10 things we’re thankful for this Thanksgiving, despite all
Thanksgiving is upon us once again. This year, gathering with family and friends of different political perspectives will prove harder for some of us than in years past. Even more strongly in this difficult time of transition, we are mindful of the millions who can’t afford a big feast or a warm home in which to host it. We’ll be fighting for them harder than ever in the weeks and months to come. Despite the struggles ahead of us, we know that we have many, many things to be thankful for this year. Here are just a few of them:
- We’re thankful the official poverty rate is down, median household income is up, and the percentage of uninsured Americans is lower than it has ever been in the history of our nation. The 1.2 percentage point decrease in the poverty rate from 2014 to 2015 represents the largest annual percentage point drop in poverty since 1999, and this was the first annual increase in median household income since 2007, the year before the Great Recession of 2008. Our thankfulness is muted: with 43 million Americans in poverty, more work needs to be done.
- We’re thankful for President Obama and his Administration for putting forth policy changes to reduce inequality, like the Department of Labor’s new overtime protections that would benefit millions of low- and middle-income workers. We’re extremely concerned, however, that a federal judge has temporarily halted this rule, which was scheduled to take effect December 1, and that Congress and the new Administration seem bent on overturning the rule. We’re also thankful for champions in Congress who work to reduce inequity and stand up against bad legislation.
- We’re thankful for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and its work to end predatory payday lending practices that target low-income Americans and communities of color and trap borrowers in a cycle of debt. Since its founding in 2011, the CFPB has fielded more than 1 million consumer complaints about the policies and practices of the nation’s financial institutions, and the agency’s enforcement actions have resulted in $11.7 billion in relief and refunds to customers. Unfortunately, the CFPB has been under attack from Republicans in Congress since its creation, and it faces an embattled future under the new Trump Administration.
- We’re thankful for advocates who show how policies affect real people, like LaJuana Clark, who shared her story of homelessness, Tianna Gaines-Turner, who provided testimony for Speaker Ryan’s hearing on poverty, these amazing people who spoke at a hearing on the failure of trickle-down economics, the Flint Five and others. Through their stories, they remind our leaders that real human beings with complex struggles make up the poverty, hunger and inequality statistics, and their needs must be addressed.
- We’re thankful for our basic safety net programs, especially SNAP/food stamps, Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, Medicaid, unemployment insurance, and the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit, which keep millions out of poverty, are better for the economy and have positive outcomes for children and families. You can believe that we’ll fight with everything we have to protect these programs from cuts and harmful programmatic changes in the year ahead.
- We’re thankful, especially on this food-centered holiday, for the food banks that serve the 1 in 6 American households struggling with food hardship and for all our friends who work tirelessly on the ground to directly serve our low-income and disadvantaged neighbors.
- We’re thankful for voters in four states and at least one city who voted on Election Day to support minimum wage increases; for voters in California and Washington State who approved gun control measures; and for voters in Arizona and Washington State who approved paid sick time protections for workers.
- We’re thankful for our member organizations who continue to support CHN and whose great work we cite in regular Resources from Around the Coalition posts to help us all do our work better; the many state partners who worked with us to release state poverty data reports, raising awareness of poverty and policy solutions in their states; the hundreds of local, state, and national organizations who are a part of our SAVE for ALL campaign (click here to sign the new SAVE for All letter and petition for individuals now!); our friends who supported our Human Needs Hero event; and for our community who gathers regularly in DC at CHN’s Friday Advocates’ Meetings to share information and actions.
- We’re thankful for all of our guest bloggers, who shared pieces on homelessness, immigration, payday lending, low-income tax credits, lead poisoning, SNAP, youth in federal prison, the safety net, Black Lives Matter, what works to reduce poverty, the Affordable Care Act and more. We’re also thankful for those who cross-posted our blog pieces, including MomsRising, the Pennsylvania Council of Churches, Franciscans for Justice and others, for helping to spread the word about the many important issues covered on our blog.
- Most of all, we’re thankful for all of you for taking action on our action alerts, following and sharing our posts on Facebook and Twitter, writing op-eds and letters to editors, participating in our webinars, Twitter storms and tweetchats, sharing our Human Needs Reports, national and state poverty reports and our emails with friends, donating to CHN, and for subscribing, reading, sharing and commenting on the blog.
We know it will be a challenging year ahead for us all, which is why our work is even more important. We’ve written about Head Smackers before, and the new Administration and Congress are likely to be concussive sources. We do need to call them on lies, half-truths, hypocrisies, and unfounded claims. We’ll continue to arm you with our Facts of the Week so you’ll have the data on your side. We all need to be in this fight together, now more than ever.
Thanks again for reading. We wish you a restorative Thanksgiving. Much work to do ahead.