’t even know it – or do, and don’t care.

Here’s a simple way I use to test white privilege. Can you go an entire day without interacting with a person of color if you tried? I’m betting the answer is yes. That’s the bubble of white privilege that you think will protect you. But it won’t. Not by a long shot.

So you want to keep those “nasty hombres” out of our country by building a wall? When the price of your food skyrockets because white folks won’t pick crops, you’ll care then. Because it affects you.

So you think by insulting foreign leaders our nation looks stronger? You equate shouting with strength – because you have always had the microphone and always think you will. How many times have you shouted “I want to see your manager,” when you didn’t get what you wanted, then, at that moment?Now Trump is the manager and there’s no one else to call.

So you think defunding Planned Parenthood will make abortions go away? When Emma comes home someday with bad news, you’ll always have a way to fix that problem. A poor woman’s abortion is Emma’s D&C. Most people won’t have those choices. But you will. That’s why it’s called “pro-choice.” Because we want the choices you have always had – and always will.

By now you’re probably angry and about to write something nasty in the comments section. I hope you do. I want you to be angry. As I promised in my first column, I’ll probably make you mad from time to time. This is one of those times.

But stop for a moment and think.

Could I be just a little bit right?

And could you be just a little bit white – and privileged?

Regards,

Mark

PS: We’ll talk more about this in the upcoming months. I’m just laying the groundwork for that conversation. I hope you’ll stick around.

(Featured Image: Katrina In Yoga Pose, by Earl McGee on Flikr CC)

ACLU of NH Files Demands for Documents on Implementation of Trump’s Immigration Ban

FOIA Filed As Part of Coordinated Campaign With 49 ACLU Affiliates

CONCORD— The American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire filed a Freedom of Information Act request today with its local U.S. Customs and Border Protection office in Boston to learn how Trump administration officials are interpreting and executing the president’s immigration ban, and whether they are acting in violation of federal courts that ordered a stay on the ban’s implementation. The filing today is part of a coordinated effort from 49 ACLU affiliates, which filed 18 FOIAs with CBP field offices and its headquarters spanning 55 international airports across the country. 

“The President’s Executive Order is a major step toward carrying out his campaign threat to ban the admission of Muslims into the United States,” states Devon Chaffee, the ACLU-NH’s Executive Director.  “This Order has already taken a terrible human toll and it should not be allowed to continue.  It separates American families and deprives our country of the contributions that these newcomers, and their children and grandchildren, will make as Americans.” 

Media reports indicate that CBP officials detained and deported individuals, even after federal courts ordered officials to stop enforcing the executive order following a court challenge from the ACLU and other organizations.

“It is imperative that the public learn if federal immigration officials are blatantly defying nationwide federal court orders that block President Trump’s unconstitutional immigration ban,” said Mitra Ebadolahi, Border Litigation Project Staff Attorney with the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties. “To shed light on this critical issue of pressing public concern, 49 ACLU affiliates are using the Freedom of Information Act to expose Customs and Border Protection’s abuse of power.” 

The Trump administration has yet to inform the public of how many refugees, visa holders, and legal permanent residents have been affected by this action. 

The FOIA request was joined by the ACLUs of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.

The request can be found here: https://www.aclumaine.org/sites/default/files/cbp_foia_new_england.pdf

cbp_foia_new_england
 

Trump Reneges On Promise To Reduce Prescription Drug Prices, Retirees Respond

Today, President Trump met with Big Pharma lobbyists and executives. After the meeting Trump was singing a new tune about Medicare negotiating drug prices with Pharmaceutical companies.

“I’ll oppose anything that makes it harder for smaller, younger companies to take the risk of bringing their product to a vibrantly competitive market. That includes price-fixing by the biggest dog in the market, Medicare, which is what’s happening. But we can increase competition and bidding wars, big time.

So what I want, we have to get lower prices, we have to get even better innovation and I want you to move your companies back into the United States. And I want you to manufacture in the United States. We’re going to be lowering taxes, we’re going to be getting rid of regulations that are unnecessary,” wrote Herb Jackson, the designated pool reporter for the day.

In typical GOP fashion, Trump plans to cut taxes and reduce regulations on drug manufactures which through some form of GOP magic will mean lower drug prices for seniors.

Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, called Trumps move an act of “betrayal.” 

“During his campaign Donald Trump promised that if elected, Medicare would negotiate bulk discounts and reduce the prices Americans pay for prescription drugs. 

“Donald Trump is now accusing Medicare of ‘price-fixing.’ It took just one meeting with global pharmaceutical corporation executives and his promise to older Americans is out the window. Welcome to the chameleon presidency. 

“Americans pay the highest prescription drug prices in the world. President Trump’s reversal will drive those prices even higher. He has sided with drug corporations against older Americans who have to choose between putting food on their table and paying for life-saving medicines. 

“On behalf of the 4.4 million members of the Alliance for Retired Americans, we are outraged but not surprised. We challenge him to meet with retirees who struggle daily to pay for medicine that too many times they can’t afford – and not just listen to multi-millionaire drug corporation executives. The Trump Administration will not be able to use its ‘alternative facts’ to wiggle out of this betrayal.”

This betrayal by President Trump added with the fact that the GOP led Congress is pushing a Medicare voucher plan means that many seniors may not be able to afford their life saving medications any longer.

Trump Attempts To Ban Muslims, People And Leaders React, And The ACLU Hails Victory

With the stroke of his pen, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to ban refugees and citizens from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen. The order also prevents Iraqis who supported the U.S. mission and face threats as a result, from coming to the United States.

This order was the fulfillment of one of Trump’s most divisive campaign promises blocking all “Muslims” from entering the United States as Trump portrayed all Muslims as terrorists.  Many fear that this ban is only the first step in the Trump administration agenda against Muslims as he repeatedly called for a national registry of Muslim’s living in the US.

“This executive order is un-American and grossly inhumane,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). “We are a nation of immigrants and should remain welcoming to all nations and faiths, particularly those who are fleeing violence and oppression. Refugees, from Syria in particular, are fleeing unspeakable terror and hunger, and it’s unconscionable that the United States will no longer provide any of these refugees a safe haven.

“This order also endangers our troops and diplomats. Discriminating based on religion and nationality severely undermines the local alliances and trust established by our troops and diplomats in the field. This order is so ill-considered that it is even barring Iraqi civilians who have provided essential assistance to the U.S. mission. We owe a tremendous debt to the brave Iraqis who have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Americans in the field, putting themselves and their families at risk to help our soldiers and diplomats accomplish their mission and return home safely. To abandon them now would be a stain on our national honor,” Shaheen concluded. 

Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) also spoke out against Trump’s “religious test” saying it goes against “the fundamental values that makes America the greatest country on earth”.

“President Trump’s executive action imposing a religious test on entry into the United States runs counter to the fundamental values that make America the greatest country on earth. It will also make us less safe. We must always be working to strengthen the vetting process for all entryways into the United States, but discriminating against individuals on the basis of their religion will only harm our national security interests.” 

“It is also disgraceful that these executive actions would turn away the brave men and women who have risked their lives to serve as interpreters for our military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is both our moral obligation and a national security imperative to assist those who have helped us, and I will support efforts by Senators Shaheen and McCain to authorize visas for these interpreters,” Hassan added. 

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH01) also condemned Trump’s executive order.

“I condemn President Trump’s decision to reject fundamental American values. Our nation’s founders built this nation on dreams of a better, more tolerant society, and now we must stand together and defend and preserve those ideals. I call on President Trump to immediately reverse his actions, and I invite all Granite Staters to join me in letting our refugee and immigrant neighbors know that we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them as one community.”

Ray Buckley, Chair of the NH Democratic Party, and candidate for Chair of the Democratic National Committee, called Trump’s move, “un-American”.

“President Trump may have set a record today in receiving a stunning blowback to his latest executive order restricting travel from Muslim countries. As a candidate for Chair, a member of the Democratic Party, and a patriotic American I condemn this disgrace in the strongest possible terms. It is illegal, reprehensible, and the very definition of un-American. I call upon President Trump to rescind this order, and I call upon lawmakers of both parties to resist this atrocity and remind the President of just what it means to be an American.”

Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, takes pride in the fact that Planned Parenthood offers “high-quality care to everyone regardless of faith, country of origin, immigrant or refugee status,” lashed out at President Trump decision.  

“President Trump’s executive order signed today effectively restricts the ability of immigrants and refugees to enter this country based on their country of origin and religious background. This is an appalling attack on refugees and Muslims, designed to sow fear. The Planned Parenthood community is made up of people from all walks of life — including immigrants and refugees of all backgrounds and faith communities, including Muslims.

“Refugees, who have left everything behind and are forced to negotiate their safety in unfamiliar countries and language, also face unique barriers to care. We’ve seen this firsthand through our health centers in the U.S. – many of which proudly serve refugee communities – as well as through Planned Parenthood Global’s community-based partners in Africa and Latin America, who help so many women and families overcome unimaginable barriers to health including poverty, conflict and violence. These policies single out and target those most in need of access to care, and will only make it more difficult for these communities to access the health care they need.

“At Planned Parenthood we believe that health has no borders: the ability to live and thrive without fear of deportation, surveillance, or having your family torn apart, and the ability to access health care, are basic human rights. Planned Parenthood health centers are proud to provide high-quality care to everyone regardless of faith, country of origin, immigrant or refugee status, or to those who may otherwise have nowhere else to turn for health care. We are committed to standing with immigrants and refugees, in the U.S. and in many of their countries of origin, through our global partnerships.  

“These policies hurt the most vulnerable in the world, people fleeing in terror for their lives, or people simply coming from a different faith, just when they need our help the most. The United States was founded on values of refuge and compassion, which is why we are prepared to stand alongside our partners to fight back against this hate and discrimination,” Richards concluded. 

Immediately after the order was signed, outraged Americans took to the streets in protests.  They packed into airports across the country as immigrants were detained and refused entrance into the US even though they had legal visa’s.

The same thing spontaneously happened in Houston, Texas.

By far the largest was in New York and JFK’s international terminal where thousands showed up to protest. Protesters were joined by the NY Taxi Cab Alliance, a union of taxi drivers, who refused to pick up anyone at the airport during the protest.

AND IT WORKED! Last night, a federal judge granted the American Civil Liberties Union’s request for a nationwide temporary injunction that will block the deportation of all people stranded in U.S. airports under President Trump’s new Muslim ban. The ACLU and other legal organizations filed a lawsuit on behalf of individuals who were subject to the ban.  The lead plaintiffs have been detained by the U.S. government and threatened with deportation even though they have valid visas to enter the United States.

Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project who argued the case, said:

“This ruling preserves the status quo and ensures that people who have been granted permission to be in this country are not illegally removed off U.S. soil.”

ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero, had this reaction to the ruling:

“Clearly the judge understood the possibility for irreparable harm to hundreds of immigrants and lawful visitors to this country. Our courts today worked as they should as bulwarks against government abuse or unconstitutional policies and orders. On week one, Donald Trump suffered his first loss in court.”

(The stay order is at: https://www.aclu.org/legal-document/darweesh-v-trump-order)

Quakers to Trump: Sanctuary, Not Walls

AFSC speaks out on executive orders, urges congressional action

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, President Donald Trump announced sweeping executive actions that would expand the border wall, cut federal funding to sanctuary cities and increase the number of people Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will target for deportation. The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) – a Quaker organization that has worked for immigrant and refugee rights for almost 100 years – denounced these policies as dangerous and divisive.

“For more than two decades, border wall infrastructure has contributed to the deaths of thousands of migrants fleeing poverty and violence who are forced to cross through deadly terrain,” said Pedro Rios, director of AFSC’s U.S./Mexico Border Program. “This human rights disaster will only be exacerbated with more miles of border walls and excessive, unaccountable enforcement.” While Trump’s executive action paves the way for wall construction, additional congressional action will be needed to fully fund the project. AFSC is calling on Congress to do everything in their power to stop wall construction and to protect the human rights of migrants and those in border communities. 

Trump also signed an executive order limiting federal funding to “sanctuary cities.” More than 350 jurisdictions across the country have enacted policies prohibiting local officials from taking actions like asking people about their immigration status, holding people so ICE can detain them, or sharing information with ICE. 

“Limiting collusion between ICE and local law enforcement has been an essential first step to keeping our communities and families safe from unjust deportation policies,” said AFSC’s policy impact coordinator Kathryn Johnson. “We’re calling on congress to respect the Fourth Amendment and oppose legislation that punishes ‘sanctuary cities.’” 

The executive orders also dramatically expand the number of Customs and Border Patrol agents, call for aggressive immigration enforcement within the country, and for mandatory detention at the border – including of children and families. 

“These policies are immoral, astronomically expensive, racially discriminatory, and threaten to tear apart families and communities” said Johnson. “That’s why AFSC and our partners across this country and around the world are standing together to demand congress oppose these priorities.”

AFSC’s programs outside the U.S. are also voicing concerns. “Through our work in Central America and Mexico we know that many people fleeing to the U.S. are doing so because of violence and extreme poverty,” said Douglas Juarez, AFSC’s Regional Migration Program Coordinator. “Closing the U.S.’s doors to these children, women and men puts their lives at risks as they are returned to the danger they fled. These problems must not be addressed through security and militarization, but through following international law and respecting everyone’s right to migrate.” 

But AFSC and other organizations are not just waiting for congress to take action. They have launched a campaign, called #SanctuaryEverywhere, to help everyday people protect each other from these attacks. According to Lori Khamala, who directs AFSC’s immigrant rights program in North Carolina, they hope to equip thousands of people with training and tools to create sanctuary wherever they are. 

Says Khamala, “whether we are welcoming refugees or working to stop deportations; protecting religious groups who have been targeted and attacked; working to ensure that Black Lives Matter by interrupting anti-Black violence; or protecting the rights of LGBTQI people, we are all in this together.” 

President Trump’s Federal Hiring Freeze Will Cost Taxpayers and Hurt Americans, AFGE Says

Executive Order slashing federal workforce will trigger increase in costly contractors

WASHINGTON – Donald Trump is backtracking on campaign pledges to create American jobs and cut wasteful government spending by issuing an executive order to freeze federal employee hiring across the country, which will result in more work being outsourced to more expensive contractors, the American Federation of Government Employees said today.

“President Trump’s action will disrupt government programs and services that benefit everyone and actually increase taxpayer costs by forcing agencies to hire more expensive contractors to do work that civilian government employees are already doing for far less,” AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. said.

More than 85 percent of federal employees live and work outside the nation’s capital, so a hiring freeze targeting civilian workers will be felt in cities and towns across the country.

The number of federal employees has been frozen at about 2 million for the past 50 years, since John F. Kennedy was president. Meanwhile the number of contractors employed by the government has grown to at least twice the number of full-time federal employees, and trillions of dollars have been wasted on service contracts and mismanaged weapons systems.

“Numerous studies have shown that contractors are two to three times more costly than each federal employee they replace,” Cox said. “President Trump’s federal hiring freeze will result in more government waste as agencies are forced to hire high-priced contractors to do the work that federal employees can and should be doing.”

President Trump’s executive order excludes employees working on national security and defense issues, which accounts for roughly two-thirds of the current federal workforce. That means the hiring freeze will disproportionately affect domestic agencies and programs, many of which have already endured severe budget cuts this decade.

“This hiring freeze will mean longer lines at Social Security offices, fewer workplace safety inspections, less oversight of environmental polluters, and greater risk to our nation’s food supply and clean water systems,” Cox said.

“All Americans should be outraged that President Trump is gutting federal programs and funneling their taxpayer dollars into the hands of less-regulated private companies who answer to their corporate shareholders and not the American people,” Cox said.

Trump Signs Executive Order To Withdraw From TPP, Wants To Renegotiate NAFTA

Today, President Trump signed an Executive Order to withdraw from the 12 nation Trans-Pacific Partnership.  As of right now, we are unsure of what the order says as it has yet to be released by the White House.

Senator Bernie Sanders, who made his opposition to the TPP a cornerstone in his campaign for President, was “glad” to see the TPP go down in flames.

“I am glad the Trans-Pacific Partnership is dead and gone. For the last 30 years, we have had a series of trade deals – including the North American Free Trade Agreement, permanent normal trade relations with China and others – which have cost us millions of decent-paying jobs and caused a ‘race to the bottom’ which has lowered wages for American workers. Now is the time to develop a new trade policy that helps working families, not just multi-national corporations. If President Trump is serious about a new policy to help American workers then I would be delighted to work with him.”

Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO called this an “important first step” in building a “fair and just global economy.”

“Last year, a powerful coalition of labor, environmental, consumer, public health and allied groups came together to stop the TPP. Today’s announcement that the US is withdrawing from TPP and seeking a reopening of NAFTA is an important first step toward a trade policy that works for working people. While these are necessary actions, they aren’t enough. They are just the first in a series of necessary policy changes required to build a fair and just global economy. We will continue our relentless campaign to create new trade and economic rules that end special privileges for foreign investors and Big Pharma, protect our planet’s precious natural resources and ensure fair pay, safe conditions and a voice in the workplace for all workers.” 

The Hill is also reporting that President Trump plans to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and has “dispatched his son-in-law and senior White House adviser, Jared Kushner to Calgary on Tuesday to begin talks with the cabinet of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.”

Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich was quick to point out on facebook that Trump’s feudal attempt to renegotiate NAFTA is only a distraction from the Republican attacks on working people.

“Trump stirs up symbolic controversies as diversions from what he and the Republicans are really up to.

Take NAFTA for example. He’s gearing up to “renegotiate” it, whatever that means. Expect lots of angry talk on both sides of our southern border.

But NAFTA’s a hill of beans relative Trump’s and the Republican’s pending repeal of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). That will directly hurt millions of working Americans. But Trump wants to distract attention.

Same with Obama’s overtime rule, now hung up in the courts, which Trump is going to axe. It have delivered $12 billion of wage gains over the next decade to American workers.

Ditto labor unions. Trump’s Republicans are busily killing off unions with so-called “right-to-work” laws. The result is less bargaining power for workers to get better wages. But Trump doesn’t want to talk about labor unions. He’d rather beat up on Mexico.

And keep a careful watch on Medicare and Social Security, which have been in Paul Ryan’s cross-hairs for years. We don’t even know what Trump and the Republicans are planning for them, but whatever it is, average working people will take the brunt.”

So the question now becomes will withdrawing and renegotiating the TPP and possibly renegotiating NAFTA really help working people or will it be another chance for Trump and his billionaire buddies to cash in on unbalanced trade agreements?  Only time will tell.

Senator Shaheen To Introduce Legislation To Permanently Repeal The “Global Gag Rule”

Today, newly inaugurated President Trump signed an executive order to reinstate the Global Gag Rule, also known as the Mexico City Policy. This policy bans federal funds for non-governmental organizations that provide abortion services or provide information about abortion as part of family planning services. 

“The so-called Mexico City policy, established by Republican President Ronald Reagan in 1984, blocks federal funding for international family planning charities that provide abortions or “promote” the procedure by providing patients with information about it, including by offering referrals to abortion providers,” wrote Jessie Hillmann for The Hill.

“Trump’s ban could impact foreign organizations like the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPFF), which provides family planning services in more than 180 countries,” Hillmann added.

Tomorrow, Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), the only woman on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, will introduce bipartisan legislation in the Senate that would permanently repeal the Global Gag Rule. 

“The Trump Administration and Republican leadership have made no secret of their dangerous obsession with rolling back reproductive rights,” said Senator Shaheen. “President Trump’s reinstatement of the Global Gag Rule ignores decades of research, instead favoring ideological politics over women and families. We know that when family planning services and contraceptives are easily accessible, there are fewer unplanned pregnancies, maternal deaths, and abortions. And when women have control over their reproductive health, it improves the long-term health of mothers and children and creates a lasting economic benefit. I will continue to stand up to President Trump and Republican leadership in Congress who are intent on rolling back women’s access to reproductive healthcare, and will introduce bipartisan legislation to repeal the Global Gag Rule for good.”

Senator Maggie Hassan, who took office less than a month ago, was unhappy to hear that President Trump was reinstating the Global Gag Rule and says she will support Shaheen’s legislation.

“A woman’s right to make her own health care decisions and control her own destiny is critical to the health and well-being of women around the world. I strongly oppose President Trump’s decision to re-institute a backward policy that will limit women’s access to reproductive health care and family planning services. This dangerous restriction on foreign aid to some of our world’s most vulnerable people is not consistent with our values as Americans. We cannot let efforts to roll back women’s rights go unchecked, and I will support Senator Shaheen’s legislation to permanently repeal the global gag rule.”

“I’m very disappointed that as one of his first actions as President, Donald Trump will be harming poor women and families in countries that can least afford it,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster (D-NH01). “The Global Gag Rule severely limits the ability of international aid organizations to provide comprehensive reproductive healthcare to women around the world and poses a very real threat to our global progress on maternal and child health. The reinstatement of the Global Gag Rule is a clear signal that the Trump Administration does not respect women’s reproductive rights and health.”

This move comes the day after the 44th Anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.  Both Shaheen and Hassan released statements affirming their support of Roe v. Wade and the ability of women to make their own reproductive healthcare decisions.

Senator Shaheen:

“Today’s anniversary of Roe v. Wade is a reminder of the progress we have made and challenges that women still face to access comprehensive reproductive health care,” said Senator Shaheen. “In this last year, the Supreme Court handed down an important decision reinforcing a woman’s right to make her own medical decisions, and we saw the abortion rate drop to the lowest level since 1943. This data is another reminder that when family planning services are accessible and contraceptives are affordable, we see a reduction in unplanned pregnancies and abortion. 

“Despite this progress, women’s reproductive healthcare remains under constant assault. States have continued to pass restrictions intended to shut down clinics and Republican leadership in Congress have already taken steps to defund Planned Parenthood, one of the nation’s leading providers of high-quality, affordable health care for women.” 

“A woman’s personal medical decisions are her own to make in consultation with her family and her doctor. I will continue to stand up against any and all political efforts to rollback women’s reproductive rights in our country.”

Senator Hassan:

“The anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Roe v. Wade is a time to recommit ourselves to working to ensure that women can make their own health choices and chart their own destiny. On the heels of the remarkable Women’s Marches that mobilized millions of women across America yesterday, we must continue to speak up every day to protect our equal rights under the law.

“Protecting a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions and ensuring access to important health services – including critical primary and preventative health services provided at Planned Parenthood clinics across the nation – is essential to the economic vitality of our families, our communities and our nation.

“The efforts in Washington to repeal the Affordable Care Act, defund Planned Parenthood, and turn the clock back on reproductive freedoms undermine Granite Staters’ access to quality, affordable health care at providers they trust, and I will continue fighting any efforts that would force women to pay more for their health care or strip away their freedom to make their own health decisions.”

With known anti-abortion advocate, Vice President Mike Pence by his side, Trump began his assault on women’s reproductive rights.  It is obvious that this is only the first step by the Trump administration attempt to make abortion illegal and overturn Roe v. Wade.

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