A message to the fed up: Why you should vote
This is for you, advocates for meeting human needs who have been distressed and turned off by the tenor of the election campaigns nationwide:
As previously noted, the Coalition on Human Needs has tax-exempt status, and cannot take positions on candidates. But we can encourage you to consider the positions of candidates on issues that we believe are extremely important to our nation’s future.
We have already written about differences in tax policy, because they say so much about candidates’ priorities. Where candidates come down on tax cuts or increases, and for whom, tells us whether they would worsen or reduce inequality and whether they will take the responsible path of securing revenues from fair sources in order to pay for the investments and services we need, or whether massive tax cuts will force either ballooning deficits or untenable service cuts. (See part 1 and part 2 of our tax pieces.)
But there are other issues, of course. All of these are important to consider when choosing candidates at all levels. Here are a few, not in any particular order:
- The Minimum Wage: Who supports an increase; who doesn’t? The federal minimum wage is still $7.25 an hour – everyone knows this is woefully inadequate. Yes, many states have raised their own minimum wages, but some of the states with the highest numbers of low-income people, notably in the South, are the least likely ever to raise the minimum wage on their own. Without a federal increase, their people stay poor.
- Poverty and Hunger Reduction: Which candidates have policies most likely to reduce poverty and hunger? Much of the above will apply, but also paid leave policies, subsidized housing, increases in child nutrition and SNAP…
- Racial Justice: Who is most likely to address criminal justice disparities, create paths towards employment for ex-offenders, continue the work of the Obama Administration towards better standards and transparency for police practices, and target economic assistance to low-income communities of color?
- More Child Care for Low/Moderate-Income Families: Both presidential candidates have understood the importance of child care and have proposals. That’s good, but proposals that focus on non-refundable tax credits will channel most of the aid to families with higher incomes. Which candidates favor an increase in child care vouchers for low/moderate-income families as an important part of their approach to child care? Vouchers assist families month after month, instead of making them wait for a tax refund (if they qualify for one) at one time in the year.
- More Funding for Education for Preschool through College: These funds are mostly appropriated annually, and appropriations have been subject to cuts year after year because of budget caps. Education funds have been affected. Which candidates will ease the budget caps for domestic priorities? Which candidates have a plan for increasing aid to college students and easing student debt? Who supports universal pre-k?
- More Investments in Infrastructure – Physical and Human: Which candidates have credible plans to increase spending on roads, bridges, public buildings, and energy sources, and also on education and training, and health care, teaching, and other caregiving jobs that form part of the backbone of an economy that spreads prosperity broadly? “Credible plans” means more than just an assertion of a big dollar amount; does the amount proposed square with the means of paying for it? (We support a certain amount of deficit spending, but there are limits.)
- Adequate Response to National Emergencies: We have an epidemic of opioid misuse; Zika threatens babies; lead poisoning in water supplies and in housing causes serious and preventable harm to children’s health and development; People hit by floods and other natural disasters also need help. Who is most likely to fund and effectively manage these responses?
- Immigration Reform: We need the means for legalization of immigrants who are part of our communities, including a path to citizenship. Who supports this?
If you don’t think there’s substantial difference among candidates on these issues, I respectfully suggest you haven’t been paying attention. Check out the websites of the only two candidates with a chance of winning: Trump-Pence and Clinton-Kaine.