CVV News l December 20, 2022
Washington, DC— Congress unveiled the 2023 omnibus appropriations package today, which sets federal spending for Fiscal Year 2023.
The bill includes policies and increased funding for programs that benefit Latinos and all Americans, especially related to health care and coverage, which are critical as we continue to weather the pandemic and other health threats. Sonia M. Pérez, Acting CEO + COO of UnidosUS, the nation’s largest Latino civil rights organization, issued the following statement in response to the package:
“We applaud the health coverage protections in this package. Thankfully, Medicaid is strengthened, on an ongoing basis, by improving the continuity of coverage and care for children and post-partum women. The legislation also extends for five years important temporary protections for U.S. citizens who live in Puerto Rico. And while the bill authorizes Medicaid programs to begin terminating families’ eligibility on April 1, 2023, it gives the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) powerful new tools to hold states accountable to protect families’ health coverage during the next few years.
Some funding priorities that specifically would benefit Latino families and that UnidosUS has championed also received modest but meaningful increases including funds to support English learners in public schools and low-income college students seeking to earn a degree, and programs that promote naturalization among long-term immigrants. We express our sincere appreciation to Rep. Barbara Lee and Sen. Alex Padilla for ensuring funding to UC Berkeley for a first-of-its-kind pipeline to support scholars conducting community-based research to address systemic inequities faced by Latinos. The Electoral Reform Act is also included in the package, which would reduce the likelihood of another attack on the Capitol to overturn election results.
“At the same time, the following critical Latino priorities failed to be included and represent a missed opportunity to lock in progress made by Latinos during the pandemic:
- Fully protect Medicaid coverage for 15 million people, the majority of whom are Latino and other people of color, who are in danger of losing health care when Medicaid’s continuous coverage requirements end on April 1st. While CMS will have the ability to oversee and intervene in state actions, state Medicaid programs will still be able to impose needless administrative burdens that terminate health care for eligible families.
- Make any of the 2021 Child Tax Credit (CTC) expansions permanent, reversing the progress made in reducing child poverty and eliminating critical economic support for more than 19 million children and their families.
- Resolve the precarious status of Dreamers and other long-term undocumented immigrants through targeted immigration reforms, as well as make important investments to fortify the border. Despite widespread support from voters who wanted to see immediate action after the election, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator Cornyn blocked bipartisan efforts by Senators Tillis and Sinema to provide a legislative solution.
“We welcome the critical health and other investments included in this omnibus package. And to the millions impacted by what was left out, we reiterate our strong commitment to continue to fight for these unaddressed Latino priorities in 2023 before the new Congress, the Biden Administration, and in the states. These missing investments not only affect the country’s 62 million Latinos, they have implications for our nation’s future prosperity. Despite the omnibus’s harmful shortcomings, it deserves legislators’ support and we urge Congress to pass it and send it to the President for his signature.”
UnidosUS Statement Regarding Senate Deal on Budget Reconciliation Package
CVV News l July 29,2022
Washington DC—In response to the unveiling of a Senate deal on a budget reconciliation package, UnidosUS President and CEO Janet Murguía issued the following statement:
“UnidosUS applauds the agreement that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) unveiled last night on the ‘Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.’ This budget reconciliation and economic package meets the current moment in the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and rising prices for families. We urge Congress to pass this package and get it to the president’s desk as soon as possible.
“Most notably, this bill would prevent hardworking families already dealing with inflation from facing a huge spike in their health insurance costs by including a three-year extension of financial help that the American Rescue Plan provided to people who buy their own health insurance from the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Marketplace.
“This legislation is vital to Latinos, who have some of the nation’s lowest levels of insurance coverage, and who have disproportionately suffered from the worst American pandemic in more than a century. Thanks to the American Rescue Plan’s financial assistance provisions, Latino participation in the ACA marketplace increased by 39% in just one year. More than 3 million Latinos rely on the health insurance marketplace for their health care, and they make up 25% of all marketplace enrollees, second only to non-Hispanic whites. The decision to continue that assistance is an important victory for health equity and people of color overall, who represented 60% of all increased Marketplace enrollment once the American Rescue Plan’s aid became available. It will also provide much needed relief when many still struggle to pay for the rising cost of food, gasoline, and other necessities.
“Other important provisions in the ‘Inflation Reduction Act’ include reducing the price of medicine by allowing Medicare to negotiate the prices of prescription drugs, and climate provisions that include making vital investments in low-income communities to help them adapt to climate change and our transition to a cleaner economy.
“While the ‘Inflation Reduction Act of 2022’ does not include everything families, including Latino families need, it would advance equity and critical health and policy priorities for our community. As such, we urge that the Senate take this important step forward as we continue to fight for the other health, tax, education, immigration, and housing policies Latinos need to experience a full and equitable recovery from the pandemic.”
Note to Pres. Biden: Build Local Media Back With Real Dollars, Not Tax Credits
Dr. John Warren
Special to California Black Media Partners
When the Build Back Better Act passed the House of Representatives last year, there was some excitement about a provision in it authorizing a payroll tax credit for local news organizations. If the bill had not died in the U.S Senate last month, it would have provided tax savings for local media outlets amounting to nearly $1.7 billion over 10 years.
Supporters of the bill in the U.S Congress have vowed to bring it up again this year with the hope of funding a range of social, economic, education health and national security priorities.
Researchers at the University of North Carolina Hussman School of Media and Journalism found that there are at least 200 counties in the U.S. lacking a local newspaper and the Pew Research Center reported a decline from 71,000 journalism positions in 2008 to 31,000 in 2020, a 57 % drop. The dismantling of local news reporting has diminished its role in providing important public oversight that holds our government accountable; promotes fairness, honesty, equity and justice; and preserves the integrity of our democracy.
So, the decline in local papers is real and disturbing. But those pushing a payroll tax credit for media outlets as the answer to the problem are way off the mark. The legislation and the discussion around it miss a very important point concerning small community newspapers, in general, and Black newspapers in particular, which have now been in existence for195 years.
Many of our small local newspaper businesses operate at a loss. We do not need a tax credit. We have a hard time making payroll. As a result, most small newspapers hire journalists as independent contractors because they can’t afford payroll taxes and benefits. So, how would a payroll tax credit benefit us?
The solution for helping cash-strapped media outlets, and, by extension, solving the crisis facing local media businesses across the country, requires generating sufficient revenues that would allow us to hire journalists and other staff either on payroll or as independent contractors.
If the President and the Congress really want to help small newspapers, which have declined from 5,000 community newspapers a few decades ago to less than 2,000 today, there is fix that can be a win-win for all those concerned.
The President should issue an executive order requiring all bids for government contracts under the Build Back Better Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act) to adhere to Title V of the U.S. Code’s Administrative Procedures Act, which requires the publication of “Notice” under due process. Those notices must also be inclusively published in local newspapers as a mandate so that small businesses and independent contractors are aware when government contracts are announced, allowing them to compete in the procurement process. The publication of such notices in local newspapers would bring both awareness and dollars to the communities of Main Street. Those dollars would help local newspapers hire journalists in a way far more meaningful than tax credits to people who already can’t afford payrolls.
The President could make such an executive order so inclusive that the benefit would be far reaching and felt immediately. Perhaps Vice President Kamala Harris, who is from California and familiar with the Black Press, and Mr. Cedric Richmond, Domestic Policy Advisor to the President from New Orleans, might be helpful in making the case for such an executive order. About the Author Dr. John E. Warren is the Publisher of The San Diego Voice & Viewpoint newspaper.