Monday, September 20, 2010

Action Alert: Virginia Governor Denies Teresa Lewis' Petition for Clemency

Virginia's Governor McDonnell denied Teresa Lewis' petition for clemency on September 17, 2010. Without your help, Teresa will die on September 23, 2010.

The time is NOW to take further action to save Teresa’s life. We are not giving up. Let Governor McDonnell know that he must reconsider his unjust and inhumane decision. Click on this button, which will take you directly to Governor McDonnell’s web page for receiving emails:

You may include your own text for your message to Governor McDonnell, or you may wish to include the following message:

Governor McDonnell, your decision to deny clemency completely ignores the fact that Teresa Lewis is borderline mentally retarded and had a dependent personality disorder, and that a life sentence was given to the man who has repeatedly stated that HE was the mastermind and that “The only reason I had sex with [Teresa] was for the money [and] to get her to ‘fall in love’ with me so she would give me the insurance money. . . . She was exactly what I was looking for.” Killing Teresa now, when this man was allowed to live, is so unfair and unjust that it cannot be permitted.
Or if you prefer: Call the Governor’s Office at 804-786-2211 and register your disapproval of his decision. Demand that Teresa be permitted to live.

(Note: Teresa's lawyer has made this request for assistance via email at noon on Monday, September 20 asking us to email and post this action alert to the PA NOW website).

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Poverty and Health Insurance

On September 16th, the US Census Bureau released their newest report entitled Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2009It paints a dark picture of women's and children's economic and health.  Here are a few highlights from the report:

Income Highlights
  • We now have the largest number of people living in poverty in the United States since we started measuring poverty levels.  That's 43.56 million people or 14.3% of the entire US population. 
  • Pennsylvania is better off than much of the rest of the country - our poverty rate stood at 11.1%.
  • More adult women (13.9%) than adult men (10.5%) are living in poverty.
  • The rate of poverty increased in all types of families - married couples, female-only headed households, and male-only headed households.
  • Over one-third of single-mother families (38.5%) are living in poverty - the highest level since 1998.
  • Women continue to earn only 77% on average of what men are earning.
Health Care Highlights
  • Data on the number of people with health care insurance was first collected in 1987.This is the first year that the number of people with health insurance decreased.
  • 16.7% or 50.7 million people in the US went without health insurance last year.
  • Significant increases in uninsured people occurred across all races except for people of Asian descent.
  • The percentage of people covered by employer-based health insurance decreased to 63.9% of the population - the lowest level since 1987 when this data was first collected.
  • The percentage of people covered by the government health insurance programs increased to 30.6% -this include Medicare, Medicaid, Veteran's Health Care, Military Health Care, and the Children's Health Insurance programs.
The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center has also put together 2-page summary of poverty and health insurance in Pennsylvania culled from Census Bureau data. We are doing slightly better than the rest of the country. But not much. Eleven percent of Pennsylvanians currently live in poverty and 12.4% of Pennsylvanians are uninsured. Like like the rest of the country, these numbers are still too high.

These numbers may have been even more dismal if we hadn't had the safety net built of the federal stimulus initiatives aimed at low-income earners and the extension of unemployment benefits.  According to a story aired today on NPR, these two programs alone "are credited with helping keep 3.3 million people out of poverty." 

These programs should be continued. And more can be done.  Congress needs to:

  1. Remove the tax cuts on families with incomes over $250,000. This will add more money to the budget so that we can infuse more funds into programs for the middle and lower income levels.  It will also help reduce the burden-producing debt of the current economy.
  2. Pass of the Paycheck Fairness Act.  It passed the House last year and is still awaiting a vote in the US Senate.  This Act will help reduce gender-based wage discrimination and allow women to be paid equitably. Implementation of this will will, over the long haul, reduce the wage gap between men and women.  
  3. Oppose Senator Mitch McConnell's proposed bill to eliminate the earned income tax credit for low income families.
  4. Allow states to create single-payer health care plans.  Pennsylvania's proposed plan, for example, would result in all people in the state receiving health care at an affordable level.  Everyone in.  Nobody out. If you are unemployed and living in poverty, you would still get health care. Details about this plan can be found here.
Please take action.  Contact your Senator's and let them know that we need to deal with these economic issues NOW.  We need to reduce the income inequities and make sure that all our families have a sustainable income.  These are first steps.  Let's make this happen.