FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: MAY 23, 2017 || Contacts: Jan Kruse (jkruse(at)nclc.org), (617) 542-8010 or Lauren Saunders (lsaunders(at)nclc.org), (202) 595-7845
Trump calls for elimination of Legal Services Corp and home energy assistance; slashes programs that benefit struggling students
(WASHINGTON) The budget released by President Trump today calls for the elimination of programs that have bipartisan support, save homes from foreclosure, help rural families, and protect seniors, struggling families, and veterans, according to advocates at the National Consumer Law Center. “Legal services programs serving urban and rural areas in every state around the country are there to help seniors, struggling families, and veterans when they need legal help to save their homes from foreclosure, protect the Social Security funds they need to buy food, or stop domestic violence.” said Rich DuBois, executive director of the National Consumer Law Center.
“This is a reverse Robin Hood budget, taking from working families to give tax cuts to the super rich. When Wall Street bankers wrecked our economy and used robo-signed paperwork to kick people out of their homes, legal services programs were there to give people a fighting chance. In the words of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, the Legal Services Program ‘pursues the most fundamental of American ideals, and it pursues equal justice in those areas of life most important to the lives of our citizens,’” added Lauren Saunders, associate director of the National Consumer Law Center.
Many programs funded by the Legal Services Program (LSC) give special help to military members and veterans, including through StatesideLegal.org. “Our military and veterans will suffer if we eliminate legal services programs that serve those who serve us,” Saunders noted.
LSC has broad bipartisan support. The elimination of LSC is opposed by the heads of over 150 law firms in all 50 states, 185 leaders of corporate legal departments, the Conference of Chief Justices and the Conference of State Court Administrators.
The proposed budget would also eliminate the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), the Weatherization Assistance Program, and Community Service Block Grants,, which protect the health and safety of families with seniors, young children, and individuals with disabilities in all 50 states. “LIHEAP literally saves lives by helping working families in all 50 states. LIHEAP helps families in Wisconsin keep the heat on in the winter and fragile seniors in Mississippi avoid heat stroke in the summer,” said Olivia Wein, National Consumer Law Center staff attorney. “The Weatherization Assistance Program is a cost-effective program that helps seniors and other struggling families with older homes lower their utility bills so they can afford to remain in their homes,” she explained.
The proposed budget also eliminates or deeply cuts many other programs that help vulnerable students, seniors, and families, including programs that low-income students rely on to reduce their student loan debt . “President Trump pledged: ‘On every issue, our campaign is about making life better for working people.’ This budget will make life better for the wealthy and worse for working people who live paycheck to paycheck,” Saunders said.
Since 1969, the nonprofit National Consumer Law Center® (NCLC®) has used its expertise in consumer law and energy policy to work for consumer justice and economic security for low-income and other disadvantaged people, including older adults, in the United States. NCLC’s expertise includes policy analysis and advocacy; consumer law and energy publications; litigation; expert witness services, and training and advice for advocates. NCLC works with nonprofit and legal services organizations, private attorneys, policymakers, and federal and state government and courts across the nation to stop exploitative practices, help financially stressed families build and retain wealth, and advance economic fairness.