TPM Cafe: Opinion

There are few things I loathe more than moving, and many other young people feel the same way. But for 26 year-old Allison M., the decision to move from Arkansas to Colorado was especially difficult. I've known Allison since I was 6 years old. In what should have been great news, Allison's boyfriend of three years was offered a great new job in Denver. You might ask, who doesn't love the Rockies? But for Allison, the decision to move was more than about location, it was about health and economic security.

Before her move, having health care coverage was never really a worry for Alison because she--like 3 million other young adults--was able to stay on her parents' health insurance plan thanks to the Affordable Care Act. But now, Allison has to live in constant fear because the new restaurant she works at does not offer health insurance benefits.

Allison's experience is not unique. In fact, only one in two young adults get insurance through the traditional employer system. This is precisely why young people stand the most to gain today as the new health insurance marketplaces created under the Affordable Care Act open and 6-month enrollment period begins.

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"I would certainly like to prevent, if I could legally, anybody having an abortion: a rich woman, a middle class woman, or a poor woman. Unfortunately, the only vehicle available is the [Medicaid] bill," former Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL) said as he put forward signature legislation still bearing his name, the Hyde Amendment. It's in large part due to Rep. Hyde that funds like the DC Abortion Fund (DCAF) exist.

The Hyde Amendment bans federal money from being used to pay for abortion care, meaning that any woman who has Medicaid as her insurance, or other groups like federal employees and Peace Corps volunteers, do not have coverage for an abortion should they need one, except in cases of rape, incest or to save her life. Abortion is the only medical procedure that is treated in this way. Since its passage, it has been estimated that more than a million women have been denied care.

Today marks the the 37th anniversary of the vote to pass the Hyde Amendment in Congress. By barring federal funding, Hyde has a disproportionate impact on low-income women, women of color and young women, creating often insurmountable obstacles. Indeed, restricting Medicaid coverage of abortion forces one in four poor women to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term. That we can claim to be the land of opportunity while forcing women into unwanted pregnancies, is disconcerting to say the least.

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There is a new generation of activists rising up and they are looking for leaders who are bold, for champions who are unafraid to buck convention and stand up for what is right. They want elected officials to address their needs and the needs of their communities. They want action not platitudes. And opposing the Hyde Amendment, believe it or not, just might give lawmakers that opening.

The Hyde Amendment, a law that withholds Medicaid coverage for abortion care from low-income women, turns 37 today. Spurred by the purported rationale that taxes should not go toward abortion, the measure has not only been expanded over the course of nearly four decades to deny abortion coverage to virtually any woman who receives health insurance or care from the government; it has become one of the most entrenched policies of all time.

Conventional wisdom deems any challenge to the Hyde Amendment dead on arrival, a political nonstarter. After all, the thinking goes, mix the issue of abortion with taxes and you have a potentially radioactive (Molotov?) cocktail.

But it is time for conventional wisdom to change. It is time for Members of Congress who support abortion rights to work to lift all limits on insurance coverage for abortion care. And here is why.

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For her incredible portrayal of Skyler White, the wife of the antihero Walter White on the hit show Breaking Bad, Anna Gunn won a well-deserved Emmy last week. I'm glad she got recognition for a sterling acting performance. But perhaps even more deserving than Gunn is the show's creator Vince Gilligan and his team of writers for creating such a compelling character. Skyler may be "the most fully realized female character in the history of American TV," one fan went so far as to write on Facebook.

Gilligan and his team have given fans, and women in particular, many reasons to celebrate the character of Skyler White. Smart, complex, bold yet vulnerable, she is the kind of dynamic and realistic woman that isn't portrayed often enough on TV.

So I find it all the more puzzling and disheartening that a contingent of Breaking Bad fans hate Skyler White. Hating on Skyler White became an Internet meme rife with posters calling her a bitch and a "Fuck Skyler White" Facebook page that received nearly 30,000 likes. The phenomenon drove Gunn to write an op-ed for the New York Times arguing that her character had became a "flash point for many people's feelings about strong, nonsubmissive, ill-treated women."

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Cruz does not like Obamacare
He doesn't like to care or share
He doesn't want to help the poor
He wants the rich to just have more
He likes to bully folks around
His own voice is his favorite sound
If Dr. Seuss had met Ted Cruz
He'd tell him, "Ted, I hope you lose."

Senator Ted Cruz has egg on his face. Green egg.

On Tuesday, during his 21-hour marathon filibuster against Obamacare, he read aloud to his daughters back home the Dr. Seuss book "Green Eggs and Ham." But he clearly missed its message.

In the Seuss tale, Sam-I-Am, a lover of green eggs and ham, tries to convince a friend to try them. But the man resists. He resists so persistently and so adamantly that he ends up sounding a lot like the Republicans on Capitol Hill who are determined to defund Obama's health care reforms. But in the Seuss story, the man is finally convinced to try the offending eggs and ham and, much to his surprise, he loves them.

If only the GOP would take a page from that book.

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Oct. 1 of this year will mark the beginning of yet another Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but most people will be unaware that it will also mark another year of funding cuts to breast cancer research. While some lawmakers are calling to defund Obamacare, the slow defunding of the American research enterprise has already begun. If the U.S. Congress can even manage to pass a continuing resolution budget to avoid a government shutdown, this will probably lock in the federal budget at current levels. That level of funding includes the now notorious across-the-board cuts known as "the sequester."

The sequester was supposed to be so draconian that it would drive politicians to accept some alternative budget compromise. Unfortunately compromise seems to be a dirty word in Washington, and it has become almost dogma for some that any government spending is inherently wrong and should be opposed on principle. But does that really extend to scientific biomedical research that can save lives?

Some types of government spending are crucial and necessary. These investments include not only breast cancer research, but all avenues of basic scientific research funded by agencies such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation (NSF) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Private industry rarely funds very basic research because it needs a return on investment within two to five years at the most. The government is the only entity with enough patience and deep enough pockets to fund long-term basic research. Private foundations are not even in the same league in dollar amounts. The entire research budgets of charities such as Komen for the Cure ($75M) and the American Cancer Society ($160M) combined are less than the 5 percent sequester cut to the $4.8 billion National Cancer Institute budget.

The biggest breakthroughs, the fundamental advances that enable the development of new cancer drugs for leukemia or melanoma or triple-drug cocktails that keep HIV in check, come from scientists working not in private industry, but at universities, nonprofit research institutions and government labs that are funded by these agencies, and ultimately by the American taxpayer.

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I recently met Jonathan Ross, a single father trying to support his daughter on $10,000 a year. Jonathan works at a cafe at the Smithsonian American History Museum, a federal building that houses an exhibit on the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Like those who marched in 1963, Jonathan is standing up for his family and all workers who deserve decent pay for a full day's work. This week, hundreds of workers like Jonathan went on strike at federally owned buildings around D.C., refusing to be ignored any longer. They called for a living wage and a voice on the job. They're standing up because they want to support their families and give their children a chance at a better future. President Barack Obama should take executive action to help working families. During a recent speech on the economy, the president said we should focus on increasing wages. "We have to make the investments necessary to attract good jobs that pay good wages and offer high standards of living." But you might be surprised to find out that the largest low-wage job producer in America isn't some big corporation--it's Uncle Sam.

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The highly-anticipated annual list features a collection of the top African-American influencers between the ages of 25 and 45 who are boldly breaking new ground in their respective fields, and impacting American society with their accomplishments. The Root's editorial team calculated the rankings of the nominees using data from Lexis Nexis, Google, and Twitter to determine their level of influence or influence score. With over 800 names submitted, the team ranked leading names by combining their influence score with a substance score for their contributions to their communities and professions.

The following are the top elected officials and political operatives from The Root 100 list. To see the full list, click here.

Elected Officials:

Corey Booker (No.2)

Kasim Reed (No.10)

Nina Turner (No.47)

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[Ed. note: The following post is republished from the New York Public Library as part of its series on Banned Books Week.]

Our next title under the microscope during Banned Books week is the canonical nonsense tale of Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss. "I do not like them, Sam-I-am, I do not like green eggs and ham." The People's Republic of China most notably concurred with this key mantra of Dr. Seuss's Green Eggs and Ham. Beginning in 1965, it was forbidden to read Green Eggs and Ham in Maoist China because of its "portrayal of early Marxism," and the ban was not lifted until author Theodor Seuss Geisl's death in 1991.

First published in 1960, this whimsical book of rhyme aimed at encouraging children to try new things was great for early readers because it conveyed this complex message while using less than 50 words. Through repetition of simple words, protagonist Sam-I-Am insistently implores his nameless counterpart to try the book's eponymous dish (in a box with a fox, with a goat in a boat), who stubbornly refuses to taste the verdant breakfast. A bargain is finally struck between the debating characters; Sam's bedraggled friend will taste the meal if Sam-I-Am agrees to finally leave him alone. Lo and behold, Sam's friend discovers that he not only likes green eggs and ham, but he can't wait to eat them in all the scenarios Sam-I-Am had been suggesting all along.

In addition to the decades-long suppression of Green Eggs and Ham in Communist China, Yertle the Tertle (1958) has recently crawled back onto banned book lists; in April 2012 the Prince Rupert School District in British Columbia, CA removed the book from schools because it violated a school ban on political messages for the line "I know up on top you are seeing great sights, but down here at the bottom, we too should have rights." The Lorax (1972) similarly raised the ire of a community in California because of its portrayal of loggers as being environmentally unfriendly.

Dr. Seuss himself admitted that as an author he was "subversive as hell," and did not want to write stories about modeling good behavior for children. His books encouraged standing up to authority while comically illustrating the consequences of fear-based thinking--bold ideas that have made a Grinch out of those opposed to instilling such attitudes in children.

Liberman is a senior librarian at the New York Public Library's Mulberry Branch.

"Stock Photo: United States - Circa 1999: A Postage Stamp Printed In USA Showing An Image Of The Cat Character From The Book The Cat In The Hat Written By Dr. Seuss, Circa 1999." on Shutterstock.

Last week, a phony story supposedly from the writers of Playboy magazine asserted that the publication had scrapped its annual college party school rankings piece for a commentary on improving consent. According to the viral hoax, Playboy's mission was the stuff anti-rape advocates dream of. "Consent is all about everyone having a good time," the fake story instructed.

It's easy to see why the Playboy hoax was so appealing. The gold standard of consent says that each one of us consistently consents to events, transactions and interactions -- which in real life aren't always so clear. The Playboy hoax highlights the idea that in popular culture we tend to only contemplate consent -- and what it really means -- when we hear about the really terrifying instances of what is clearly rape and not in our day-to-day sexual lives.

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