by Lisa Duelfer
This article was a preview of more recent articles and of course, the actual budget itself, but it was the first notification I had of my advocacy program, the Corporation for National and Community Service, was being cut. There are many programs being cut, or their funding being reduced, and I invite everyone to discuss all of them, however I will be focusing on CNCS.
To better frame this, earlier that week, we had submitted our proposals for what we were going to push for, and I had written a modest commentary on better benefits for a term of community service (currently corps members are issued about $160 every two weeks as a living stipend) a more enticing scholarship program (currently just above $5,000) and better recognition (currently most employers do not know about the program, and graduates are not granted additional status to apply for federal jobs). Then on Saturday I see this article and all of the sudden I am going from “let’s improve this awesome program” to “hey! Leave my Americorps alone!”
CNCS, as I will go into during my presentation, is a bipartisan program that has been expanded by every previous president since it was proposed by G.H.W. Bush and passed by Clinton. It has also been on the chopping block numerous times, again due to its lack of prestige. Previous champions of the program include southern gulf representatives and senators who saw the benefits of the program first hand, helping rebuild after Katrina. Likewise we would look to the northeast now, beseeching those whose constituents were benefited by the service of Americorps members after Sandy.
There are over 1,000,000 Americorps alums that are rallying to alert their law makers of the relevance of National Service. There are many other programs whose budget is being reduced or cut that have other champions – Earth Day there will be a “march for science,” pushing back on the EPA and National Parks issues. Recently videos of Elmo being fired and Fred Rogers saving PBS from Reagan cuts have been circulating around Facebook. How is the state budget fighting back? Who is standing up for HUD?
When reaching out to a representative about the upcoming budget, is it better to stay on a single issue like a personal special interest group, or should you make multiple please for all of your issues? What are you opinions of the current proposals for the “hard power” budget that is proposed?
by Rich Tutak
When the President of the United States addresses an issue in a joint session of Congress, it is a problem that needs to be taken seriously. In 2015 over 33,000 Americans died from opioid overdoses, a number that unfortunately has been growing since 2000. This epidemic has impacted every type of community from the major cities to small rural towns across America. People who become addicted to opioids come from all walks of life and typically become addicted after being overly prescribed to prescription painkillers. This Economist article helps address this epidemic when first started in the early 1990s when the prescriptions drug dosage increased substantially. Once the habit becomes too hard to sustain from purchasing perceptions drugs people turn to the cheaper alternative of heroin. Within the article, there is a chart that shows the tremendous spike in heroin use from 2010 to today. Along with that states have begun to implement measures to help combat overprescribing with drug-monitoring programs, but more can still be done. If someone is overdosing, and a first responder administers a drug reversing the overdose there needs to be more done. To prevent the person from overdosing again, there need to be programs in place to help administer treatment to these patients in need of addiction treatment.
by Philip Erdman
Recently, the Trump Administration scrapped the Obama Administrative directive that ordered schools to let students who identify as transgender, use bathrooms and locker rooms per the gender they identify with. The result was an instant wave of public panic and outcry, which was to be expected.
Part of the reason for the public’s reaction was a failure to realize that the Obama Administrative directive was not the sole source of protection existing for students who identify as transgender. The directive merely instructed schools on how they were too treat a situation in which a student who identifies as transgender was using a bathroom or locker room of the opposite sex (biologically).
Protections exist for students who identify as transgender and have existed before the Obama Administrative directive was released. Some of the reasons that the directive was scrapped consist of; a rash of lawsuits nationwide speaking against the law, a possible overreach by the federal government, an appearance of blackmail (where federal funds can be withdrawn from schools who choose not to follow the directive), an apparent abuse of Title IX (by incorporating and extending the law to parties who may not have been intended to be included in the law or attaching it to circumstances that were not intended to be including: students who identify as transgender picking which bathroom or locker room they use).
The current administration believes that the individual states should decide how these policies unfold and that the federal government should not dictate (through the power of the purse) what action(s) a school should take in these unique circumstances. The previous administration believed that allowing a student who identifies as transgender to pick which bathroom or locker room they used was inherent in Title IX and therefore, they felt justified in instructing schools on how to handle the situation. Arguments can be made for both sides, but at the end of the day it is about the separation of powers, who as jurisdiction (and how far does their jurisdiction extend), and are the directives constitutional. Sometimes we forget in the midst of our emotions that, no matter how strongly we agree or disagree with something, the Constitution is the highest law of the land and there are people who have been tasked with implementing it through their various roles and tasks. The Supreme Court will end up hearing this case and they will either make a ruling or refer it back to a lower court.
By Daniel Garman
Without even reading the article it can be assumed that the answer to “Will Bob Casey Try to Block Trump’s Supreme Court Pick?”, is a yes. Bob Casey has an enormous track record for opposing President Trump. Furthermore, Casey isn’t alone and uses liberals and conservatives in many fights to increase numbers and effectiveness. However, Casey seems to be in a dilemma of political views. Not only has Casey been recently unavailable for interviews and questions, but the majority of the state he represents, Pennsylvania, nominated for President Trump. Now when looking at this frankly, the whole debate of the seat is to allow democrats a way of blocking President Trump. As stated in the article, “They are still seething over Trump’s victory…”. This being the case, Casey has a very big decision to make soon as he could potentially be the difference in Gorsuch being nominated or denied. Currently, in my opinion, it is unclear which way Casey will lean; however, the article suggests that he is leaning towards supporting the state he represents. What could be the potential consequences be of Casey’s decision to either support Pennsylvania and Gorsuch or his own democratic party?
by Darshan Jha
As both the Democrats and Republicans have voiced their opinions on the policies that have been proposed by the Trump Administration, one representative from Kentucky has challenged to abolish the Department of Education. Representative Thomas Massie’s bill isn’t lengthy, but in a single page, the representative proposes to abolish the agency by the end of 2018 on December 31st. This comes the day after the Vice President had to break the 50-50 tie to confirm Betty DeVous.
As President Reagan once tried to get rid of the agency, he was unsuccessful and many individuals believe that education policies should be left at the local and state level instead of the federal government. This isn’t the first agency that a Republican representative has tried to abolish. Representative Matt Gaetz from Florida is working on a bill that would get rid of the EPA, another agency that wasn’t flavored by President Reagan.
I believe that both of these agencies are needed, but there needs to be reform in education. I believe that we need to become a leader in education and help our youth not be in debt as they come out of college. Local and State government are having a hard time balancing their budgets due to the amount of money that is needed and therefore I think there should be a federal agency to overlook the education system. Another thing that is concerning is asking the State and Local governments to enforce Title IX, which is important for many schools in regards to sports, but also in other areas. I haven’t been able to find any articles to see if the current administration favors abolishing the Education Department, but as of now, the nomination of Secretary DeVos has been historic in many ways.