Tag Archive for: child poverty


Over half of Mississippians struggling to pay household bills, the most in the nation.

FAA seeks to address string of near-collisions at US airports.

Poland, Slovakia to send Soviet-era jets to Ukraine.



Over half of Mississippians struggling to pay household bills, the most in the nation

A recent Household Pulse Survey by the Census Bureau found that more than half of Mississippians (52.9%) are struggling to pay typical household bills. This is the highest percentage in the nation and the only one over 50%. Mississippi narrowly edges out neighboring Alabama which came in second at 49.7% and far exceeds the national average of 39.7%. 

Over that same period (the week of Feb. 4-13), Mississippi was 5th in the nation at 48.6% among states whose residents fear eviction or foreclosure in the next two months. Mississippians also led in the category of householders that were unable to pay an energy bill in full in the last 12 months with 30.5%.

Median household income is the lowest in the nation at $46,637, far below the national average of $70,784. Recent data shows that Mississippi has the highest poverty rate in the nation with 19.07%.

State Republicans suddenly remember this is an election year

During the pandemic, states received millions in federal dollars to help people get through the economic downturn. Despite the great need, average Mississippians received far less help than people in other states. Instead, the state government decided to use this windfall to push for income tax cuts.

While income tax reduction is popular in the state (62%), the suspension of the state’s 7% grocery tax is far more popular (74%). Mississippi is one of the few states to tax groceries and has the highest rate of any of them. Grocery taxes disproportionately burden the poor while income tax cuts disproportionately benefit the wealthy. But the state’s Republican leadership hasn’t considered using the state’s surplus to cut grocery taxes, despite rising food costs. 

State legislators recently narrowly rejected proposals that would have eliminated income taxes in the state. This means the stalled bills likely won’t move forward in this year’s legislative session. However, House Ways and Means Chairman Trey Lamar said the bills’ failure was “more of a timing issue with some of these representatives as opposed to any real opposition to income tax elimination. Coming off the heels of last year’s income tax bill, and this being an election year, there are a few that would just prefer to wait a little longer before making further cuts”.

Reeves believes life begins at conception, but when does it end?

In a rare win for public welfare in the state, Gov. Reeves has just signed a bill to extend Medicaid coverage to new mothers and babies from 60 days after birth to 12 months.

Mississippi has some of the worst rates of infant mortality and maternal mortality in the country. Until Reeves signed this latest bill, Mississippi was the only state in the nation that had neither extended Medicaid coverage for new mothers nor expanded Medicaid eligibility overall. 

Reeves touted expanding Medicaid coverage for new moms and babies to 12 months as being in line with the state’s pro-life stance. However, Reeves was quick to remind us he still opposes expanding eligibility for Medicaid for low-income families under Obamacare. Maybe Reeves thinks life ends at 12 months?


FAA seeks to address string of near-collisions at US airports

So far in 2023, there have been at least nine near-collisions of commercial airplanes at eight US airports. That number may seems small in light of the fact that there are about 45,000 flights taking off each day. But when you consider the hundreds of lives put at risk each time, even one near-miss is unacceptable.

The circumstances vary in each case, but in some instances, the near-miss was the result of air traffic control clearing two planes to use the same runway. This was the case in the most dramatic near-collision in Austin, TX, in which a FedEx cargo plane came within 100 feet of a Southwest Airlines passenger plane. Controllers had cleared the FedEx plane to land on the same runway where the Southwest Airlines flight was taking off. In this case, it was the quick thinking of the FedEx pilot that averted disaster, rather than any action by air traffic control.  

On Wednesday, FAA held an emergency summit this week, its first in 14 years, to discuss the issue. The panel of aviation experts cited low staffing numbers at the FAA and a lack of experience among new hires as a major factor. The staffing issues come at the same time that US demand for air travel is surging, making accidents and near-accidents more likely.

It may also be significant that 8 of the 9 incidents took place after an outage of the FAA’s automated NOTAM (Notice to Air Missions) system which notifies pilots of potential hazards they may encounter during their flights. The NOTAM system went dark late in the night of Jan. 10 and grounded all flights in the US for two hours the following morning. An investigation found that the outage was the result of FAA contractors deleting files.

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Poland, Slovakia send Soviet-era jets to Ukraine

After nearly a year of requests from Kiev, Poland yesterday agreed to send about a dozen Soviet-era MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine. Today, Slovakia followed suit, promising 13 MiG-29s. At the time of Russia’s invasion last year, Ukraine had several dozen MiG-29s that it had retained following the collapse of the Soviet Union. It’s not clear how many of these remain in service over a year later.

According to Slovakia’s Defense Minister, the European Union is offering Slovakia 200 million euros ($213 million) in compensation for giving the jets to Ukraine. Slovakia will also receive $745 million in unspecified arms from the US, the minister said. There’s no reporting on whether Poland is receiving similar compensation for its pledge. However, Poland’s Defense Minister did mention that they would be replacing their MiGs with South Korean and American-made fighter jets.

The White House says it was informed of Poland’s decision before it was announced. Biden has long been under pressure to give Ukraine F-16s, a request the US has so far steadfastly refused. National Security advisor John Kirby neither endorsed nor condemned Poland and Slovakia’s decision, but said it would have no bearing on the US position on sending F-16s. 

Unlike F-16s, Ukraine’s fighter pilots require no additional training to fly MiG-29s. But maintaining them may pose a problem. Slovakia had previously grounded its MiG-29 fleet due to difficulties obtaining spare parts and the departure of Russian maintenance workers.

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Millions of families hope for return of expanded child tax credit. Former prosecutors: increasing likelihood Trump faces Jan. 6 charges. Putin recruits “foreign volunteers” to fight in Ukraine.




With $1.5T omnibus passed, millions of families hope for return of expanded child tax credit

From July to December of last year, the American Rescue plan increased the child tax credit (CTC) and delivered monthly payments to parents. It also expanded eligibility to families who normally don’t qualify for the CTC because they don’t make enough money. The monthly payments were a godsend for many struggling families. But in January, the month after the payments ended, the families of 3.7 million children who had temporarily lived above the poverty line fell right back into poverty again

The now-defunct Build Back Better bill would have made the increased benefit, broader eligibility and monthly payments permanent. If the increased total yearly benefits of $3600 per child 5 and younger and $3000 per child 6-17 had remained the same, the plan would have cost about $100 billion per year until 2025. But it likely would have also increased productivity since more mothers could have afforded to pay for childcare and enter or re-enter the workforce.

During his State of the Union address, President Biden called on Congress to revive the expanded CTC as a standalone bill. So far, there’s been no serious movement on that.

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Former prosecutors say likelihood of Trump facing criminal charges increasing

Several former federal prosecutors say it is becoming more likely that former President Trump will face criminal charges in connection with the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. The prosecutors were asked to comment on a recent court filing by the House Jan. 6 committee. In the filing, the committee challenged former Trump lawyer John Eastman’s refusal to turn over documents Eastman says are subject to attorney-client privilege. The committee filed a 61-page dossier detailing a “criminal conspiracy” between Trump and Eastman, which would void the protections of attorney-client privilege. 

After reviewing the dossier, former federal prosecutor Paul Pelletier said the Department of Justice could bring charges based on the evidence. “Given the gravity of the revelations”, Pelletier said, “the [DOJ] should consider a strike force or even a special counsel to coalesce sufficient resources to focus on these criminal attacks that strike at the heart of our democracy”.

The other prosecutors who reviewed the case seem to largely concur with this view. But however strong the evidence, it’s not certain by any means that the DOJ will charge Trump. Even if they did, the likelihood that such a case would be in court before the midterms is low. Bringing criminal charges against Trump would be a chaotic, time-consuming and divisive undertaking.

Trump’s suit against his rape accuser thrown out

In a separate case, Trump has lost his bid to sue a woman who has accused him of rape. Author E. Jean Carroll alleges that Trump raped her in the changing room of a Manhattan department store in the mid-90s. While Trump was still in office, Carroll sued Trump for defamation after he made disparaging comments about her and accused her of lying. Trump then attempted to countersue. But today, the judge in the case ruled that Trump’s countersuit was “in bad faith” and part of a delaying tactic.

In January, Carroll’s attorney said they would be seeking a DNA sample from Trump to test against a stain on a dress resulting from the assault.



Putin wants to recruit “foreign volunteers” to fight in Ukraine

Today, Vladimir Putin held a televised security council meeting with his defense minister Sergei Shoigu. During this meeting, Shoigu informed Putin that there were 16,000 “Middle Eastern volunteers” who wished to fight with Russian forces in Ukraine. It wasn’t clear where exactly the volunteers would be coming from, but the US has speculated that they could be Syrian. Putin asked Shoigu to make the necessary arrangements to bring them into the fight. Curiously, 16,000 just happens to be the exact number of “foreign legion” fighters Ukrainian President Zelensky claims to have recruited.

Fighting expands to western Ukraine

In a likely effort to head off incoming weapons and other Western aid to Ukraine, Russian forces have expanded their bombing campaign to the west. Previously, this part of Ukraine had been relatively quiet. Today, the cities of Lviv, Lutsk and Ivano-Frankivsk saw heavy shelling. This expansion also brings Russian forces and artillery dangerously close to borders Ukraine shares with Poland, a NATO country.

This is worrisome as there is an increased presence of NATO troops currently at the border. The Poles are also clearly spoiling for a fight, having twice proposed convoluted schemes to pass Soviet jets on to Ukraine. The White House and Pentagon rejected both these plans as “not tenable” since it would essentially mean involving NATO in the conflict and starting World War III.



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Days to prevent millions of kids from falling back into poverty. DeSantis demands $100k donations from state appointees. Super typhoon hits Philippines.




Congress has days to prevent millions of children from slipping back into poverty

Yesterday, the last monthly expanded child tax credit payments for the year went out. If Democrats cannot find a way forward to approve President Biden’s Build Back Better bill they may be the last, full stop.

The expanded credit went into effect in July. The expansion increased the amount of the yearly tax credit from $2000 per year per child 16 and under to $3600 per child under 6 and $300 per child 6-17. It also made the payments monthly in $300 or $250 increments rather than a yearly lump sum at tax return time. Some 2.3 million children whose families don’t make enough to file taxes also became eligible.

Even in the short time they’ve been available, the monthly payments have already helped lift millions of children out of poverty. By October, childhood poverty had already been reduced by 28% (about 3.6 million children). Data from August revealed that the average Child Tax Credit payments were highest in states that Donald Trump won in the 2020 election.

The Build Back Better act would extend the expanded benefits for another year. Congress has until December 28th to approve the bill to prevent there being any interruption in payments. The bill remains stalled in Congress, largely due to resistance from Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV).

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FL Gov. DeSantis demands $100k campaign donations to dole out state positions, contracts

A contender for the Democratic nomination in Florida’s governor’s race says Republican incumbent Gov. Ron DeSantis is demanding $100,000 in campaign donations from University of Florida trustees in exchange for renewing their appointments. Nikki Fried, Florida’s agriculture commissioner, hopes to challenge DeSantis in next year’s gubernatorial election.

Fried made the quid pro quo allegation against DeSantis during a virtual town hall earlier this week. “Our current boards of trustees across the state were required to give a campaign contribution to Ron DeSantis in the amount of $100,000,” Fried said. “And if they didn’t give him the campaign contribution, they were not reappointed to the boards”.

Fried declined to say how she had learned of this demand from DeSantis, citing a private conversation. However, Fried is not the first to accuse DeSantis of handing out lucrative state contracts or plum positions in exchange for contributions.

Handing out contracts or appointments to donors to a successful political campaign is a common and perfectly legal practice. Threatening to terminate contracts or appointments without a donation is neither usual nor legal.

DeSantis, a 2024 Republican presidential hopeful, is no stranger to strongarm tactics and more than usually shady fundraising practices.

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Philippines: 100,000 evacuated ahead of Typhoon Rai

A powerful category five typhoon struck the Philippines today. According to the Red Cross, Typhoon Rai is “one of the world’s strongest storms of 2021”. About 10,000 villages that are home to millions of people are in its path. Nearly 100,000 people were evacuated from vulnerable areas before the storm made landfall. The Philippine’s weather bureau predicted storm surges along the coast as well as flash flooding and landslides in mountainous areas.

Rai is the 15th typhoon to strike the Philippines this year. Due to its immense power, size, and accompanying windspeeds, it has been classified as a super typhoon.

Aid workers fear Rai may prove unusually destructive, even for a country accustomed to at least a dozen deadly typhoons each year. Richard Gordon of the Philippine Red Cross says, “Filipinos are tough but this Super Typhoon is a bitter blow for millions of people who are still recovering from devastating storms, floods and COVID-19 in the past year”.

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