Many of us make New Year’s resolutions for ourselves, to-do lists for the coming year: eat better, resume the exercise program that imploded six months ago, get our finances in order.
This year we’d like to make the same resolution for our members of Congress. Sort out the issues on the national to-do list that we sent you to Washington to address. Here are our top choices.
Time is running out for Dreamers, 800,000 young people aged 15-32 brought to this country because of their parents’ decisions, not their own. They deserve a “clean” DACA bill now, one that provides for their future, not muddied by wrangling over the Wall and larger immigration issues that could last for months or years. It’s the right thing to do. A recent CBS News poll found that 70 percent of Americans want them to stay. We agree we can’t send them home: this is their home.
A DACA bill also benefits us. Ninety percent of them over 16 are employed, and they pay $3 billion annually in taxes, adding $20 billion each year to our economy. The Cato Institute estimates that removing the 30,000 or so DACA-eligible residents of North Carolina would cost us $20 billion over the next decade. We need them to help replace our aging workforce.
Last year was the deadliest hurricane season since 2005, when Katrina hit the Gulf. In fact, it’s the first time three Category 4 storms have made landfall in the U.S.: Harvey in Texas, Irma in Florida, and Maria in Puerto Rico—the home of 3.4 million American citizens. Irma was the most powerful Atlantic hurricane ever recorded, and Accuweather estimates damage to Florida’s economy at $100 billion. According to HUD, the long-term rebuilding cost in Texas will be $95 billion, while Texas itself puts it at $121 billion. Maria was the worst natural disaster
in Puerto Rico’s history, and four months after the storm, a quarter of the population lacks power, a crisis still leading to the deaths of elderly, young, and sick citizens. Nonetheless, FEMA has just announced it is stopping aid since it’s “no longer needed.” Arcane rules make releasing assistance to the island even more complicated than to Texas and Florida.
Congress must not continue holding hurricane victims hostage to the budget bargaining process.
Congress has passed a stopgap budget to end the federal shutdown and fund the government for three weeks.
That’s a start, but it’s not enough. We need a 2018 budget immune from political infighting. Think about what the budget funds. Paychecks for federal employees, including military personnel. National defense. Social Security checks for 60 million Americans and healthcare for millions through Medicare and Medicaid. Interest on the national debt. Safety net programs that fund SNAP (assistance for food-insecure people, half of them elderly or children); services for the disabled; housing, energy, and childcare assistance for those with lower incomes; and school meals. In all, these programs kept about 36 million Americans out of poverty in 2016.
We applaud our members of Congress for solving the impasse over the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). We know they can find bipartisan solutions for the other serious problems besetting the nation.
How do these issues or others affect you and your family? What would you like us to explore in coming editorials? Contact us at [email protected]
This article was written by members of the Scotland County Democratic Women. They are Jan Schmidt, Bonnie Kelley, Nancy Barrineau and Mary Evans.