Wisconsin is the GOP model for ‘welfare reform.’ But as work requirements grow, so does one family’s desperation.

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The Trump administration is using Wisconsin as a model, but hopeful statistics belie the continuing struggles of low-income families trying to meet increasing standards for public assistance.

Image: Washington Post

The shock absorbers in James Howlett’s Ford Fusion were busted, but he and his partner, Nadine, packed their two children inside anyway. They were already homeless, and their time on food stamps was running out. They needed to fix the car and dig up documents to try to get back on welfare.

The suburban homeless shelter where they slept the night before was now in the distance as they made their way through the familiar blight of the city neighborhood that was once home. Howlett dropped Kayden, 5, at kindergarten and Cali, 3, at day care in a community center that stood amid the boarded-up houses and vacant fields surrounded by barbed wire that dot Milwaukee’s north side.

That’s when he found himself gripped by a new worry: His run-down Ford might be another barrier to government assistance.

More from The Washington Post

Posted by Libergirl

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CHIP on their shoulders? Dysfunctional Congress puts children’s health insurance funding at risk

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Republicans say they want to continue the Children’s Health Insurance Program that insures roughly 9 million low-to-moderate income children nationwide as well as 370,000 pregnant women.

Image: Tatiana Flowers, Associated Press

Democrats insist they also want to retain CHIP – which covers kids whose families earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but don’t have insurance through the Affordable Care Act or their employers.

But even renewal of this innocuous program has been bogged down by hyper-charged bickering in Congress over how to pay its $15 billion estimated yearly price tag.

While Congress quarreled, the CHIP program ran out of money in September and several states including Colorado began warning recipients the program will be discontinued unless Congress acts.

More from Cleveland.com

Posted by Libergirl

With Few Watching, Republicans Have Put in Place New Poll Tax to Disenfranchise Voters

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Preventing people from voting because they owe legal fees or court fines muzzle low-income Americans at a time in our nation’s history when the rich have more political power than ever.

More from Robert Reich at Common Dreams

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6 critical ways Trump slashing Obamacare subsidies could impact you

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President Trump’s promised rollback of Obamacare has officially begun. But what does it all mean? And will it affect you?

The federal government will cut billions of dollars in health-care subsidies to low-income households that were introduced under Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, the White House announced last week.

These $7 billion in “cost-sharing subsidies” are the payments the government makes to health insurance companies to offset the discounts on co-payments that low-income consumers have received under Obamacare. The subsidies repay health insurers for the higher cost of the “silver plan” through HealthCare.gov — the individual insurance marketplace operated by the federal government and set up under Barack Obama.

The cuts in subsidies may actually hit the middle class the most

Insurers already put insurance premiums up 20% this year in anticipation of the President’s decision to end these subsidies. However, in several states, including Indiana, insurance companies spread their rate increases, so middle-class people on individual plans will likely see a double-digit increase in their premiums next year.

“People who don’t qualify for premium subsidies for cost-sharing reductions, but are also in the individual market because they don’t have employer-sponsored coverage — early retirees who aren’t yet eligible for Medicare or higher-earning freelancers — will be negatively affected by higher premium costs,” Susan Nash, partner at Winston & Strawn LLP in Chicago, Ill.

More from CBS Marketwatch

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Court fines and fees: Another barrier to North Carolina’s ballot box

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How much money do you have to pay before you cast your ballot on Election Day?

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Image: myfloridalaw.com

For most North Carolinians, the answer might seem obvious: none. As the cornerstone of our democracy, voting is supposed to be fair, accessible – and free. But for an increasing number of North Carolinians, the right to vote can cost anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars.

How is that possible? The answer is because North Carolina denies the right to vote to people who have felony convictions but cannot afford to pay their court costs, even if they have satisfied all other probation requirements.

Thanks to an ever-growing system of mandatory fines and fees, those caught up in the criminal justice system can be forced to pay anywhere from $40 to hundreds of dollars a month for the cost of their court administration, jail fees, probation, electronic monitoring, drug testing, even community service – and more. If they are unable to pay, they face a penalty fee for nonpayment, increasing their fees and lengthening their probation period.

These costs have increased substantially over time. In 1999, the base cost a person would pay for a superior court date was $106. Today the base cost is $198 with the potential to grow to more than $10,000 in serious cases as additional penalties snowball. Even if they have served all the terms of their sentence, even if they have had no probation violations, low-income people often remain on probation simply because they are low-income. And in far too many North Carolina courts, judges will not conduct hearings on a person’s inability to pay, as is required by law.

More from NC Policy Watch

Posted by Libergirl

State funding church: 93 percent of ‘scholarship program’ vouchers go to religious schools

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Image: Shutterstock

In this year alone the state of North Carolina has spent $12 million on what they refer to as Opportunity Scholarships, which exist to help lower income families move their children from public to private schools. Of that $12 million, approximately $11 million has gone to faith-based schools and only $800,000 to secular schools.

More from the Raw Story

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Requiring an ID to Eat?! The Right-Wing’s Next Crazy Plot Against Low-Income Americans

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Image: bradblog.com

Food stamp recipients will have their grocery store humiliation compounded by having to show a photo ID in order to buy food if Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) gets his way.

Under a bill Vitter introduced Wednesday , beneficiaries of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) would be denied their food if they are unable to show a photographic identification card at the register. For millions of low-income Americans who don’t have an official photo ID and can’t necessarily afford to buy one, Vitter’s bill would mean being cut off from their primary food source.

Estimates of how many people are without the kind of ID Vitter wants to require are a bit fuzzy, as researchers have tended to focus on the issue in the context of voting rights, but multiple surveys have found that around 10 percent of the voting public doesn’t have a state-issued ID. One survey of voting-age citizens in 2006 put the ID-less proportion of the population at 11 percent, meaning that more than 21 million people nationwide likely lack photo ID, and found that one in four African-Americans surveyed had no ID.

More from Alternet

Posted by The NON-Conformist

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