Trump Administration's Continuing Overhaul of Obama Era Policies

Friday Education Secretary Betsy DeVos along with the Department of Education announced that they will rescind Gainful Employment regulations.

This program began in 2014, as a way to help college students with the burden of rising student loans and lack of employment opportunities after college.  Under this program, public and private universities would need to show how the degree or degrees that students are pursuing would lead to “Gainful Employment (GE),” or they would risk losing their Title IV eligibility for three years.

 To show GE, colleges and universities would have to provide two metrics: 1) debt-to-earnings (D/E) metric, and 2) a program cohort default rate metric.  Under the first, metric students can not spend more than 8% of their income or 20% of discretionary income on student loans.  Under the second metric, institutions base this calculation on a few internal factors – these factors can vary among the different institutions – and if they want to use a two or four-year cohort period.

The steps that the Department of Education took in 2014 leveled the playing field among institutions of higher learning.  Colleges and Universities were now being held accountable on how well they saw to their students needs.  Students were no longer being stuck with a high student loan bill, without any hope of gainful employment after college. Because the success of the students was now being directly tied to the federal aid given to the University. 

Secretary DeVos is leading the charge to rescind this policy.  We must ask ourselves, if she is over the Department of Education then why is she promoting new policy that only helps the one percent? 

We must remember that Secretary DeVos is a billionaire.  Her kids never went to public schools, she never went to a public school, and before becoming Secretary, she was not involved in education.  Rescinding this policy would have no affect on her or her kids.  The Secretary’s kids would not receive federal funds to attend college, therefore they would not be apart of the GE cohort metric. 

What is the Secretary’s purpose?  The Secretary has the same purpose as her boss, President Trump.  The President’s Administration has had only one goal, and that is to undo any regulations that was performed by the previous administration, without any regards as to how it affects others.

The one thing that the President and Secretary DeVos has in common is that they’re both billionaires.  This author isn’t saying that there is something inherently wrong with being a billionaire, however when you’re a billionaire who has done nothing for individuals that are less fortunate than yourself, then we shouldn’t expect you to suddenly care for the same individuals when you are put into a position of power.

 This rescinding of another Obama-Era policy should stop. Students go to college and amass debt so they can be able to live and lead a better life.  To rescind this policy would no longer make these institutions accountable for their actions.  Institutions of Higher Learning would once again take no interest in the success of the student but continue to see him or her as a monetary figure, while they raise the costs of tuition another year.

Secretary DeVos has done so much for our kids, that she needs to do it from home in 2020.

If we don’t send a message to President Trump and his administration this fall, by electing an overwhelming majority of Democrats to the House and getting a majority in the Senate, then in 2020 when we get a Democratic President, we still would have accomplished nothing.

Written by Mozella Bell, Louisana FDW

America's Turn from Democracy

We often hear the quote from Aesop, “A person is known by the company he keeps.” Or, we might have quoted the old proverb, “Birds of a feather flock together.”  Some have often used these similar quotes to categorize various individuals, basing his or her choice of friends for that individual’s current or future actions.  For example: If a person has friends that are thieves, then it is likely assumed they might partake in thievery also.  These two quotes also have a direct reference to guilty by association.  We have witnessed the affect that this has on individuals, but what does that mean when it’s applied to a country?

President Trump recently met with Kim Jong Un, Putin, and has had various talks with the leader of China.  Some individuals would argue that true democracy welcomes diplomacy.  This is true, but diplomacy should not come at the price of democracy. 

Let’s look at the events leading up to President Trump’s historic meeting, with the leaders of the communist countries.  President Trump signed out of the Paris deal, rolled back environmental policies, tried to repeal the affordable care act, stopped immigrants from entering the country based on religion, forcibly removed children from families, attacked the press, ect. 

In addition to what the President has done in America, he has also managed to alienate our closest allies.  We didn’t call them allies because they helped with a few wars.  We call them allies because we believe in a free society, a democracy that is representative of the will of the people, a place where everyone is equal, and a better future to leave for the next generations.  Therefore, we called them allies, but above all we called them friends. 

America held the banner of what a true and prosperous democracy can look like, for all nations to follow.  America became that city upon a hill, that the world looked to for guidance.  This is also why other nations associated themselves with us.  They knew that being associated with America meant that you too believed in the same views and values.  After all a person, as well as a nation, is known by the company he keeps.

However, President Trump’s recent actions has called into question what America now stands for and represents.   When we disassociate and alienate the countries that best represent us and our standing, in lieu of countries that do not share in the same beliefs and values we hold dear to us, then what does that say about America to the rest of the world.

The President may not see or care about what is happening to America’s stance on democracy, but we should.  To the President, what he’s doing with the trade wars and severing ties with our allies, this is just another business deal.  We should remind the President that the deal of America isn’t about increasing the wealth of the few, but the well-being of the many.  The founding fathers established a system of checks and balances so one branch of government does not become more powerful than the other branch.    

This Fall we need to send a message to the President that America is a country established for the people and by the people.  This Fall we need to send a message to our allies that our democracy is not for sale.  This Fall when we cast our votes, we cast our votes for the people, for democracy, and for America.

Written by Mozella Bell, Louisana FDW

The President's Travel Ban and It's Effect on America

Today the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the controversial travel ban issued by President Trump.  This ruling upholds restrictions limiting entry to America from individuals that reside in the following countries: Somalia, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Yemen, and Venezuela[1]  The purpose of the President’s ban was to protect America from threats to our National Security against the countries that are likely to do us harm.

This purpose sounds great in theory, because no country would want to experience a 9/11 attack.  The countries on the list seem to be the ones that are prone to violence. However, they are not the ones involved in the 9/11 attacks. Those attacks were mainly carried out by individuals from Saudi Arabia.[2]  If 9/11 was the President’s motivation for the travel ban and Saudi Arabia was not included in the list of countries, the question then becomes why these countries and what do they have in common?

The underlying commonality these countries have – except North Korea and Venezuela – is their religion.  These are predominately Muslim countries, and this is why this travel ban is controversial.  To ban a citizen from another country based on religion, is a sharp turn for a country that was founded on freedom from religious persecution.

In the President’s America we are a country that values immigrants of our choosing, and those immigrants must have the right pedigree and the right religion.  The President has not been bashful about immigrants that he doesn’t agree with.  A New York Times article has cited the President saying in a cabinet meeting, “…. Haitians ….all have AIDS, as well as Nigerians, who …would never go back to their huts,…”  The President also tweeted, “The Democrats seem intent on having people and drugs pour into our country from the Southern Border; risking thousands of lives in the process.”[3]  The stance the President has made on the countries he personally has negative feelings about, was upheld by Chief Justice John Roberts when he wrote, “…presidents have substantial power to regulate immigration,” and “….restricting entry of aliens who could not be vetted with adequate information was in the national interests.”  The problem with this last statement is, who decides what the adequate information is?

This is not the first time the Supreme Court has made unjust rulings that gave rise to unjust laws.  If we look at Plessy vs. Ferguson (1896) – which established separate but equal – this ruling gave rise to Black Code, Jim Crow, and other numerous unjust laws.  Although Plessy vs. Ferguson was not overturned, it wasn’t until 1954 in Brown vs. Board of Education that the Supreme Court saw their error in separation – because separation doesn’t make you equal it makes one group feel superior towards another group. 

This policy is a form of Plessy vs. Ferguson all over again.  The Superior Country denies entry to the Inferior Country based solely on religion or how the President personally feels about those individuals.  Although America has come a long way from the days of separation based on skin color, the damage to the fabric of America has been done, and we are still trying to sew the pieces back together.  This policy can undo everything that we as Americans have fought so hard, in the hopes of moving forward together.

We are not making America Great, we are making America Worse.  The only way to fight unjust laws is through just actions.  It’s time that we show this administration that we are not in the GOP’s America, nor are we in Trump’s America.  It’s time that we truly had an America that was for all the people, and by the people.  This is Democracy, and this is what the Democrats are fighting for.

Written by Mozella Bell, Louisiana FDW

[1] National Security and Defense, “Presidential Proclamation Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry Into the United States by Terrorist or Other Public – Safety Threats,” 24 Sept 2017, https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/presidential-proclamation-enhancing-vetting-capabilities-processes-detecting-attempted-entry-united-states-terrorists-public-safety-threats/

[2] Pamela Engel, “Trump’s immigration ban doesn’t include the country most of the 9/11 hijackers came from,” Business Insider, 30 Jan 2017, http://www.businessinsider.com/trumps-muslim-ban-saudi-arabia-911-2017-1

[3] Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, and Thomas Kaplan, “Trump Alarms Lawmakers With Disparaging Words for Haiti and Africa,” The New York Times, 11 Jan 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/11/us/politics/trump-shithole-countries.html

 

The Impact of President Trump's Immigration Policy, June 18, 2018

Most of us have seen the pictures, the news stories, and have read the articles about the President’s “zero-tolerance” stance at the border and how he’s doing this to secure America.  But what is not being said is that, using force does not strengthen America but weakens it.

The President’s campaign slogan was, “Make America Great Again.”  However, America’s greatness did not come from its military strength but its people.  This is a country founded on immigration, and its ability to be inclusive towards all people.  When we stray away from that principle, our country finds itself in turmoil. 

In the President’s speech Monday he stated, “Immigration is the … Democrats' fault,” and “The United States will not be a migrant camp, and it will not be a refugee holding facility.”[1] However, when an administration issues a zero-tolerance policy that separates immigrant families into separate cages – without any compassion for human decency - until that administration decides to let them go, then we just became the very definition of a migrant camp and a refugee holding facility.  Republicans currently control both houses of Congress and the Presidency, yet the current administration wants everyone to believe that this is fault of Democrats, when they are the ones who issued the zero-tolerance policy.

Since its announcement there are over 2100 children being detained at facilities in Texas and that number is growing.[2]  When families are separated it has a physical and psychological impact not only on the families but also the communities.  “Forced family separation has been condemned as harmful, inhumane, and counter to accepted human rights…”[3] 

In America we see the impact it has on a child growing up in poverty with a single parent household.  Now think about if that same child had his/her parent taken away from him and he/she was forced to live in a cage, with other kids like him/her.  No warnings that this was going to happen, no way to prepare for the effect this experience would have on his/her life. 

When the family unit is abruptly dismantled the children no longer feel safe and secure.  They begin to develop a fight or flight mentality.  Whereas, the children who are in a family unit – regardless of economic background – develop a sense of morality and a form of stability.

The actions of this administration have made a rift in the families of the immigrants and it has made a rift in what it means to be an American.  America needs to be that light upon a hill again.  America needs to be the leader of hope, opportunity, and inspiration to the world once again.  We can no longer afford to move backwards, while the world continues to move forwards.  Finally, as Americans we can no longer be silent while this administration destroys what we stand for.     

by Mozella Bell, Louisana Federation of Democratic Women

[1] Tim Hains, “President Trump: ‘The United States Will Not Be A Migrant Camp,’ ‘Not On My Watch’,”  Real Clear Politics 18 June 2018 https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2018/06/18/president_trump_the_united_states_will_not_be_a_migrant_camp.html 

[2] Michael E. Miller, Emma Brown, Aaron Davis, “Inside Casa Padre, the converted Walmart where the US is holding nearly 1,500 immigrant children,”  The Washington Post, 14 June 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/inside-casa-padre-the-converted-walmart-where-the-us-is-holding-nearly-1500-immigrant-children/2018/06/14/0cd65ce4-6eba-11e8-bd50-b80389a4e569_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.afe9f8862e3c

[3]   Kevin Loria, “Separating Kids from parents at the border mirrors a ‘textbook strategy’ of domestic abuse, experts say – and causes irreversible lifelong damage,” Business Insider, 16 June 2018, http://www.businessinsider.com/psychological-effects-of-separating-immigrant-kids-and-parents-2018-6