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Medicare and Medicaid Turn 50

via wpr.org

via wpr.org

Fifty years ago today, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law legislation that established the Medicare and Medicaid programs—our country’s first major form of national health care.

Prior to Medicare, very few Americans over the age of 65 had health care and many lived in poverty. Similar to the Affordable Care Act, the idea of establishing a national health care safety net for older Americans was contentious.  President Roosevelt stopped short of including a federal health insurance program in the Social Security Act of 1935 in order to avoid jeopardizing the bill’s passage, and both Presidents Truman and Kennedy tried and failed to pass legislation to establish a health insurance program for older Americans.

President Johnson made Medicare a top priority as part of his War on Poverty, and launched an aggressive and successful campaign to pass the legislation.  On July 30, 1965, President Johnson traveled to the Harry S. Truman Library in Independence, Missouri, to sign Medicare into law, and presented President Truman and his wife with the first two Medicare cards.

At the signing ceremony, President Johnson said, “No longer will older Americans be denied the healing miracle of modern medicine. No longer will illness crush and destroy the savings that they have so carefully put away over a lifetime so that they might enjoy dignity in their later years. No longer will young families see their own incomes, and their own hopes, eaten away simply because they are carrying out their deep moral obligations to their parents, and to their uncles, and their aunts. And no longer will this Nation refuse the hand of justice to those who have given a lifetime of service and wisdom and labor to the progress of this progressive country.”

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Upgrading Malaysia’s Status: Bad for Human Rights and American Workers

“It’s a shame President Obama and his administration will go to such lengths to impose another free trade agreement on American workers.”

via The Diplomat

via The Diplomat

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Marc Perrone, International President of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), today released the following statement in response to the Obama administration’s decision to upgrade Malaysia’s position in its annual Trafficking in Persons report.

“We are greatly disappointed by the State Department’s decision to upgrade Malaysia in its annual human trafficking report. Removing Malaysia from its tier 3 status is a clear and premeditated political decision by the Obama Administration to eliminate any possible stumbling block for the passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Free Trade Agreement.

“At a time when American workers are grappling with increasing uncertainty, income inequality and stagnating wages, this administration and this Congress have shown they would rather protect corporate interests over the concerns of everyday American workers. Hard-working men and women will now lose their jobs or struggle to earn a good income because of a trade deal negotiated in secret by for-hire special interest henchmen.

“Labor and human rights cannot, and should not, be negotiated to appease the economic interests of a few. The workers of Malaysia and of America deserve better. Shame on you for prioritizing a trade agreement over the well-being of America’s hardworking families.”

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Join the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) online at www.ufcw.org

We are 1.3 million families standing together to build an economy that every hard-working family deserves.

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New Report Shows Rise In Child Poverty After Great Recession

child povertyMore children in the U.S. are living in poverty after the Great Recession than during the economic downturn, according to a new report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation

According to the report, titled Kids Count: 2015 State Trends In Child Well-Being, about 22 percent of America’s children—or one in four—lived below the poverty line in 2013.  During the middle of the Great Recession in 2008, 18 percent of children in the U.S. lived below the poverty line.

The report is based on data gathered from federal agencies during 2008 to 2013 and examines factors that affect the well-being of children state-by-state, including economic well-being, education, health, and family and community. The report also examines racial disparities, and points out children of color are more likely to live in poverty than white children.

Living in poverty has a pernicious effect on the future prospects of America’s children.  According to the report, children who experience poverty are more likely encounter social and economic difficulties later in life, including experiencing poor health, becoming parents at a young age, dropping out of school and facing limited employment opportunities.