Don't ever tell me there's not a "dime's worth of difference". That's never been true, even in the worst of times. The Obama adminstration introduced, and the House has approved increased funding for Legal Service Corporation, which represents low income people in non-criminal legal cases.
The 11 percent increase would bring funding for the Corporation to a total of $390 million,the third consecutive year (emphasis mine) that the House has supported additional funding to provide civil legal assistance to low-income individuals and families. Most of the funding, $365.8 million, would be awarded as competitive grants to 137 nonprofit legal aid programs across the nation.
Rep. Alan B. Mollohan (D-W.Va.), chairman of the Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Subcommittee that oversees LSC, said the Corporation "is an important, significant program that provides legal assistance to people who are unable to afford it. We know that the poor are hit hard during economic downturns, and this funding will help more low-income Americans faced with unlawful evictions, domestic violence and other serious legal problems"
Legal Services Corporation programs are often - usually - the only legal representation available to low income people in non-criminal cases. Other than that, it's just them against whatever system they're up against. Just figuring out how to navigate the courts or a hearing situation can be an impossible task without help, let alone actually going to court, if it should come to that. Demand almost always exceeds resources, so most agencies have to limit their services to cases related to basic sustenance - food, shelter, income and safety - and even then they can't always help everyone who might be eligible for services. Republican administrations have been at war with Legal Services since Reagan's time. After all, Legal Services represents poor people and poor people are not popular with the GOP. Democrats fund Legal Services. Note that this is the third consecutive year that the House has voted an increase in funding. What else is happening in the House for the third consecutive year? Yes, that's right. Democratic majorities. Let me tell you, by 2006 things were really bad for some Legal Service agencies and lack of funding was really hampering them in their ability to represent clients. This current economic climate has been a huge worry, too, because some of the funding for LSC comes from interest on escrow accounts that private lawyers hold for clients. Naturally enough, these days there's considerably less being held in escrow. Budget cuts from the states have also cut funding for legal help for the poor. This news is very welcome and is yet another reason to have warm, fuzzy feelings for the Dems.
Tags: Legal Service, Poverty, Economy, Budget