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Maxwell: Congress should not cut legal aid to the poor

Bill Maxwell, Opinion Columnist of the Tampa Bay Times, talks about the U.S. House of Representatives decision to cut funding for Legal Services Corporation (LSC) an independent nonprofit established to provide financial support for civil legal aid to low-income Americans.

Low-income Americans face serious challenges in many areas of their lives. Legal representation in court is one of these critical areas because unlike the rest of us, poor people can’t afford lawyers. Helping the poor get their day in court should be a no-brainer. But it isn’t in today’s ideological minefields in Washington and in statehouses nationwide…

In May, while pushing an amendment to the House budget bill that would defund legal aid, Rep. Alex Mooney, a Wyoming Republican, said: “To cut federal waste, my third proposal defunds the Legal Service Corporation. … Defunding this organization would remove a federal agency operating outside of its mandate and would also save taxpayers millions of dollars.”

Mooney is wrong. The LSC isn’t a federal agency, and it doesn’t operate outside its mandate. It’s a private, non-membership, nonprofit corporation that handles civil cases.

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