Be a Part of this Historic Moment: Enroll in Health Insurance Today!

Be a Part of this Historic Moment: Enroll in Health Insurance Today!

  Health care as we know it is changing, and that’s a big deal! Last week our new health policy fellow blogged about this historic moment, provided information on who will most likely benefit from the expansions occurring due to the Affordable Care Act, and highlighted some outreach efforts that are happening now. Starting TODAY Californians can now shop and compare health plans and enroll into an affordable, quality plan through Covered California, for coverage to begin on January 1, 2014. If you have questions or need some extra help with your application, call Covered California at 1-800-300-1506 and a person will be able to help you in your preferred…
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‘Obamacare’ Comin’ Round the Mountain. Are you ready?

‘Obamacare’ Comin’ Round the Mountain. Are you ready?

Whether Republicans in Washington like it or not, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as ‘Obamacare’, is likely here to stay – despite the present battle over an attempt to defund the measure. But I’m not here to talk to you about the possibility of a government shutdown and its effect on our communities; Mark Garcia already did that. Instead, I want to talk to you about what the Affordable Care Act means for low-income communities of color. Currently, there are 47 million uninsured Americans living in the United States. More than seven million of them live right here in California. Rising healthcare costs and stagnant wages are…
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Questions for Congress

Questions for Congress

As my colleague Mark Garcia pointed out the other day, Congress is in the midst of a theatrical showdown which could well result in a government shutdown and might leave the federal government unable to pay its bills in mid-October, with all sorts of terrible consequences. And it’s all for nothing. We know how this story must end. Eventually, Congress will pass the legislation needed to keep the federal government running and paying its debts, and the Affordable Care Act will not be repealed or defunded. But a lot of time will be wasted on empty theatrics, with possible serious damage to the economy while real problems go unaddressed. So,…
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This Week in “What the…?” – Bailout Edition

This Week in “What the…?” – Bailout Edition

Remember AIG? AIG is the firm that insured piles of risky securities backed by trick mortgages during the housing bubble, and had to be bailed out by the Feds with boatloads of our tax dollars. In the midst of being bailed out, the company paid $165 million in “retention” bonuses to some of the very executives who engineered the catastrophe in the first place. But criticizing the company for this, apparently, is just like being part of a racist lynch mob. At least, that’s the opinion of AIG CEO Robert Benmosche, who told an interviewer that criticism of AIG’s bonuses “was intended to stir public anger, to get everybody out…
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The Possible Government Shutdown and Why It Matters

The Possible Government Shutdown and Why It Matters

There is a looming government shutdown over an attempt to kill the Affordable Care Act, and some in Congress are making threats about what needs to be done to prevent it.  The strange part is that these members of Congress are the ones who have created the possibility of a shutdown, and they are the only ones who can prevent it. Let me explain.  Congress creates federal laws and the budget.  The president can recommend a law or budget and suggest additions or changes, but ultimately the budget and the ACA (sometimes called “Obamacare”) were voted on and passed by Congress.  If Congress creates a budget problem, Congress has to…
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The Press, the Legislature and the Power of Silence

The Press, the Legislature and the Power of Silence

What if they passed a law and no one knew about it? Or what if they killed a potentially good law and no one knew in time to try to save it? That’s happening a lot in Sacramento – and, I’m willing to bet, in other state capitals as well. But you have to look hard to see that it’s happening. This is occurring for two reasons. One is that there are simply fewer reporters covering the news in our state capitol. As Randy Shandobil, who left KTVU television here in the Bay Area a couple years ago to start his own communications firm, pointed out in a recent column…
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SB 649: One Step Closer to a Fairer Criminal Justice System

SB 649: One Step Closer to a Fairer Criminal Justice System

Props to Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) for stepping up to help fix our broken justice system. Last week, his SB 649 passed the Assembly, with concurrence from the Senate, and now moves on to the Governor. If signed into law, the bill will help shrink our prison population and reduce recidivism by offering offenders opportunities for rehabilitation, access to jobs, and to reenter their communities. Please Contact Gov. Jerry Brown right away and tell him and tell him to sign SB 649. This historic drug sentencing reform bill allows counties to significantly reduce incarceration costs by giving local prosecutors the flexibility to charge low-level, nonviolent drug offenses as misdemeanors…
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Clean Cars For All Legislation On Its Way To The Governor’s Desk

Clean Cars For All Legislation On Its Way To The Governor’s Desk

Greenlining’s Environmental Equity team often highlights the unjustly high levels of asthma and other pollution related illnesses in California’s communities of color, problems that will only get worse with an increasingly severe climate crisis.  We also know that for various reasons older, high-polluting and fuel inefficient vehicles tend to be concentrated in our neighborhoods.  In fact, it is estimated that 75 percent of vehicular pollution is caused by just 25 percent of the vehicle fleet.  Fuel costs tend to eat up a greater percentage of low-income families’ take-home pay.  Taken together, what does all of this mean for our communities? We are not only disproportionately affected by pollution, but are also hit harder in our wallets each time we fill…
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California Sets Golden Standard for Immigrants, Minimum Wage

California Sets Golden Standard for Immigrants, Minimum Wage

Working late into the night yesterday, the California legislature successfully passed two high-profile bills that will surely become the talk of the country. Before Syria and foreign policy came into the limelight, national discussions focused on issues like comprehensive immigration reform and raising the minimum wage. It looks like yesterday’s actions from the California legislature will help resurface the discussions of these issues. AB 60, a bill sponsored by Assemblyman Luis Alejo (D-Salinas) who is an alum of Casa, our residential leadership program, will allow undocumented immigrants to obtain California driver’s licenses. This is a huge deal for hard-working immigrant communities, since the new law will enable families and individuals…
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Five Years Later, Slow Progress on Dodd-Frank Reforms

Five Years Later, Slow Progress on Dodd-Frank Reforms

Five years ago this month, our economy was in a world of hurt. From the Dow’s record one-day plunge to Lehman Brothers filing for bankruptcy, the pain was spread far and wide. But it was underserved communities who took the hardest hit from the crisis and accompanying mortgage meltdown. For example, the Brandeis Institute on Assets and Social Policy found that, in the short period between 2007 and 2009, black families lost half their collective wealth and Latinos lost an appalling 67%. And The Urban Institute showed that the racial wealth gap is the largest it has ever been since the Federal Reserve started tracking it. The task of recovery…
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