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Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)

Mission: CLASP seeks to improve the lives of low-income people. We develop and advocate for federal, state and local policies to strengthen families and create pathways to education and work.

Take Action with Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)

Campaign Priority Bills and Proposals POPVOX Sentiment Take Action
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CLASP believes that a true path to prosperity should focus ...

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Join Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) in endorsing The Better Off Budget

64% 36%

14 total users

Support
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CLASP believes that a true path to prosperity should focus ...

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Join Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) in endorsing The Democratic Budget for FY 2015

14% 86%

7 total users

Support
H.Con.Res. 96
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CLASP strongly opposes H. Con. Res. 96, the Ryan Budget ...

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Join Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) in opposing H.Con.Res. 96

64% 36%

556 total users

Oppose
S. 1737
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(Letter provided to POPVOX by Congressional office)

March 31, 2014 ...

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Join Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) in endorsing S. 1737

19% 81%

575 total users

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H.R. 1406
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May 6, 2013

Dear Member of Congress:

We, the undersigned ...

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Join Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) in opposing H.R. 1406

29% 71%

285 total users

Oppose
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March 13, 2013

Dear Representative:

On behalf of the Center ...

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Join Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) in opposing The Ryan Budget for FY 2014

73% 27%

184 total users

Oppose
H.R. 803
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March 4, 2013

Dear Chairman Kline and Representative Miller:

In ...

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Join Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) in opposing H.R. 803

74% 26%

202 total users

Oppose
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Dear Members of Congress:

The undersigned organizations represent millions of ...

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Join Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) in opposing Sequestration

72% 28%

1631 total users

Oppose
H.R. 890
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There is a broad consensus that parents should, to the ...

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Join Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) in opposing H.R. 890

96% 4%

3340 total users

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3/7/13 - We urge you to create a humane ...

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Join Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) in weighing in on Immigration Reform Principles

23% 77%

1246 total users

Neutral
H.R. 645
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January 31, 2013

Dear Representative:

On behalf of The Leadership ...

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Join Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) in endorsing H.R. 645

75% 25%

104 total users

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Detailed Legislative Agenda

The Better Off Budget

CLASP believes that a true path to prosperity should focus on jobs, economic growth, and promoting opportunity – not on putting extra barriers in the way of people who are seeking to move up on the job, finish their education, and achieve economic security. In broad brushstrokes, we recommend a budget that: doubles down on support for education, from early childhood through the post-secondary years; strengthens Pell grants to help low-income and non-traditional students afford postsecondary education; recognizes that for many Americans, the blockage in the path to prosperity is not a lack of desire to work – but the work itself; and acknowledges the role that affordable health care can play in helping people follow their dreams on a “path to prosperity.”

The Better off Budget for FY 2015 is consistent with these principles, and therefore we recommend members of Congress vote for it.

Direct link to this position: https://www.popvox.com/orgs/clasp#clasp-x-239-support
The Democratic Budget for FY 2015

CLASP believes that a true path to prosperity should focus on jobs, economic growth, and promoting opportunity – not on putting extra barriers in the way of people who are seeking to move up on the job, finish their education, and achieve economic security. In broad brushstrokes, we recommend a budget that: doubles down on support for education, from early childhood through the post-secondary years; strengthens Pell grants to help low-income and non-traditional students afford postsecondary education; recognizes that for many Americans, the blockage in the path to prosperity is not a lack of desire to work – but the work itself; and acknowledges the role that affordable health care can play in helping people follow their dreams on a “path to prosperity.”

The House Democratic Budget for FY 2015 is consistent with these principles, and therefore we recommend members of Congress vote for it.

Direct link to this position: https://www.popvox.com/orgs/clasp#clasp-x-240-support
H.Con.Res. 96: The Path to Prosperity Budget for FY15

CLASP strongly opposes H. Con. Res. 96, the Ryan Budget, which recycles many of the same damaging cuts proposed in years past. What’s most troubling is that the cuts go even deeper -- and that, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, at least 69 percent of those cuts would be programs intended for people who struggle to make ends meet. The Ryan proposal doubles down in its vision for future spending cuts beyond FY 15 by proposing domestic discretionary levels below the draconian amounts imposed on spending by the sequester. This implies sharp cuts to a vast range of government programs – child care, job training, roads, medical research, food safety, among others. If any one of these programs gets spared a cut, then the others would get slashed even further. And, despite the rhetoric about prosperity, the proposal achieves budget savings at the expense of low-income citizens. While the budget does not include specific allocations for most programs, Ryan’s Path to Prosperity outlines cuts and policy proposals that would make several crucial programs less effective and harm the people they serve.

A true path to prosperity should focus on jobs, economic growth, and promoting opportunity – not on putting extra barriers in the way of people who are seeking to move up on the job, finish their education, and achieve economic security. In broad brushstrokes, we recommend a budget that: doubles down on support for education, from early childhood through the post-secondary years; strengthens Pell grants to help low-income and non-traditional students afford postsecondary education; recognizes that for many Americans, the blockage in the path to prosperity is not a lack of desire to work – but the work itself; and drops the tired suggestion to repeal the Affordable Care Act and acknowledge the role that decent health care can play in helping people follow their dreams on a “path to prosperity.”

Direct link to this position: https://www.popvox.com/orgs/clasp#clasp-hconres-96-oppose
S. 1737: The Minimum Wage Fairness Act

(Letter provided to POPVOX by Congressional office)

March 31, 2014

Dear Senator:

On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the 237 undersigned organizations, we urge you to vote for the Minimum Wage Fairness Act, introduced by Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa). The bill is a common sense reform that is a key part of the nation’s economic recovery and is needed more than ever to address the shift toward low-wage jobs for working families.

The Minimum Wage Fairness Act takes necessary steps to help working families make ends meet, sustain consumer spending, and spur economic recovery. The bill would raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 by 2016, in three increments of 95 cents each. Further, the bill would adjust the minimum wage each year to keep pace with the rising cost of living. Finally, the bill would also raise the minimum wage for tipped workers, which has been frozen at a meager $2.13 per hour for more than 20 years. These changes will make a significant difference in the lives of millions of low-wage workers and their families and help grow our economy.

A raise in the minimum wage is desperately needed because pay for America’s workers remains stagnant, while the cost of living continues to rise. In 2007, Congress raised the federal minimum wage by $2.10 per hour to $7.25 as a first step toward achieving its purpose as an anti-poverty measure. Had the federal minimum wage kept pace with the cost of living over the past 40 years, it would be $10.71 per hour today. Instead, the current hourly rate of $7.25 translates to an annual income of just $15,080 per year for full-time work, which is below the poverty line for a family of three.


Raising the minimum wage would generate economic activity. Minimum wage increases stimulate the economy by increasing consumer spending, without adding to stale and federal budget deficits. Raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour would generate $22 billion m new economic activity in communities across the country. Despite fears about the adverse effect of a minimum wage increase on businesses, studies demonstrate that when the minimum wage has been increased, there has been no significant reduction in employment or slowing of job growth, even when the economy was struggling. Strengthening the minimum wage can help build a sustainable economic recovery without increasing
costs for taxpayers.


Raising the minimum wage does not cause job loss. The best economic research and real world experiences with minimum wage increases confirm dial raising the minimum wage does not cause job loss. According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, which reviewed the past two decades of research on the impact of minimum wage increases on employment, “the weight of the evidence points to little or no effect of minimum wage increases on job growth.” A recent Congressional Budget Report contradicts the overwhelming evidence that demonstrates that raising the federal minimum wage will actually improve our economy and create jobs. The experience of businesses and scholarly studies show
that what companies lose when they pay more is often offset by lower turnover and increased productivity.


Raising the minimum wage has public support. Raising the minimum wage has received broad support. Overall, 73 percent of the public favors raising the federal minimum wage from its current level of $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour. Further, states around the country are enacting minimum wage hikes.
Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia have raised their minimum wages higher than the current federal rate of $7.25 per hour and legislation to raise and/or index the minimum wage has been introduced in several states. Thee American economy needs a strong national wage floor to protect workers in all regions of the country.


Raising the minimum wage is a civil rights imperative. Providing America's lowest paid workers with a raise is a critical civil and human rights issue given the impact it would have on women, African Americans, Latinos, and other minority populations, including the Native American, AAPI, LGBT and
disability communities, whose poverty rates are also disproportionately high. Women and communities of color are disproportionately represented among the 30 million Americans who will benefit from a higher minimum wage. According to the Economic Policy Institute:


•Women comprise 49 percent of U.S. workers, yet make up 56 percent of workers who would be affected by a potential minimum-wage increase.


•African Americans make up only 11 percent of the workforce, but are 14 percent of those that would benefit from a higher minimum wage.


•Hispanics represent only 15 percent of the workforce, yet comprise 25 percent of those that would benefit from a higher minimum wage.

Setting the minimum wage at an appropriate level can promote economic growth while strengthening the ability of low- and middle-wage workers to have quality jobs. We urge you to vote for the Minimum Wage Fairness Act, which will help provide America's lowest paid workers with an urgently needed raise while boosting the consumer spending that fuels the economy.

Direct link to this position: https://www.popvox.com/orgs/clasp#clasp-s-1737-support
H.R. 1406: Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013

May 6, 2013

Dear Member of Congress:

We, the undersigned organizations, urge you to oppose the so-called Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013 (H.R. 1406), a smoke-and-mirrors bill that offers a pay cut for workers without any guaranteed flexibility or time off to care for their families or themselves. As members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have acknowledged, people today are struggling to meet the demands of job and family, as well as to make ends meet. Americans urgently need lawmakers to take the next step on the road to a family friendly nation. But H.R. 1406 is not what the nation needs. It is, at best, an empty promise and it would cause considerably more harm than good.

The Working Families Flexibility Act offers a false choice between time and pay. The bill’s supporters claim H.R. 1406 would give hourly workers more flexibility and time with their loved ones by allowing them to choose paid time off, rather than time-and-a-half wages, as compensation for working more than 40 hours in one week (“comp time”). But the irony is that workers will only get more time with their families after they’ve spent long hours away at work. And there is nothing in H.R. 1406 that guarantees that workers will be able to use the comp time they have earned when they need it.

The worker flexibility offered by H.R. 1406 is nothing more than a mirage. That’s because this proposal gives the employer, not the employee, the “flexibility” to decide when and even if comp time can be used. The bill permits the employer to deny the request entirely if the employee’s use of comp time would “unduly disrupt” operations or to grant leave on a day other than the day requested by the employee. This means that H.R. 1406 provides no guarantee that workers can use their earned time when a child falls ill, to attend a parent- teacher conference, or to help an aging parent settle in to a nursing home. Employers can veto an employee’s request to use comp time even in cases of urgent need.

H.R. 1406 would put workers at very real risk and provides an interest-free loan to employers. An employee who does not accept comp time could be penalized with fewer

hours, bad shifts and loss of overtime hours. And because it is cheaper to provide comp time than to pay overtime wages, there is a significant incentive for employers to hire fewer people and rely on overtime hours – paid for in future comp time – to get work done. It would permit employers to defer compensation for unused comp time for as long as 13 months, creating an interest-free loan for employers and hardships for workers.

H.R. 1406 provides few protections for workers and no additional resources to the U.S. Department of Labor for education, investigations and enforcement. While this bill adds

significant new provisions to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), it provides no additional funds for the education and enforcement efforts the new provisions will require. Workers would have few remedies in cases of employer misconduct or bankruptcy. The problem of wage theft (the non-payment or underpayment of wages for hours worked) would be exacerbated by making it easier for employers to avoid overtime compensation obligations.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) currently allows employers to provide workers with flexibility and time off without compromising their right to be paid fairly for the hours they work. The types of flexibility allowable under the FLSA include alternative start and end times, compressed or variable work hours within a week, split shifts, work at multiple locations and paid or unpaid time off. The proponents of H.R. 1406 set up a false dichotomy that would force workers to choose between flexibility and overtime pay when, in reality, the FLSA does nothing to prevent employers from offering both.

Instead of wasting time on smoke and mirrors, Congress should focus on policy solutions that have been proven to work. We urge Congress to adopt policies that will provide families with the economic security and the time that they need:

 The Healthy Families Act (H.R. 1286/S. 631), which makes earned paid sick days available to millions of workers;

 Paid family and medical leave insurance modeled on successful state programs in California and New Jersey;

 Expanded access to the FMLA for more workers for more reasons, and so parents could, in fact, have the time they need to attend parent-teacher conferences without risking their jobs;

 The Fair Minimum Wage Act (H.R. 1010/S. 460) which brings the minimum wage back to a reasonable level and, in so doing, provides businesses with customers, improves our economy, and help locals communities thrive;

 The Paycheck Fairness Act (H.R. 377/S. 84), which helps close the gender-based wage gap; and

 Measures to encourage fairer and more predictable work hours and prohibit mandatory overtime.

Workers simply should not have to put in extra time beyond a 40-hour week and forgo pay to earn time to care for themselves or their loved ones. We urge Congress to reject H.R. 1406 and instead adopt family friendly policies that provide true flexibility for working families, not an empty promise that would make life appreciably harder for families that are already struggling.

(Letter provided to POPVOX by Congressional office.)

http://www.national...NAL.pdf?docID=12541

Direct link to this position: https://www.popvox.com/orgs/clasp#clasp-hr-1406-oppose
H.Con.Res. 25: The Ryan Budget for FY 2014

March 13, 2013

Dear Representative:

On behalf of the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), I write to express our strong opposition to the Fiscal Year 2014 budget resolution offered by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). We urge you to reject this proposal and instead pass a resolution that does not threaten our still fragile recovery and slash services for the most vulnerable populations, but instead reduces deficits through balanced spending cuts and additional revenue.

The Ryan budget once again envisions a fundamentally flawed ‘path to prosperity' that would impose deep cuts on critical programs including Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, and Pell grants. These cuts would put the core elements of the American dream–access to education and training to get a good job, health care when you are sick, and economic security in retirement–out of reach for millions of families.

The budget would also lead to drastic cuts in domestic discretionary spending, slashing or eliminating many services that are needed by low-income families, young children, students, older people, individuals with disabilities, the unemployed, and the uninsured. These cuts go beyond those currently in effect under the sequester provisions of the Budget Control Act of 2011, in part because the Ryan budget would effectively cancel the defense half of the sequester cuts, reneging on the deficit reduction deal agreed to in 2011 and forcing the outright elimination of many important government functions.

At the same time that it proposes huge spending cuts that will harm low-income and middle-class Americans, the Ryan budget would give massive tax cuts to those that need them the least – without providing any meaningful explanation of how to make them deficit-neutral. The Bipartisan Policy Center concludes that “in order to remain revenue-neutral, nearly every tax expenditure would have to be eliminated.”

We are particularly troubled by the following aspects of the Ryan budget proposal:

• Health Care: As with the FY2013 budget resolution, the Ryan budget would repeal the coverage expansions in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and cut (through “block grants”) Medicaid and other health programs by another $756 billion. These two steps would cut more than $2.5 trillion and drastically increase the number of uninsured Americans. The Urban Institute estimated that last year’s similar Medicaid proposal would cause 14 to 21 million people to lose Medicaid coverage by 2022. Combined with the 27 million Americans who the CBO estimates would gain coverage under the ACA by 2023, but who would lose it under the Ryan budget, 40 to 50 million Americans would lose coverage under this budget resolution. Arbitrary caps on Medicaid spending will result in cost-shifts to individuals and states, or denial of coverage, not reductions in actual health care costs.

• SNAP: The Ryan budget would cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP; formerly known as the Food Stamp Program) over the next ten years by converting the program into block grants at lower levels. This will likely lead to states slashing benefits or denying assistance to low-income families, resulting in hunger and hardship. Moreover, it would destroy SNAP’s key role in providing counter-cyclical relief during periods of recession. As the overwhelming majority of SNAP recipients are either already employed or are not expected to be working (due to age or disability), it is absurd to think that improved employment services could reduce the need for SNAP benefits enough to compensate for these cuts.

• Pell Grants: The Ryan budget eliminates the mandatory funding portion of the Pell Grant program, which would significantly drive up the discretionary costs of the program and threaten adequate funding in the future to aid all needy students. It also makes significant eligibility changes to the formula for calculating student financial aid; these changes reduce eligibility for all student aid – including Pell Grants, student loans, and other aid – especially for working adult students. These students can least afford these cuts at a time when college costs have increased nearly four times faster than median family income over the last three decades. In addition the Ryan budget would freeze the maximum Pell Grant for ten years, preventing the program from even keeping up with inflation. As a result, Pell Grants would lose substantial purchasing power, likely denying college access to millions of students.

• Other Vital Services and Programs: While the Ryan budget seeks to avoid specifics, it would lead to massive and disproportionate cuts to countless services and programs that are vital to the communities that we represent. While the sequester cuts to the defense budget would be undone, domestic discretionary spending would be subject to cuts far deeper than under the sequester — lower than at any point in the modern time. The budget also calls for unspecified cuts to other mandatory programs. Among the safety net programs that would be severely jeopardized are the Supplemental Security Income program (SSI), school lunches and other child nutrition programs, the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit, the Child Care and Development Block Grant, Head Start, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have said over the past three years that deficit reduction should not come at the expense of vulnerable families and individuals. This budget proposal pays lip service to the idea of protecting the safety net and vulnerable families but then proposes that the poor, the disabled, and the elderly should carry the greatest burden for deficit reduction, while protecting millionaires and defense contractors. I urge you to reject this misaligned vision of the nation's future and move forward with a realistic and shared pathway to prosperity that includes the most vulnerable among us.

(This bill passed October 16, 2013.)
Direct link to this position: https://www.popvox.com/orgs/clasp#clasp-hconres-25-oppose
The Ryan Budget for FY 2014

March 13, 2013

Dear Representative:

On behalf of the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), I write to express our strong opposition to the Fiscal Year 2014 budget resolution offered by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). We urge you to reject this proposal and instead pass a resolution that does not threaten our still fragile recovery and slash services for the most vulnerable populations, but instead reduces deficits through balanced spending cuts and additional revenue.

The Ryan budget once again envisions a fundamentally flawed ‘path to prosperity' that would impose deep cuts on critical programs including Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, and Pell grants. These cuts would put the core elements of the American dream–access to education and training to get a good job, health care when you are sick, and economic security in retirement–out of reach for millions of families.

The budget would also lead to drastic cuts in domestic discretionary spending, slashing or eliminating many services that are needed by low-income families, young children, students, older people, individuals with disabilities, the unemployed, and the uninsured. These cuts go beyond those currently in effect under the sequester provisions of the Budget Control Act of 2011, in part because the Ryan budget would effectively cancel the defense half of the sequester cuts, reneging on the deficit reduction deal agreed to in 2011 and forcing the outright elimination of many important government functions.

At the same time that it proposes huge spending cuts that will harm low-income and middle-class Americans, the Ryan budget would give massive tax cuts to those that need them the least – without providing any meaningful explanation of how to make them deficit-neutral. The Bipartisan Policy Center concludes that “in order to remain revenue-neutral, nearly every tax expenditure would have to be eliminated.”

We are particularly troubled by the following aspects of the Ryan budget proposal:

• Health Care: As with the FY2013 budget resolution, the Ryan budget would repeal the coverage expansions in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and cut (through “block grants”) Medicaid and other health programs by another $756 billion. These two steps would cut more than $2.5 trillion and drastically increase the number of uninsured Americans. The Urban Institute estimated that last year’s similar Medicaid proposal would cause 14 to 21 million people to lose Medicaid coverage by 2022. Combined with the 27 million Americans who the CBO estimates would gain coverage under the ACA by 2023, but who would lose it under the Ryan budget, 40 to 50 million Americans would lose coverage under this budget resolution. Arbitrary caps on Medicaid spending will result in cost-shifts to individuals and states, or denial of coverage, not reductions in actual health care costs.

• SNAP: The Ryan budget would cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP; formerly known as the Food Stamp Program) over the next ten years by converting the program into block grants at lower levels. This will likely lead to states slashing benefits or denying assistance to low-income families, resulting in hunger and hardship. Moreover, it would destroy SNAP’s key role in providing counter-cyclical relief during periods of recession. As the overwhelming majority of SNAP recipients are either already employed or are not expected to be working (due to age or disability), it is absurd to think that improved employment services could reduce the need for SNAP benefits enough to compensate for these cuts.

• Pell Grants: The Ryan budget eliminates the mandatory funding portion of the Pell Grant program, which would significantly drive up the discretionary costs of the program and threaten adequate funding in the future to aid all needy students. It also makes significant eligibility changes to the formula for calculating student financial aid; these changes reduce eligibility for all student aid – including Pell Grants, student loans, and other aid – especially for working adult students. These students can least afford these cuts at a time when college costs have increased nearly four times faster than median family income over the last three decades. In addition the Ryan budget would freeze the maximum Pell Grant for ten years, preventing the program from even keeping up with inflation. As a result, Pell Grants would lose substantial purchasing power, likely denying college access to millions of students.

• Other Vital Services and Programs: While the Ryan budget seeks to avoid specifics, it would lead to massive and disproportionate cuts to countless services and programs that are vital to the communities that we represent. While the sequester cuts to the defense budget would be undone, domestic discretionary spending would be subject to cuts far deeper than under the sequester — lower than at any point in the modern time. The budget also calls for unspecified cuts to other mandatory programs. Among the safety net programs that would be severely jeopardized are the Supplemental Security Income program (SSI), school lunches and other child nutrition programs, the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit, the Child Care and Development Block Grant, Head Start, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have said over the past three years that deficit reduction should not come at the expense of vulnerable families and individuals. This budget proposal pays lip service to the idea of protecting the safety net and vulnerable families but then proposes that the poor, the disabled, and the elderly should carry the greatest burden for deficit reduction, while protecting millionaires and defense contractors. I urge you to reject this misaligned vision of the nation's future and move forward with a realistic and shared pathway to prosperity that includes the most vulnerable among us.

Sincerely,

Alan W. Houseman

Executive Director

Direct link to this position: https://www.popvox.com/orgs/clasp#clasp-x-110-oppose
H.Con.Res. 112 (112th): The Ryan Budget for FY 2013 (Path to Prosperity)

MARCH 20, 2012 - Following is a statement by Alan W. Houseman, executive director of CLASP, The Center for Law and Social Policy, regarding the House FY 2013 Budget Resolution released today by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan.

"House Republicans today released a budget that once again is strong on rhetoric but weak on reasonable ideas regarding how to restore prosperity to the economy, not to mention strengthen the nation's families and provide pathways to education, work, and economic security. The budget harkens back to the failed theory of trickle-down economics by providing tax cuts to those at the top, preserving special treatment for capital gains, cutting deductions for most workers and offering a vague hope that the benefits will eventually trickle down to ordinary Americans.

"The so-called Path to Prosperity explicitly notes its goal to reduce the size of the federal government and envisions a fundamentally flawed ‘path to prosperity' that slashes critical programs including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, and Pell grants. These cuts would put the core elements of the American dream–access to education and training to get a good job, health care when you are sick, and economic security in retirement–out of reach for millions of families.

"The economy is still recovering. While unemployment has steadily declined in recent months, it remains historically high. Many families are getting back on their feet but others are still struggling. Demonizing government and vital safety net programs that help ordinary families without offering a realistic path forward is counterproductive.

"Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have said over the past three years that deficit reduction should not come at the expense of vulnerable families and individuals. This budget proposal pays lip service to the idea of protecting the safety net and vulnerable families but then proposes that the poor, the disabled, and the elderly should carry the greatest burden for deficit reduction, while protecting millionaires and defense contractors. Congress and the American people should reject this doublespeak and misaligned vision of the nation's future and move forward with a realistic and shared pathway to prosperity that includes the most vulnerable among us."

http://www.clasp.or...ws_releases?id=0062

(This bill failed to be passed during the two-year Congress in which it was introduced.)
Direct link to this position: https://www.popvox.com/orgs/clasp#clasp-hconres-112-oppose
H.R. 803: SKILLS Act

March 4, 2013

Dear Chairman Kline and Representative Miller:

In advance of the legislative mark-up session for the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), we write to express our opposition to H.R. 803 (The Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong Skills Act), which was recently introduced by Rep. Foxx. In applying the criteria we laid out in A Litmus for Legislation, we conclude that this bill, if adopted in its current form, is expected to shift funding and services away from youth and adults who are most in need of workforce services and to weaken the capacity to serve them effectively.

The bill is similar in structure and purpose to H.R. 4297, which was reported by the House Education and Workforce Committee in 2012. We are extremely concerned about the elimination of a separate youth funding stream, which is being proposed at a time when many young people face the most difficult labor market in a generation or more. By eliminating the 10 youth program elements authorized in WIA, the bill would diminish the capacity to serve youth, which differs from the service capacity typically available to adult participants in one-stop centers. The bill also does not include youth-specific performance measures designed to take into account differences in age and the developmental focus of youth workforce services.

Another concern is the lack of strong safeguards to ensure that vulnerable populations receive services and that appropriate services reach those most in need. In fact, the bill eliminates existing safeguards in WIA—the priority of service for low-income adults and the requirement to spend a minimum of 30 percent of local funds on out-of-school youth. Nothing in the new planning requirements or strengthened accountability system is likely to prevent funding and services to shift from vulnerable populations to more job-ready individuals with fewer barriers.

In our view, reducing the number of workforce programs will neither generate significant administrative efficiencies nor increase the effectiveness of services. As the GAO report on multiple employment and training programs shows, most federal funding flows to several large programs that already have considerable flexibility as a result of waivers and past streamlining. There is only limited evidence to suggest that reducing the number of programs will produce administrative savings. Such changes may undermine the effectiveness of the workforce system by reducing the resources and capacity of providers to customize services for an increasingly diverse workforce.

We think WIA should be reauthorized to bring to bear the strengths of different programs and to provide multiple pathways to employment and education for adults and youth who are most in need of workforce services. To increase program alignment, CLASP has recommended adoption of shared performance metrics, with appropriate adjustment models, use of consistent reporting requirements and greater efforts to minimize the burden associated with eligibility determination and verification across various programs.

As the legislative process moves forward, we stand ready to work with you to reauthorize WIA in a way that will increase alignment, build service capacity and improve access to funding and services for low-income adults and youth.

http://democrats.ed...LSConcern-CLASP.pdf

Direct link to this position: https://www.popvox.com/orgs/clasp#clasp-hr-803-oppose
Sequestration

Dear Members of Congress:

The undersigned organizations represent millions of Americans with a tremendous stake in the outcome of the ongoing budget process. As Congress debates the debt ceiling, automatic spending cuts and spending in 2013 and going forward, our organizations urge you to ensure adequate funding to preserve the basic functions of government and real security for all our people.

There are two paths toward accomplishing this goal and both must be followed. First, additional new revenues must be enacted. President Obama has identified at least $600 billion in new revenues if the wealthiest Americans are required to pay their fair share. We can raise more than $600 billion by closing tax loopholes for corporations, for the wealthiest 2 percent and for companies that outsource jobs overseas.

Second and just as important: we must rein in wasteful Pentagon spending. We believe Pentagon spending should be cut by a minimum of $500 billion to $550 billion over 10 years – similar to the automatic cuts to the Pentagon that go into effect beginning in March if Congress does not act (the “sequester”). We note that many military experts say cuts could be as high as $1 trillion to $1.5 trillion over the next decade without compromising national security.

Pentagon spending, which comprises more than half of the current discretionary budget, continues to absorb the lion’s share of the money Congress appropriates. Without more cuts to Pentagon spending, even very deep cuts to all other discretionary funding taken together will fall far short of alleviating deficit spending and the rising debt.

We view reining in wasteful Pentagon spending as a mandate. We must stop paying for the things we don’t need so that we can afford to pay for the things we do need. This includes Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, and the Affordable Care Act. And it includes discretionary domestic programs such as Head Start, nutrition aid, job training, education and cancer screening, just to name a few.

As a community of advocates, we are committed to creating good jobs here in America, providing our families with security and building a brighter future for our children. If we invest some of the billions we spend on the Pentagon in other sectors of our economy, we would actually generate MORE jobs, strengthening the middle class and protecting essential services that help our families. Economists at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst found that public dollars invested in clean energy, health care, and education all create significantly more jobs within the U.S. economy than investing an equivalent amount in the military.** As we struggle with high unemployment rates across the nation, this is a critical point to consider.

We want a safe and secure nation. The safety of our residents is of utmost importance. Proposals to rein in wasteful Pentagon spending should not threaten that priority. But the Pentagon budget should not be immune from oversight and fiscal responsibility. Like any other department, the Pentagon must be held accountable for its spending and be able to prove that its programs are a responsible and worthwhile use of our limited tax dollars.

We believe budget decisions reflect our values, and we believe that we can responsibly pare down wasteful Pentagon spending without compromising our nation's security. We can shift from spending on outdated, unnecessary weapons to investments in projects that keep us secure and help us prosper- first responders, teachers, bridges, roads, and rails. As you face some of the most difficult budgeting challenges in our nation's history, we urge you to consider all the paths we must embark upon in order to achieve responsible investments at home.

**The U.S. Employment Effects of Military and Domestic Spending Priorities: An Updated Analysis, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Department of Economics (December 2011)

(Letter provided to POPVOX by CHN, 2/12/13)

Direct link to this position: https://www.popvox.com/orgs/clasp#clasp-x-105-oppose
H.R. 890: Preserving Work Requirements for Welfare Programs Act of 2013

There is a broad consensus that parents should, to the maximum extent possible, work to provide economic support for their families, and that welfare should serve as a bridge to self-sufficiency through employment. Stable employment in a well-paying job is the best pathway out of poverty and into the middle class. Moreover, employment is one of the key ways that people contribute to society.

However, the work participation rate under TANF is not an effective way of promoting this goal. It is true that employment rates of low-income single mothers grew significantly during the late 1990s, but TANF work participation rates should not receive the credit for this increase. In fact, the work participation rate is at best a distraction from, and in many cases, an obstacle to, states running effective work programs for TANF recipients.

Congress should support allowing states to experiment with new approaches to measuring performance and improving the work services within TANF.

Direct link to this position: https://www.popvox.com/orgs/clasp#clasp-hr-890-oppose
Immigration Reform Principles

3/7/13 - We urge you to create a humane and just immigration process that provides a clear roadmap to citizenship for the 11 million aspiring citizens and dignifies the individual and our nation by ensuring access to affordable health care and needed nutrition assistance. We believe that reform of our immigration system is a moral and economic imperative. This is true for the millions of aspiring citizens caught in the morass of a broken system; for those of us whose family, friends, neighbors, schools, congregations and communities include these individuals; and for achieving a stronger, more prosperous nation.

It is well established that immigrants help fuel the U.S. economy with their hard work and entrepreneurship. They contribute to the national treasury and are needed to shore up Social Security and Medicare. Our population is aging and our labor force increasingly depends upon immigrants and their children.

A new immigration system with a roadmap to citizenship will bring aspiring citizens out of the shadows so that they and their families may fully and equally participate in the life of our nation. Doing so not only will help immigrants but will profoundly benefit the community at large. It will enable economic growth and ground our national policy in the values we cherish. This is our opportunity to live up to our nation’s promise of the unalienable rights of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

To acknowledge the inherent value and dignity of all human beings and to invest in our future, we must commit to ensuring their health and wellbeing. We ask our leaders to pass a national immigration law grounded in our most cherished principles. Such a policy will provide equal responsibility, and an equal opportunity to meet that responsibility, to all individuals living in the U.S.

Immigration reform that reflects America’s values and priorities will provide equality and dignity and will:

 Help lift families out of poverty and promote economic security for all low-income families. This investment in human capital will make for a stronger, more secure nation.

 Reaffirm our nation’s long-standing tradition of providing a core safety net for citizens and immigrants residing in the U.S. which will reinforce efforts to achieve national progress in health and nutrition.

 Ensure access to key programs and public services that meet basic human needs, including health services and insurance, education, nutrition assistance, and working family tax credits.

 Invest in robust efforts to integrate immigrants into their communities.

 Ensure that all individuals have access to and pay their fair share for quality, affordable health care and receive medical care when they need it.

(Letter provided to POPVOX by the National Immigration Law Center.)

Direct link to this position: https://www.popvox.com/orgs/clasp#clasp-x-106-neutral
H.R. 645: The Equal Employment for All Act

January 31, 2013

Dear Representative:

On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the undersigned we urge you to cosponsor “The Equal Employment for All Act” sponsored by Representative Steve Cohen (D-TN). In addition to the weak economy, job-seekers today confront another less discussed challenge—employers that require credit checks as a condition of employment. Not only does this practice discriminate against the long-term unemployed, it has a disparate impact on people of color and constitutes an unwarranted invasion into job seekers’ personal lives. This bill would reduce employment discrimination and protect job seekers’ privacy by prohibiting employers from using credit checks as part of their hiring and promotion decisions for most positions.

Use of employment credit checks is common. A 2012 survey by the Society for Human Resource Management found that 47 percent of firms use employment credit checks for some positions.1 A 2012 survey by Dēmos finds that 1 in 4 unemployed people from low- and middle- income households with credit card debt has been asked to submit to a credit check as part of a job application.2 The actual prevalence of employment credit checks may be significantly higher. In the flurry of paperwork that surrounds the job application process, applicants may quickly forget the specifics of the many documents they sign.

Credit checks create a catch-22 for job seekers. A core value of American society is the opportunity to work hard and get ahead. Yet today in the United States, willing job seekers are facing a new barrier to employment—credit checks. The use of employment credit checks is creating a catch-22 for job seekers. It means that workers who have fallen behind on their bills because they are unemployed are finding it harder to get the job that would make it possible for them to pay off their bills.

No evidence connects credit problems to greater propensity to commit financial crimes on the job. The most common reason employers cite for requiring employment credit checks is a concern that employees who are behind on their bills will be more likely to embezzle funds or engage in other criminal activity.3 Yet, there is virtually no evidence to support this fear. In 2010, Eric Rosenberg, Director of State Government Relations for TransUnion, one of the largest credit reporting companies, told Oregon legislators, “At this point we don’t have any research to show any statistical correlation between what’s in somebody’s credit report and their job performance or their likelihood to commit fraud.”4 Richard Tonowski, the Chief Psychologist for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission agreed with Mr. Rosenberg. In 2010, he testified that there is “very little evidence that credit history is indicative of who can do the job better” and it is “hard to establish a predictive relationship between credit and crime.”5

A more recent study from 2011 also failed to find a link between low credit scores and propensity to commit financial crime at work.6

Weak credit among prospective employees reflects the weak economy—not a lack of personal responsibility. Employment credit screening imposes an automatic second-class status on the 13 million Americans who lost their job during the recession through no fault of their own—or who have fallen victim to the unregulated predatory lending leading up to the financial crisis.7 Prior to the recession, on average, just 15 percent of the 170 million consumers with active credit accounts, or 25.5 million people, had poor credit, defined as FICO scores below 600 out of a possible 850. As of April 2010, one-quarter of U.S. consumers, nearly 43.4 million people, had poor credit. 8

Employment credit checks are an invasion of privacy. The organization that represents corporate HR professionals, the Society for Human Resource Management, notes that when employers have a concern about a potential employee’s credit history, they generally ask the individual to explain why he or she is behind on their bills.9 Given that past due medical bills make up the majority of accounts reported by collection agencies,10 for a significant number of prospective employees, this will mean that they will have to discuss their personal medical histories as a pre-requisite for obtaining employment.

This is contrary to Americans’ strong belief in a right to privacy of their medical histories. That right is embodied in our expectation of confidentiality in the doctor-patient relationship and numerous bipartisan pieces of legislation, including the 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, the 2003 amendments to the Fair Credit Reporting Act that require medical debt to be masked on credit reports. This is an issue that impacts all Americans, but particularly impacts people with disabilities, who have good reason to fear that disclosure of their medical conditions will lead to discriminatory treatment.

Domestic abuse and divorce also frequently lead to credit problems. In cases of domestic abuse, it is not uncommon for the abuser to purposely ruin a spouse’s credit as a way of controlling the spouse. In divorces, individuals frequently find their credit record tarnished by the poor decisions of their former spouse. Many states bar employers from discrimination in employment on the basis of marital status, and the federal government is prohibited from discriminating in its employment decisions on the basis of marital status. Despite common sense and legal recognition that questions about marital status ought to be out of bounds in the hiring process, many prospective employees asked to explain their credit problems now must choose between discussing a recent divorce and/or very personal details regarding the abusive dynamics in a relationship, or risk losing a job opportunity. Furthermore, subjecting potential employees to credit checks will make it more difficult for financially abused spouses to achieve the financial security necessary to end an abusive relationship, thus potentially trapping them in that abusive relationship.

Credit checks are discriminatory. A 2007 report by the Federal Reserve Board found that African Americans and Hispanics had considerably lower credit scores than non-Hispanic whites.11 Additional research, including studies by the Federal Trade Commission and the Brookings Institution, has also documented a racial gap in credit scores.12 Various factors contribute to these racial disparities, including many outside of the control of individual consumers. In the last decade, predatory lending schemes targeting communities of color compounded historic disparities in wealth and assets. During the housing boom, borrowers of color were frequently steered into subprime (or high-interest) loans even though they actually qualified for a prime loan.13 As a result, since the crash, African-American, Latino and Asian- American households have lost more than 50 percent of their family wealth—exactly the assets that workers draw on during emergencies to avoid debt. This compares to a 16 percent loss among white households. Thus, today, families of color have less than a dime in wealth for every dollar held by white families.14 Similarly, Americans with disabilities are less likely than Americans without disabilities to have the assets to weather economic setbacks15—making it more likely for people with disabilities that a setback will lead to real hardship and bad credit. Employment credit checks are thus compounding historic injustices and recent weak regulatory oversight, ensuring that similarly-qualified job seekers cannot compete on an even playing field.

Legal challenges have also raised the discriminatory impact of employment credit screening. The Department of Labor won an administrative hearing officer decision against Bank of America stemming in part from the bank’s use of credit checks to hire entry-level employees, which had a discriminatory impact on African Americans.16 Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, employers may not use an assessment tool that disproportionately disqualifies minorities from employment without providing a legitimate business reason for doing so. For reasons discussed above, the bank could not provide any such justification.

Employers ought to use alternatives to protect against on-the-job crimes by employees.

There are superior methods for determining whether employees are likely to perform well and for preventing theft on the job that do not have the downsides of subjecting large numbers of prospective employees to invasive and discriminatory credit checks, including, effective interviewing techniques, tests to assess job relevant competencies, and personality tests. Also, employers can create more effective systems for detecting and preventing financial crimes by employees once they are on the job.

We urge you to cosponsor the Equal Employment for All Act, which will help prevent discrimination against the long-term unemployed and people of color in hiring and promotion decisions, and limit the invasion of job seekers’ privacy.

(Letter provided to POPVOX by Demos.)

Direct link to this position: https://www.popvox.com/orgs/clasp#clasp-hr-645-support
H.Res. 760: Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the Congress should reject the provisions of H.R. 6083, as ordered reported by the ...

As Congress works to cut the deficit, CLASP, the Center for Law and Social Policy, strongly urges members to protect programs that serve low-income individuals and families.

In these tough economic times when unemployment and underemployment rates remain high and families across the country continue to struggle, low-income programs have proven to be a lifeline for millions. In an average month of 2011, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helped 44.7 million individuals with modest food supports averaging just $134. The Census found that SNAP benefits reduced the 2011 poverty rate by 1.6 percentage points. SNAP’s effectiveness means that enrollment increases when the economy is weak (and need rises) and decreases when the economy recovers. In addition, SNAP has long lasting positive impacts for recipients. A new National Bureau of Economic Research paper finds that access to SNAP during early childhood has positive effects on adult outcomes years later, including improved health and economic self sufficiency.

Medicaid and tax credits also provide much-needed support to low-income families. Any cuts to Medicaid will result in cuts to health care for the most vulnerable Americans, who rely on the program for health and long-term care. These individuals include millions of children, pregnant women, and elderly, blind and disabled people. In addition, Congress must protect the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC), which help millions of working families make ends meet. Research has shown that the EITC and CTC reduce poverty and encourage work by supplementing the income of low wage workers. In 2011, these tax credits alone kept 8.7 million people out of poverty. These programs work and must be protected.

As Congress debates sequestration, tax cuts and the expired Farm Bill, we urge your strong opposition to any harmful restrictions or cuts to SNAP, Medicaid and other vital programs that serve low-income individuals and families. We also urge you to extend federal unemployment insurance benefits and the improvements to the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit, which are critical in lifting workers and families from poverty. These decisions will have far-reaching and long-term implications for millions of low-income families and their ability to access adequate resources in difficult economic times.

(This bill failed to be passed during the two-year Congress in which it was introduced.)
Direct link to this position: https://www.popvox.com/orgs/clasp#clasp-hres-760-support
H.R. 15: Middle Class Tax Cut Act

Dear Representative:

This week, you will have the opportunity to vote on two bills that set very different directions for the nation’s economy and families, H.R. 15 and H.R. 8.

CLASP, the Center for Law and Social Policy, strongly urges you to support H.R. 15, the Middle Class Tax Cut Act of 2012, which presents a fair and responsible approach to deficit reduction by extending tax cuts for everyone on earnings up to $250,000. This bill is identical to the Senate-passed bill, S. 3412. The bill also preserves many improvements that have been made over the last decade to programs helping low- and middle-income Americans support their families, including maintaining the Bush and Obama expansions of the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit. These programs encourage work and keep millions of Americans from falling into poverty. The federal earned income tax credit alone reduced the number of children classified as poor by 3 million in 2010. Funds received by low-income workers are quickly spent and support local economies.

H.R. 15 also extends the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which helps make college more affordable – keeping the American dream of a higher education and a better life within reach for students and their families. It also helps ensure employers have the skilled workforce they need to stay competitive in a global economy.

You will also have the opportunity to vote on H.R. 8, the Job Protection and Recession Prevention Act of 2012. This legislation would, in contrast to H.R. 15, continue tax cuts for the top 2 percent of earners while ending improvements in tax credits for hard-working, low-income families. It’s grossly unfair and misguided to continue tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans while raising taxes for those families just barely making ends meet. CLASP urges you to stand up for fairness and hard-working, everyday families by voting against H.R. 8.

Extending the upper-income provisions for one year, as formulated in H.R.8, would reduce federal revenues by more than $35 billion compared to H.R. 15. This would force deep cuts to both defense and domestic spending in order to avoid ever-rising deficits. America desperately needs a balanced approach to deficit reduction — one that both raises revenue to a sustainable level and makes thoughtful choices about spending priorities. The prolonged economic downturn has had a devastating impact on low-income families and the working poor. Today, a majority of American communities experience greater income inequality and opportunity gaps, joblessness, and underemployment.

As these bills move to the House floor, we ask that you do what’s right for families across the country and support the balanced approach to deficit reduction that does not harm workers, families and children already struggling.

(This bill failed to be passed during the two-year Congress in which it was introduced.)
Direct link to this position: https://www.popvox.com/orgs/clasp#clasp-hr-15-support
H.R. 8 (112th): The Job Protection and Recession Prevention Act

Dear Representative:

This week, you will have the opportunity to vote on two bills that set very different directions for the nation’s economy and families, H.R. 15 and H.R. 8.

CLASP, the Center for Law and Social Policy, strongly urges you to support H.R. 15, the Middle Class Tax Cut Act of 2012, which presents a fair and responsible approach to deficit reduction by extending tax cuts for everyone on earnings up to $250,000. This bill is identical to the Senate-passed bill, S. 3412. The bill also preserves many improvements that have been made over the last decade to programs helping low- and middle-income Americans support their families, including maintaining the Bush and Obama expansions of the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit. These programs encourage work and keep millions of Americans from falling into poverty. The federal earned income tax credit alone reduced the number of children classified as poor by 3 million in 2010. Funds received by low-income workers are quickly spent and support local economies.

H.R. 15 also extends the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which helps make college more affordable – keeping the American dream of a higher education and a better life within reach for students and their families. It also helps ensure employers have the skilled workforce they need to stay competitive in a global economy.

You will also have the opportunity to vote on H.R. 8, the Job Protection and Recession Prevention Act of 2012. This legislation would, in contrast to H.R. 15, continue tax cuts for the top 2 percent of earners while ending improvements in tax credits for hard-working, low-income families. It’s grossly unfair and misguided to continue tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans while raising taxes for those families just barely making ends meet. CLASP urges you to stand up for fairness and hard-working, everyday families by voting against H.R. 8.

Extending the upper-income provisions for one year, as formulated in H.R.8, would reduce federal revenues by more than $35 billion compared to H.R. 15. This would force deep cuts to both defense and domestic spending in order to avoid ever-rising deficits. America desperately needs a balanced approach to deficit reduction — one that both raises revenue to a sustainable level and makes thoughtful choices about spending priorities. The prolonged economic downturn has had a devastating impact on low-income families and the working poor. Today, a majority of American communities experience greater income inequality and opportunity gaps, joblessness, and underemployment.

As these bills move to the House floor, we ask that you do what’s right for families across the country and support the balanced approach to deficit reduction that does not harm workers, families and children already struggling.

(This bill failed to be passed during the two-year Congress in which it was introduced.)
Direct link to this position: https://www.popvox.com/orgs/clasp#clasp-hr-8-oppose
H.R. 3346: Emergency Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2011

“CLASP strongly supports the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Extension Act. State and federal unemployment assistance kept more than 3 million people from falling into poverty in 2010 alone. With long-term unemployment still at crisis levels, lawmakers should pass this bill to prevent millions of unemployed workers from experiencing even more hardship in the year ahead.”

-Alan Houseman, Executive Director, CLASP

http://democrats.wa...e.aspx?NewsID=11944

(This bill failed to be passed during the two-year Congress in which it was introduced.)
Direct link to this position: https://www.popvox.com/orgs/clasp#clasp-hr-3346-support

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Oppose deficit reduction that targets low- and moderate income families

In less than two weeks, a combination of expiring programs, automatic spending cuts, and tax increases, popularly called the “fiscal cliff,” is scheduled to take effect. This week, Speaker Boehner appears to have abandoned attempts to come to agreement with the President on a comprehensive package to prevent this. Instead, he is expected to bring up for a vote in the House of Representatives two proposals, together which would slash spending, particularly on programs that serve low-income individuals, in order to preserve tax breaks for the wealthy and defense spending. Adopting these proposals would be significantly worse than heading off the “fiscal cliff.”

Permanent Tax Relief for Families & Small Businesses Act (Plan B)

Plan B would raise taxes only on income above $1 million a year - and for the lowest income households. The plan would raise taxes by an average of $1,000 on 25 million working households with children and students. "Plan B" does not include any of the improvements made to the EITC, the Child Tax Credit (CTC) or the AOTC in 2009. A single mother with two children working full time at the minimum wage and would face a reduction of about $1,447 - or 86 percent - to $248 in her child tax credit. Meanwhile, the top 0.3 percent of households with incomes over $1 million would get tax cuts averaging $50,000 per year. This bill would allow federal extended Unemployment Insurance benefits to expire, and would leave "sequestration" - indiscriminate across the board spending cuts to both military and domestic discretionary spending - in place.

(This bill was proposed in a previous session of Congress.)
Direct link to this position: https://www.popvox.com/orgs/clasp#clasp-x-52-oppose
H.R. 6684: Spending Reduction Act of 2012

This bill is nearly identical to the Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act passed by the House in May. It would avert the automatic cuts for defense programs, but continue those for domestic spending. Moreover, it would add deep new cuts to critical human needs programs including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps), Medicaid, and the Child Tax Credit. It would also completely eliminate the Social Services Block Grant, which provides funding for child care, child welfare and elderly services programs.

(This bill failed to be passed during the two-year Congress in which it was introduced.)
Direct link to this position: https://www.popvox.com/orgs/clasp#clasp-hr-6684-oppose
S. 3412 (112th): The Middle Class Tax Cut Act

The Middle Class Tax Cut Act, which was approved by the senate last summer, would extend tax cuts for individuals making less than $200,000 a year or couples making less than $250,000 a year. It would include extensions of the improvements to the child tax credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) that have lifted 6.3 million people, including 3.3 million children, out of poverty in 2010. It would also extend the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) that makes college more affordable.

While this bill would not resolve the fiscal cliff -- it would allow federal extended Unemployment Insurance benefits to expire, and would leave “sequestration” — indiscriminate across the board spending cuts to both military and domestic discretionary spending — in place. But the votes on these bills will strongly shape the final deal that must be negotiated. Congress members should vote YES for extending the expiring tax cuts for households earning less than $250,000 — including the refundable CTC, EITC and AOTC. Congress members should vote NO on Speaker Boehner's "Plan B".

(This bill failed to be passed during the two-year Congress in which it was introduced.)
Direct link to this position: https://www.popvox.com/orgs/clasp#clasp-s-3412-support
H.R. 5652 (112th): The Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act

The Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act would avert the automatic cuts for defense programs, but continue those for domestic spending. Moreover, it would add deep new cuts to critical human needs programs including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps), Medicaid, and the Child Tax Credit. It would also completely eliminate the Social Services Block Grant, which provides funding for child care, child welfare and elderly services programs.

(This bill failed to be passed during the two-year Congress in which it was introduced.)
Direct link to this position: https://www.popvox.com/orgs/clasp#clasp-hr-5652-oppose

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Support Pathways Back to Work

Pathways Back to Work would support employment and job training opportunities for the long-term unemployed and low-income adults and youth, who are at great risk of being left behind as the economy recovers from the Great Recession.

H.R. 3425: Pathways Back to Work Act of 2011

Pathways Back to Work would support employment and job training opportunities for the long-term unemployed and low-income adults and youth, who are at great risk of being left behind as the economy recovers from the Great Recession.

Investing in such strategies is critical and timely. Nearly two out of five unemployed workers have been jobless for six months or more, and studies show that workers who have been unemployed for long periods find it increasingly difficult to secure employment. Individuals with low education and skill levels continue to experience unemployment rates that are significantly higher than those of more educated workers. Youth and young adults continue to face the worst jobs prospects since the Great Depression, with little progress since our recent recession ended. Today, one in four African Americans between ages 18 and 24 is looking for a job, but cannot find one, as are more than one in seven Hispanic young adults. Meanwhile, 6.7 million youth are neither employed nor in school. Without targeted efforts to connect unemployed youth to jobs, paid work experience, education, and training, youth and young adults will likely spend the better part of a decade with few opportunities to work, gain skills, or earn family sustaining wages. These trends carry long-term consequences not only for these workers and their families, but for our country’s long-term economic growth and competitiveness.

Of the total $5 billion under the Pathways Back to Work Fund, $2 billion would be available for subsidized employment programs that are patterned on the successful Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Emergency Fund that created 260,000 jobs in 2009 and 2010. Governors would have the option of administering the program through TANF agencies or local workforce boards under the Workforce Investment Act or a combination of the two.

The Fund includes $1.5 billion in funding for summer and year-round employment opportunities for disadvantaged youth. A similar round of funding provided in 2009 led to paid work experience and training for nearly 360,000 young people. The bill would encourage local workforce boards to create employment opportunities in emerging or in-demand occupations and to provide year-round youth participants with education and training leading to industry-recognized credentials.

The Fund also establishes a $1.5 billion competitive grant program for a range of promising and research-based work and learning opportunities that help low-skilled adults and youth obtain education and training leading to jobs and credentials. Local grantees would apply for and receive funding to carry out:

On-the-job training and registered apprenticeships;

Sector-based training programs that meet the needs of groups of employers;

Strategies that lead to industry-recognized credentials in growing fields;

Direct work experience along with supportive services; or

Adult basic education services or integrated education and training models that allow students to acquire basic skills and postsecondary credentials.

(This bill failed to be passed during the two-year Congress in which it was introduced.)
Direct link to this position: https://www.popvox.com/orgs/clasp#clasp-hr-3425-support
S. 1861: Pathways Back to Work Act of 2011

Pathways Back to Work would support employment and job training opportunities for the long-term unemployed and low-income adults and youth, who are at great risk of being left behind as the economy recovers from the Great Recession.

Investing in such strategies is critical and timely. Nearly two out of five unemployed workers have been jobless for six months or more, and studies show that workers who have been unemployed for long periods find it increasingly difficult to secure employment. Individuals with low education and skill levels continue to experience unemployment rates that are significantly higher than those of more educated workers. Youth and young adults continue to face the worst jobs prospects since the Great Depression, with little progress since our recent recession ended. Today, one in four African Americans between ages 18 and 24 is looking for a job, but cannot find one, as are more than one in seven Hispanic young adults. Meanwhile, 6.7 million youth are neither employed nor in school. Without targeted efforts to connect unemployed youth to jobs, paid work experience, education, and training, youth and young adults will likely spend the better part of a decade with few opportunities to work, gain skills, or earn family sustaining wages. These trends carry long-term consequences not only for these workers and their families, but for our country’s long-term economic growth and competitiveness.

Of the total $5 billion under the Pathways Back to Work Fund, $2 billion would be available for subsidized employment programs that are patterned on the successful Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Emergency Fund that created 260,000 jobs in 2009 and 2010. Governors would have the option of administering the program through TANF agencies or local workforce boards under the Workforce Investment Act or a combination of the two.

The Fund includes $1.5 billion in funding for summer and year-round employment opportunities for disadvantaged youth. A similar round of funding provided in 2009 led to paid work experience and training for nearly 360,000 young people. The bill would encourage local workforce boards to create employment opportunities in emerging or in-demand occupations and to provide year-round youth participants with education and training leading to industry-recognized credentials.

The Fund also establishes a $1.5 billion competitive grant program for a range of promising and research-based work and learning opportunities that help low-skilled adults and youth obtain education and training leading to jobs and credentials. Local grantees would apply for and receive funding to carry out:

On-the-job training and registered apprenticeships;

Sector-based training programs that meet the needs of groups of employers;

Strategies that lead to industry-recognized credentials in growing fields;

Direct work experience along with supportive services; or

Adult basic education services or integrated education and training models that allow students to acquire basic skills and postsecondary credentials.

(This bill failed to be passed during the two-year Congress in which it was introduced.)
Direct link to this position: https://www.popvox.com/orgs/clasp#clasp-s-1861-support