It’s Shark Week. No, not the Discovery Channel’s homage to the denizens of the deep, but rather the annual media storm from consumer advocates who oppose the predatory lending practices of so-called payday lenders. Now, new research shows that women take out 60 percent of payday loans in order to make up for being laid off or having their hours cut, or to deal with health care expenses … Read the rest
In a painstakingly detailed investigation, the Bangor Daily News (BDN) has pulled back the curtain, exposing the LePage administration’s maneuvering to undermine the federally funded Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program, “the federal government’s primary mechanism for delivering cash assistance and work support to low-income families with children.” The BDN found that the administration’s effort includes spending $7.8 million “in ways that run afoul of federal … Read the rest
More than seven out of ten Americans want stronger regulation to rein in the predatory practices of payday lenders according to a survey released on June 15.
Payday lenders make small, short-term, unsecured loans at exorbitant interest rates (some as high as 400 percent or more) that usually come due within a few weeks after receipt of the loan. Unlike traditional bank and mortgage lenders, current federal lending … Read the rest
The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) today released state employment numbers for May, revealing that Maine was among the majority of states which experienced no statistically-significant change since April in the number of people employed in the state. Unlike residents of most states, however, Mainers are still waiting for employment levels to recover to pre-recession levels. The estimated number of individuals employed in Maine technically fell by … Read the rest
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities President Robert Greenstein responded swiftly on Tuesday when US House Speaker Paul Ryan announced his long awaited plan for combating poverty, “A Better Way: Our Vision for a Confident America,” calling it “silent on the discrepancy between [Speaker Ryan’s] call to fight poverty and the House GOP’s own budget priorities.”
Greenstein noted that Republican budget proposals “would cut programs for low- … Read the rest
The Pew Research Center recently released a report, America’s Shrinking Middle Class, examining the relative proportion of lower-, middle-, and upper-income populations in 229 of the nation’s metro areas. Their findings make for gloomy reading — between 2000 and 2014, the proportion of urban Americans in middle-income households shrank from 55% to 51%. This is a troubling trend, as middle-class Americans are a foundation of … Read the rest
LePage administration’s crusade against food stamps hurts the economy; does nothing to help the poor
A new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) provides further confirmation of a depressing trend—hundreds of thousands of Mainers remain impoverished and food insecure. The LePage administration’s solution? To deny these individuals access to important programs like the federally-funded Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps). In 2014, Maine began imposing strict work requirements on SNAP recipients, which reduced the number of enrolled adults… Read the rest
Just when you thought Congress has finally gotten something right, they disappoint once again.
I am talking about the national school meal programs. Congress assumed correctly that if more than 40% of students in a school automatically qualified for free or reduced lunch, there were likely a lot more hungry kids besides those enrolled in the program. And in 2014, under the community eligibility provision of the Healthy Hunger-Free … Read the rest
Workers without children – including non-custodial parents (who do not have custody of their children for the purposes of their tax filing) – are the only taxpayers that the federal tax code pushes into or deeper into poverty. Lawmakers in both parties agree the problem needs a fix and even agree on how to do it. Republicans and Democrats have similar proposals to fix the existing gap in the Earned … Read the rest
“It sounds absurd, but the Chinese plan is more sensible, more cost-effective and much less draconian than the Legislature’s bill for solar power.”
Governor Paul LePage radio address, April 20, 2016
Governor Paul LePage’s most recent attack on solar energy in Maine invoked an unlikely partner for the conservative chief executive – the Chinese Communist Party. The governor cited China’s plan for carbon emissions reduction following his veto of a … Read the rest