Archive | July 2011

Nichelle Mitchem Discusses the “War on Unemployment”

We, as a nation, are several years into a job crisis. Reports of highly disappointing May and June employment gains accompanied by slow economic growth for the first two quarters of 2011 highlight the urgent need for a national plan to grow the economy. The unemployment numbers throughout the country mandate legislative, tangible action to address the crisis. In response to the dismal unemployment figures, an open letter with almost two thousand (2,000) signatures was sent by the National Urban League to the President and Congress urging their support in the “War on Unemployment”.

For the past several weeks, this blog has focused primarily on recently introduced pieces of legislation and other activities undertaken to address the  current economic crisis with a focus on addressing unemployment and the resulting  record bankruptcies, foreclosures, growth in homelessness and food insecurity. Below are several pieces of recent legislation which were introduced to address the unemployment crisis:

Promoting Partnerships to Transform Opportunities Act (H.R. 2611)

The Promoting Partnerships to Transform Opportunities Act (H.R. 2611) is one such
piece of legislation. In response to record employment, the Promoting  Partnerships to Transform Opportunities Act (H.R. 2611) was introduced on July  21, 2011, by US Representative Raul Grijalva (S-AZ7).  This piece of legislation would “…amend the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 to prepare people with multiple barriers to employment to enter the workforce by providing such people with support services, job training, and education, and for other purposes. This new piece of legislation, H.R. 2611, has four (4) cosponsors. It is in the first step of the legislative process.

H.R. 2935

Earlier this year, another piece of legislation was introduced to amend the Workforce
Investment Act of 1998 to permit the establishment of Job Corps centers in the territories of the United States. On June 24, 2011, H.R. 2935 was introduced by Delegate Gregorio Sablan (D-MP) to amend the Workforce Investment Act of 1998. H.R. 2935 has 26 cosponsors. It is also in the first step of the legislative process.

Like most Americans, some members of congress assert that, “It is time for action on
the most important issue of our time—economic opportunity through jobs! Every  American deserves the right to be gainfully employed or own a successful business”—said U.S. Representative Cleaver. I agree. As a result, I just signed a petition that says “America wants to work. It’s time to move on from manufactured crises and focus on jobs.” If you agree with me, will you add your name to the petition? If so, go here to sign the petition: http://act.aflcio.org/c/18/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=2640

Lamont Cranston reminds us that, ” History will judge us either for  our activism or apathy. The choice is ours, but the impact of our decision is ultimately on our children.” If the pressing social issues covered in these posts are important to you, please contact your elected officials in Washington, DC.  For further information on these pieces of legislation, please visit www.govtrack.us. www.opencongress.org.

Source(s): National Urban League. US Rep. Cleaver’s FaceBook page. www.govtrack.us. www.opencongress.org Lamont Cranston. www.grio.com. www.thecincinnatiherald.com. www.theblackamerica.com. AFL-CIO. Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art

Bullying Prevention and Intervention Act of 2011 (H.R. 83)

As reported in the media, bullying is an ever increasing problem with sometimes lethal consequences. The Bullying Prevention and Intervention Act of 2011 (H.R. 83) seeks to address this pressing social problem. The Act will “…amend the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 to require the Attorney General to establish guidelines to prevent and address occurrences of bullying, …provide for grant funding to states for programs to prevent and address occurrences of bullying, and … reauthorize the Juvenile Accountability Block grants program.” The legislation could be an important new tool to empower the community to prevent bullying.

The Bullying Prevention and Intervention Act of 2011 (H.R. 83) was introduced on
January 5, 2011. The sponsor of the Bullying Prevention and Intervention Act of
2011 is Representative Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Texas18) and there are twenty-six
(26) cosponsors for this piece of legislation.

In recognition of the growing prevalence of bullying, the Obama administration has also taken important measures to combat and prevent bullying. This administration is directing resources for the express purpose of reducing bullying incidents and to raising
awareness around its ramifications, and, of course, to countering its negative impact.   Toward that end, the White House convened a conference on preventing bullying, on Thursday, March 11, 2011. The Obama administration also announced the launch of a new website, www.stopbullying.gov, devoted to bullying prevention.

The Stop Bullying website provides information from various government agencies on
how kids, teens, young adults, parents, educators, and others in the community
can prevent or stop bullying. The website also provides information on bullying
prevention and intervention measures. Topics on the website include but are not
limited to: state policies and laws; violence prevention program directories; available
online resources; and research. The website provides bullying prevention
information for varied audiences such as victims, bystanders, parents,
teachers, administrators, and others.

For information on bullying, there are several other websites you can visit including but not limited to: www.ryanpatrickhalligan.org; www.meganmeirfoundation.org;  ww.fightcrime.org; www.bullypolice.org; www.healthline.com; http://www.cyberbullying.us; http://www.stopbullying.org; www.isafe.org; and others.

Source(s): www.govtrack.us. www.whitehouse.gov;  www.hhs.govww.stopbullying.gov; Cyber Research Center; Stop Bullying, Inc.; and i-Safe, Inc.

Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art

Rebuild the American Dream

Earlier this month, people from all walks of life came together with the singular purpose of reclaiming the American Dream for all. In every congressional district, “Rebuild the American Dream” meetings were held in response to the challenges faced with the federal budget. It has been reported that the American Dream Movement is growing stronger by the day. As a participant at a Rebuild the American Dream meeting, I understand that the meetings held across the country were only the first of many steps on the way to regaining the dream for all.  Participants are committed to ensuring that once again Americans are: employed, can afford to go to college, retire with dignity, and secure a future for their children and their communities.

This summer, important action is being taken to bring more people into the political process. In addition to the “Rebuild the American Dream” meetings, there were voter empowerment campaigns held this month across the country. There are three (3) stages in the voter empowerment process: registration, education, and mobilization. It has been reported that volunteers in all fifty (50) states were knocking on doors and registering new voters. The overarching goal of the voter empowerment campaigns lead by the Democratic Party is three-fold: to bring more people into the political process; to make certain that every voter who wants to exercise their right is registered; to ensure the reelection of President Barack Obama and that Democrats take back the United States House of Representatives.

Get involved. Take action that can and will change the future. If you are not already registered, get registered to vote. Seize the opportunity to cast your vote. As was aptly stated by President Johnson when discussing the Voting Rights Act of 1965, “The vote is the most powerful instrument ever devised by man for breaking down injustice and destroying the terrible walls which imprison men because they are different from other men.” Your vote can be decisive, stand up, speak out, be heard— participate in the “Rebuild the American Dream” movement and vote!

For further information on the “Rebuild the American Dream Movement”, visit www.moveon.org. Sources: Moveon.org. Wikipedia. Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art

CIRCLE OF PROTECTION

Today, Bread for the World sent out an Action Alert discussing the “Circle of Protection: A Statement on Why We Need to Protect Programs for the Poor” and encouraging supporters to take action to support funding for programs that serve the most vulnerable members of society.  In the Action Alert, Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, states that, “Everything we have achieved for poor and hungry people in the last 35 years is under severe threat of budget cuts—nutrition programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and SNAP (formerly food stamps), as well as poverty-focused development assistance.”

It has been reported that more than forty-nine (49) million Americans lack reliable access to the food. Childhood hunger is a growing reality in America. In one of the wealthiest nations in the world, the prevalence of childhood hunger is a national travesty and for many a well-kept secret. Approximately, one (1) in four (4) children in America is food insecure. This is not the time to be cutting very necessary programs for the most vulnerable members of our society.

Statistics on Childhood Hunger in the United States:

According to the USDA, over seventeen (17) million children lived in food insecure (low food security and very low food security) households in 2009. ii

Twenty (20) percent or more of the child population in sixteen (16)  states and D.C. are living in food insecure households.  The states of Arkansas twenty-four point four (24.4) percent and Texas twenty-three point three  (24.3) percent have the highest rates of children in households without consistent access to food. (Cook,  John, Child Food Insecurity in the United States: 2006-2008. iii

In 2009, households that had higher rates of food insecurity than the national average included households with children twenty-one point three (21.3) percent, especially households with children headed by single women thirty-six point six (36.6) percent or single men twenty-seven pont eight (27.8) percent, Black non-Hispanic households twenty-four point nine (24.9) percent and Hispanic households twenty-six point nine (26.9) percent.v

These heartbreaking facts about the prevalence and the face of hunger in America and the proposed cuts to very necessary social service programs has drawn the attention of thousands of Christians, people of other faiths, heads of denominations, corporations, and nonprofit organizations and compelled them to take action. These groups have formed what has been termed a “Circle of Protection” around funding for programs that are vital to hungry and poor people both in the United States and abroad. It has been reported that in excess of thirteen thousand (13,000) Americans have signed a memorandum to their members of Congress, supporting the need to reduce deficits but not at the expense of hungry and poor people. The “Circle of Protection” statement reads as follows:

In the face of historic deficits, the nation faces unavoidable choices about how to balance needs and resources and allocate burdens and sacrifices. These choices are economic, political—and moral.

As Christians, we believe the moral measure of the debate is how the most poor and  vulnerable people fare. We look at every budget proposal from the bottom up—how  it treats those Jesus called “the least of these” (Matthew 25:45). They do not have powerful lobbies, but they have the most compelling claim on our consciences and common resources. The Christian community has an obligation to help them be heard, to join with others to insist that programs that serve the most vulnerable in our nation and around the world are protected. We know from our experience serving hungry and homeless people that these programs meet basic human needs and protect the lives and dignity of the most vulnerable. We believe that God is calling us to pray, fast, give alms and to speak out for justice.

As Christian leaders, we are committed to fiscal responsibility and shared sacrifice. We are also committed to resist budget cuts that undermine the lives, dignity, and rights of poor and vulnerable people. Therefore, we join with others to form a Circle of Protection around programs that meet the essential needs of hungry and poor people at home and abroad.

 1. The nation needs to substantially reduce future deficits, but not at the expense of hungry and poor people.

2. Funding focused on reducing poverty should not be cut. It should be made as effective as possible, but not cut.

3. We urge our leaders to protect and improve poverty-focused development and humanitarian assistance to promote a better, safer world.

4. National leaders must review and consider tax revenues, military spending, and entitlements in the search for ways to share sacrifice and cut deficits.

5. A fundamental task is to create jobs and spur economic growth. Decent jobs at decent wages are the best path out of poverty, and restoring growth is a powerful way to reduce deficits.

6. The budget debate has a central moral dimension. Christians are asking how we protect “the least of these.” “What would Jesus cut?” “How do we share sacrifice?”

7. As believers, we turn to God with prayer and fasting, to ask for guidance as our nation makes decisions about our priorities as a people.

8. God continues to shower our nation and the world with blessings. As Christians, we are rooted in the love of God in Jesus Christ. Our task is to share these blessings with love and justice and with a special priority for those who are poor.

Budgets are moral documents, and how we reduce future deficits are historic and defining moral choices. As Christian leaders, we urge Congress and the administration to give moral priority to programs that protect the life and dignity of poor and vulnerable people in these difficult times, our broken economy, and our wounded world. It is the vocation and obligation of the church to speak and act on behalf of those Jesus called “the least of these.” This is our calling, and we will strive to be faithful in carrying out this mission.”—Circle of Protection

This summer, Bread for the World supporters and others are encouraged to visit or call their senators and representatives at their local offices to urge them to protect funding for programs for hungry people.  For further information about shared sacrifice or the “Circle of Protection” visit www.circleofprotection.us.

Source(s): www.bread.org/go/circle. www.circleofprotection.us. www.huffingtonpost.com/…/circle-of-protection-budget-cuts.  ww.christiannewswire.com/news/5693716844.html. http://www.uscatholic.org/…/christian-leaders-call-circle-protection. Sources: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture; U.S. Census Bureau; Feeding America (online); Rhoda Cohen,  J. Mabli, F., Potter,Z., Zhoa. Hunger in America 2010. Feeding America.  February 2010; Nord, Mark, M. Andrews, S. Carlson. United States Department of Agriculture/Economic Research Service, Household Food Security in the United States, 2008 and 2009; Cook, John. Feeding America. Child Food Insecurity in the United States: 2006-2008; www.share.org; ww.feedamerica.org; http://www.nokidhungry.org; and Food Research and Action Center.

Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art

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iBread for the World Action Alert.

iiRhoda Cohen,  J. Mabli, F., Potter,Z., Zhoa. Hunger in America 2010. Feeding America.
February 2010.

iiiNord, Mark, M. Andrews, S. Carlson. United States Department of

Agriculture/Economic Research Service, Household Food Security in the United States, 2008.

iv Cook, John. Feeding America. Child Food Insecurity in the United States:2006-2008.

vNord, Mark, M. Andrews, S. Carlson. United States Department of Agriculture/Economic Research Service, Household Food Security in the United States, 2009.

 

 

Shared Sacrifice?

This is the third in a series of posts written on the topic of the “Public Good” and “Shared
Sacrifice”. We, as a nation, cannot address our long-standing fiscal challenges by cutting necessary programs and services for the most vulnerable members of our state such as WIC, SNAP, Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid while corporations receive tax breaks. Instead of cutting necessary program and services, we must raise taxes on corporations and the wealthiest members of society. There must be shared sacrifice.

In response the series of House budget proposals cutting programs for the most vulnerable members of our society, voters have called out to their elected officials in Washington, DC for “shared sacrifice” when looking at the federal budget. Voters are telephoning, emailing, faxing their elected officials in Washington, DC to ask that Congress cut the multi-billion dollar subsides to oil companies. Like the hard-working citizen’s in the United States, many voters assert that corporations and wealthy Americans must pay their fair share of the tax burden.

Corporations and the affluent members in our society maintain an army of lobbyist in Washington promoting their best interest. Their voice on taxes has been heard by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner. On Friday evening, John Boehner, yet again, pulled out of negotiations for a compromise on a package that raises the debt ceiling and addresses the deficit. The New York Times reported that the Republican House speaker, John A. Boehner, said Friday that, “…he had broken off talks with President Obama on getting a budget deal to avert a government default. Mr. Boehner said that Mr. Obama wanted to raise taxes too high and won’t make fundamental changes to help programs such as Medicare.”

In response to the recent action taken by Speaker Boehner, progressive organizations have sent out action alerts to their members and supporters including but not limited to: the National, A National Catholics Social Justice Lobby, reminding them/us that like Congress this weekend we need to take action about the debt ceiling debate. In the National’s Action Alert, it reminds us/the reader that the default date is fast approaching and SOMEONE needs to get an agreement to raise the debt ceiling. It is imperative that this action is taken swiftly and citizen involvement is key to reaching an outcome that is in keeping with the “Public Good”.

As aptly stated in the action alert, it is imperative that persons concerned by the “Public
Good” let the President, House and Senate members know that any agreement reached
must include protections for low-income people. It is evident that, we, as a nation, cannot protect members of our communities who rely on programs such as Medicaid and nutrition assistance without increased revenues.    With that said, it is imperative that we tell Congress (that has sworn an oath to act in the “public good”) that this means that tax reform and protections for the poor must be included in any deal reached on the debt ceiling. The wealthiest among us who benefit most from our government must now be made to pay their fair share of the tax burden. Toward that goal, call the local offices of your members of Congress over the weekend.

If “shared sacrifice” is important to you, please call and/or write to your members of  Congress immediately. Tell them we cannot accept cuts to programs such as Medicare,
Medicaid, Social Security, nutrition assistance or affordable housing programs
(just to name a few) that would devastate people who are poor and vulnerable while affluent members and countless corporations in our nation will continue to get a free ride and not pay their fair share of taxes.

Get involved in the federal budget process—contact your elected officials in Washington, DC.  If you will be calling this weekend, you can find the phone numbers for your elected officials in Washington DC by going to www.networklobby.org.  If you are calling next week, you can call the Washington offices via the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121. If “shared sacrifice” is important to you then when speaking with your representatives you should indicate that she/he should Vote NO on any debt/deficit deal that does not protect low-income people and fails to raise revenues on the affluent and corporations.

Sources: The New York Times, Breaking News Alert, Friday, July 22, 2011 — 6:05 PM EDT. Action Alert: National, A National Catholics Social Justice Lobby.

Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art

Congressional Black Caucus `For the People’ Jobs Initiative Resolution: H. RES. 348

On July 13, 2011, US House of Representative Member, Emanuel Clever, III, Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) introduced the “Congressional Black Caucus `For the People’ Jobs Initiative Resolution: H. RES. 348 in the US House–in response to record unemployment and the fact that there has been little or no action on the House floor taken to address this pressing matter. His rationale basis for the resolution is as follows:

Over six months into the 112th Congress, no jobs creation legislation has been considered on the House floor despite the introduction of over forty bills by members of the CBC. It is clear that the unemployment numbers throughout the country require effective legislation and tangible action to address the crisis. The reported unemployment numbers in the African American community are hovering over sixteen percent.

The CBC is not standing idly by, but rather with the For the People Jobs Initiative, we are providing all of our constituents with what you need—aggressive action that remedies the stymied economy instead of protecting special interests and embarking on ideological crusades. To address the unemployment crisis and the need for job creation solutions in underserved communities, the CBC has called upon the private and public sectors to immediately remedy the crisis by going into communities with legitimate,
immediate employment opportunities for the underserved.”

Like most Americans, US Representative Clever asserts that, “It is time for action on the most important issue of our time—economic opportunity through jobs! Every American deserves the right to be gainfully employed or own a successful business.” Clever goes on to state that “…the Congressional Black Caucus is committed to that right and will not rest until there is parity in access to economic opportunity.”

The text of the resolution he introduced is below.

RESOLUTION

“Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that critical jobs legislation should
be considered and passed to address the growing jobs crisis throughout America,
and for other purposes.

Whereasthis resolution may be cited as the `Congressional Black Caucus `For the
People’ Jobs Initiative Resolution’;

Whereas over six months into the 112th Congress and no jobs creation legislation has
 been considered on the House floor despite the introduction of over 40 bills by
members of the Congressional Black Caucus (`CBC’);

Whereas the unemployment numbers throughout the country mandate legislative, tangible action to address the crisis;

Whereas the reported unemployment numbers in the African-American community are
hovering over sixteen percent and in the double digits in other communities of
color in these United States;

Whereas for 40 years the CBC has introduced legislation for the people and has served
as the unwavering `Conscience of the Congress’;

Whereas the CBC recently launched the `For the People’ Jobs Initiative to directly
address the lack of jobs for people of color by holding job fairs and town hall
meetings throughout the country in areas hardest hit by the recession; and

Whereas, to address the unemployment crisis and the need for job creation solutions in
underserved communities, the CBC has called upon the private and public sectors
to immediately remedy the crisis by going into communities with legitimate,
immediate employment opportunities for the underserved: Now, therefore be it

Resolved, That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that Congress should– (1) consider and pass critical jobs legislation to address the crisis facing communities of color disproportionately; and (2) consider and pass critical jobs legislation to address the nationwide economic crisis.”

This resolution was referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. For further information visit the websites listed below under sources.

Sources: http://www.govtrack.us. www.thomas.loc.gov. Facebook page Emanuel Clever, III, Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC).

Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art

Family and Medical Leave Inclusion Act (H.R. 2364, S. 1283)

For almost two decades, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) has afforded employment protected leave for workers to care for their new-born baby, sick family members, or to recover from their own serious illnesses. It has been reported
that since the enactment of FMLA millions of Americans have been able to take
up to twelve (12) weeks of unpaid leave from work. Some assert that FMLA has proven essential to achieving greater employee retention and reducing employee turnover.  The Family and Medical Leave Inclusion Act (H.R. 2364, S. 1283) would not change the terms of the FMLA, but rather expand its coverage to more family members.

H.R. 2364 amends the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 and title 5, United States Code, to permit leave to care for a domestic partner, parent-in-law, adult child, sibling, grandchild, or grandparent who has a serious health condition, and for other purposes. While protections afforded workers under FMLA have helped millions of families, they
do not show the many care-taking roles that workers may have, forcing many to  choose between employment and responsibility to care for an ill family member. Many assert that all of America’s workers should be afforded the opportunity to fulfill their critically important family and caregiver roles while continuing to contribute to our nation’s economy. This belief led US Congresswoman Maloney to introduce legislation in the House of Representatives and Senator Durbin to introduce a similar piece of legislation in the Senate.

If this is an important issue to you, let your elected officials know about your support of this legislation. Let your voice be heard in Washington, DC. Get involved.

Sources: www.govtrack.us.  www.opencongress.com. http://www.ifebp.org. Action Alert 9 to 5. www.lawheadlinesandnews.com/hd/index.php? =Family+Act+Leave.  consultarehr.com/tag/work-family-balance/. “Bill Would Extend FMLA Benefits and Protections to Additional Family Members”, Washington DC Employment Law Update, Ilyse Schuman,
July 1, 2011.

Photocredit: Microsoft Clip Art