Friday, January 16, 2009

House passed SCHIP

Congress took at big step in covering uninsured children on Jan 14. The House passed legislation to reauthorize the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), 289-139 . This bill would extend the program by 4½ years and would cover an estimated 4.1 million uninsured children. As you recall, in 2007, Congress passed a similar bill but it was later vetoed by President Bush. One key aspect of this legislation is language to allow states the option to immediately begin covering documented immigrant children and pregnant women (they currently have to wait 5 years before they are eligible). It is estimated that between 400,000 and 600,000 children would become eligible by simply lifting the ban.

I'm not sure what happened in the Senate, but I will let you know when I do!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Clinton's statements on global poverty in Confirmation Hearing

Below is an excerpt of Senator Clinton's testimony in her confirmation
hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in
which she outlines her perspective on global poverty and development.

"In Africa, the foreign policy objectives of the Obama administration
are rooted in security, political, economic, and humanitarian
interests, including: combating al Qaeda's efforts to seek safe havens
in failed states in the Horn of Africa; helping African nations to
conserve their natural resources and reap fair benefits from them;
stopping war in Congo; ending autocracy in Zimbabwe and human
devastation in Darfur; supporting African democracies like South
Africa and Ghana-which just had its second change of power in
democratic elections; and working aggressively to reach the Millennium
Development Goals in health, education, and economic opportunity.

Many significant problems we face challenge not just the United
States, but all nations and peoples. You, Mr. Chairman, were among the
first, in a growing chorus from both parties, to recognize that
climate change is an unambiguous security threat. At the extreme it
threatens our very existence, but well before that point, it could
very well incite new wars of an old kind-over basic resources like
food, water, and arable land. The world is in need of an urgent,
coordinated response to climate change and, as President- Elect Obama
has said, America must be a leader in developing and implementing it.
We can lead abroad through participation in international efforts like
the upcoming UN Copenhagen Climate Conference and a Global Energy
Forum. We can lead at home by pursuing an energy policy that reduces
our carbon emissions while reducing our dependence on foreign oil and
gas-which will benefit the fight against climate change and enhance
our economy and security.

The great statesman and general George Marshall noted that our gravest
enemies are often not nations or doctrines, but "hunger, poverty,
desperation, and chaos." To create more friends and fewer enemies, we
can't just win wars. We must find common ground and common purpose
with other peoples and nations so that together we can overcome
hatred, violence, lawlessness, and despair.

The Obama administration recognizes that, even when we cannot fully
agree with some governments, we share a bond of humanity with their
people. By investing in that common humanity we advance our common
security because we pave the way for a more peaceful, prosperous world.

Mr. Chairman, you were one of the first to underscore the importance
of our involvement in the global AIDS fight. And you have worked very
hard on this issue for many years. Now, thanks to a variety of
efforts - including President Bush's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief as
well as the work of NGOs and foundations-the United States enjoys
widespread support in public opinion polls in many African countries.
This is true even among Muslim populations in Tanzania and Kenya,
where America is seen as a leader in the fight against AIDS, malaria,
and TB.

We have an opportunity to build on this success by partnering with
NGOs to help expand the infrastructure of health clinics in Africa so
that more people can have access to life-saving drugs, fewer mothers
transmit HIV to their children, and fewer lives are lost. And we can
generate even more goodwill through other kinds of social investment,
by working effectively with international organizations and NGO
partners to build schools and train teachers, and by ensuring that
children are free from hunger and exploitation so that they can attend
those schools and pursue their dreams for the future. This is why the
President-Elect supports a Global Education Fund to bolster secular
education around the world.

I want to take a moment to emphasize the importance of a "bottom-up"
approach to ensuring that America remains a positive force in the world.

The President-elect and I believe in this strongly. Investing in our
common humanity through social development is not marginal to our
foreign policy but integral to accomplishing our goals. Today more
than two billion people worldwide live on less than $2 a day. They are
facing rising food prices and widespread hunger. Calls for expanding
civil and political rights in countries plagued by mass hunger and
disease will fall on deaf ears unless democracy actually delivers
material benefits that improve people's lives while weeding out the
corruption that too often stands in the way of progress.

Our foreign policy must reflect our deep commitment to the cause of
making human rights a reality for millions of oppressed people around
the world. Of particular concern to me is the plight of women and
girls, who comprise the majority of the world's unhealthy, unschooled,
unfed, and unpaid. If half of the world's population remains
vulnerable to economic, political, legal, and social marginalization,
our hope of advancing democracy and prosperity will remain in serious
jeopardy. We still have a long way to go and the United States must
remain an unambiguous and unequivocal voice in support of women's
rights in every country, every region, on every continent."

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tell Congress to Pass Children’s Health Insurance Now

A advocacy action alerrt from RESULTS:
Congress is moving rapidly to pass reauthorization of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), a program designed to provide health coverage to low-income children. The program, created in 1997, was set to expire in 2007. Strong bi-partisan majorities in Congress passed a five-year reauthorization of SCHIP that year, but it was vetoed by President Bush twice. Congress then passed extension of the current program through March 31, 2009, in the hopes that a new president would support the reauthorization bill.

This new SCHIP reauthorization is expected to be similar to the 2007 legislation. It is anticipated to cover 4 million additional children and will be paid for primarily with a 61 cent tobacco tax increase (as in the 2007 bill). A significant improvement over the 2007 bill is removal of the five-year eligibility waiting period for documented immigrant children and pregnant women. The House is expected to remove the ban but the Senate may keep it. Estimates are that if the ban is lifted, 400,000-600,000 low-income immigrant children will become eligible for much-needed health care services.

The Senate Finance Committee is expected to mark up its bill on Thursday. The full House could vote on its SCHIP bill later this week.

TAKE ACTION: Call Congress TODAY toll-free (888) 797-8717 and tell them support children’s health by voting yes for SCHIP reauthorization. Use our SCHIP Call-in Alert to help with your calls. Here are the targets:

Senate: Urge Senate Finance Committee members to pass a bill similar to the House version, particularly including language that removes the five-year wait period for documented immigrant children. If your Senators are not on the Finance Committee, urge them to talk to those members, as well as urging your Senators to vote YES on the final bill. Below is a list of Senate Finance Committee members.

House: Push your representative to vote YES when the bill comes to the floor this week. New members of Congress especially need to be educated about the importance of covering all children with quality health care.

Senate Finance Committee members are: Max Baucus (D-MT), Chairman; Charles Grassley (R-IA), Ranking Member; Jon Kyl (R-AZ); Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), Ken Salazar (D-CO); Mike Crapo (R-ID); Pat Roberts (R-KS); Jim Bunning (R-KY), Olympia Snowe (R-ME); John Kerry (D-MA); Debbie Stabenow (D-MI); John Ensign (R-NV); Jeff Bingaman (D-NM); Charles Schumer (D-NY); Kent Conrad (D-ND); Ron Wyden (R-OR); Orrin Hatch (R-UT); Maria Cantwell (D-WA); Jay Rockefeller (D-WV)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Stat-Spotting: A Field Guide to Identifying Dubious Data

I heard an interview on Bob Edwards Weekend NPR show this morning with Joel Best. Best has written a book called
"Stat-Spotting: A Field Guide to Identifying Dubious Data." They talked a lot about how data and numbers are used for generating awareness for social causes. They spend a good chunk of time talking about how numbers have been and are used for poverty awareness in particular. It is worth a listen. I think this might be a good read for activists who would like to be aware of when they might not be hearing accurate figures or those who want to learn how to most effectively use data to get their point across. I picked up a few tips just in this interview which can be downloaded as a free podcast at
Here is their description of the interview...

"More than 97-percent of newspaper articles, TV shows, blogs and radio programs can't get through a topic without quoting a few statistics, and if you believe that tidbit, then you really need to listen to Bob's interview with JOEL BEST. He's a professor of Sociology and Criminal Justice at the University of Delaware and has created a guide for seeing through faulty statistics, with his book Stat-Spotting: A Field Guide to Identifying Dubious Data."