More

15 times politicians did the right thing in 2015.

You may not always agree with these politicians, but let's give credit where credit is due.

15 times politicians did the right thing in 2015.

2015 has been a big year in a lot of ways.

The Supreme Court ruled on marriage equality and upheld the Affordable Care Act. The people of Ireland became the first country to grant the right to same-sex marriage by popular vote. There have been lots of good political things happening behind the scenes, but how about a few examples of positive things politicians did throughout the year?

1. World leaders came together and signed on to a historic climate change agreement.

Earlier in December, world leaders met in Paris to address an issue vital to the Earth's survival: climate change. And for once, the politicians in attendance got real about the need and urgency to take immediate action.


In the end, 195 countries signed on to the Paris Agreement, agreeing to reduce their carbon output as soon as possible in an effort to keep the planet from warming more than 2 degrees. It's not just good for the environment — the agreement took care to protect human rights as well.

A protester outside the COP21 talks. Photo by Francois Guillot/AFP/Getty Images.

2. Oregon's legislature took on some major issues, from police profiling to paid sick leave.

In 2015, Oregon banned police profiling, required body cameras on officers, criminalized revenge porn, passed a law requiring paid sick leave, and instituted automatic voter registration which will up the number of registered voters in the state by an estimated 800,000 people, among other achievements.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

3. A bipartisan bill put animal welfare ahead of profits.

Back in February, Representatives Earl Blumenauer and Mike Fitzpatrick introduced the Animal Welfare At Risk in Experiments (AWARE) Act. The bill would close a loophole that exempts farm animals from bans on animal testing. Though the bipartisan bill hasn't gotten much traction, it's a bold stand from these politicians against the powerful agriculture industry.

Photo by David McNew/Getty Images.

“Allowing animals to be tortured in the interest of creating bigger profit margins — especially at taxpayer expense — is reprehensible, and we’re grateful to Representatives Blumenauer and Fitzpatrick for working hard to get USDA out of the business of animal cruelty and back to the job of animal welfare,” said Matt Bershadker, president and CEO of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) said of the bill.

“Congress’s swift bipartisan introduction of legislation reflects a strong commitment to ending animal cruelty wherever it happens.”

4. Hawaii Governor David Ige committed his state to using 100% renewable energy by 2045.

In June, Gov. Ige committed Hawaii to achieving the goal of 100% renewable power by the year 2045. In August, Hawaii opened the first fully closed-cycle Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion plant in the U.S. (That's a big deal.)

Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images.

Hawaii isn't exactly chock-full of fossil fuels in the first place, so the swap to renewable energy is not only welcome, but necessary. Here's hoping some of the technology working its way out to the islands finds its way back to the mainland.

5. Lawmakers created Congress' first ever transgender equality task force.

Earlier this year, Rep. Mike Honda announced that he has a transgender granddaughter. Ever since, he's been a powerful, vocal ally to the trans cause, giving voice to the frequently voiceless. Honda now chairs the House of Representatives' first ever Transgender Equality Task Force.

"This is another much-needed step in our fight to ensure that the transgender community’s voice is represented in Congress,” Honda says in a statement on his website.

Rep. Mike Honda. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

6. Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled a gender-balanced cabinet.

It may not seem like a big deal, and that's kind of the point. When a reporter asked Trudeau why his cabinet is equally balanced between men and women, he gave the perfect answer: "Because it's 2015."

"Because it's 2015." ¯\\_(ツ)_/¯

"It's an incredible pleasure for me to be before you today … to present a cabinet that looks like Canada," Trudeau said, noting a more gender and racially diverse cabinet than previous administrations.

7. A "pro-gun" lawmaker quit the NRA after the attacks in San Bernardino.

John Oceguera, the former Nevada Assembly Speaker, resigned his membership to the NRA following the attacks in San Bernardino. Oceguera, who is running for Congress, simply had it with the pro-gun lobby, pointing to its unwillingness to close dangerous loopholes. A gun-owner himself, Oceguera has become outspoken in his position of ensuring guns are only acquired after thorough background checks.

"Our country is facing a tragic gun violence epidemic, and we cannot ignore it," wrote Oceguera about his resignation. "Still, the NRA opposes any legislation that would help keep guns out of the hands of terrorists, criminals and the mentally ill, and spends millions to stop any action in Congress that could help prevent further violence. I cannot continue to be a member while the NRA refuses to back closing these loopholes."

Police in San Bernardino block off the crime scene at the Inland Regional Center where 14 people were killed. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

8. Outgoing Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear restored voting rights for nonviolent ex-felons.

In his final executive order as governor of Kentucky, Steve Beshear took it upon himself to automatically reinstate the voting rights of nonviolent convicted felons who have served out their prison term.

Gov. Steve Beshear. Photo by Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images.

"This disenfranchisement makes no sense," said Beshear during a press conference. "It makes no sense because it dilutes the energy of democracy, which functions only if all classes and categories of people have a voice, not just a privileged, powerful few. It makes no sense because it defeats a primary goal of our corrections system, which is to rehabilitate those who have committed crimes."

9. An Ohio state representative opened up about her rape and abortion.

During debate on a bill that would effectively ban abortion in the state of Ohio, Rep. Teresa Fedor shared a personal story in hopes of providing some important context to the effect such a bill would have on the women of the state.

Photo by TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images.

"You don't respect my reason, my rape, my abortion, and I guarantee you there are other women who should stand up with me and be courageous enough to speak that voice," said Rep. Fedor, opening up about being raped during her time in the military and her decision to have an abortion. "What you're doing is so fundamentally inhuman, unconstitutional, and I've sat here too long."

The bill passed the House but hasn't been taken up by the Senate.

10. Science prevailed during the GOP undercard debate.

During an October debate, GOP presidential hopefuls George Pataki and Lindsey Graham did something that really shouldn't be considered controversial, but given the positions of some of the other candidates, it was. They stood up for science.

"I've talked to climatologists of the world, and 90% of them are telling me that greenhouse gas effect is real," Sen. Lindsey Graham said. "That we're heating up the planet. I just want a solution that would be good for the economy, that doesn't destroy it."

Sen. Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

"Too often we question science that everyone accepts," said Pataki. "I mean, it's ridiculous that, in the 21st century, we're questioning whether or not vaccines are the appropriate way to go. Of course they are. And it's also not appropriate to think that human activity, putting CO2 into the atmosphere, doesn't make the Earth warmer. All things being equal, it does. It's uncontroverted."

11. President Obama "banned the box."

In November, President Obama issued an executive order instructing the federal government to remove questions about whether one has a criminal record. Why? Well, for many employers, a "yes" answer gets applications tossed in the rejection bin.

By removing that question from applications, candidates can be evaluated on the basis of their skills and not on the basis of some potentially long ago transgression. Employers can — and likely will — continue running pre-employment background checks that will turn up convictions. Banning the box gives those convicted of a crime the chance to make a first impression before their record does.

Photo by Saul Loeb-Pool/Getty Images.

12. South Carolina removed the Confederate flag from its post outside the state house.

In July, Republican South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley signed a bill ordering the removal of the Confederate flag from outside the state house. In signing the bill, she used nine pens, one for each victim of the June attack on Charleston's Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

"This is a story about the history of South Carolina and how the action of nine individuals laid out this long chain of events that forever showed the state of South Carolina what love and forgiveness looks like," Gov. Haley said at the signing ceremony.

Photo by Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty Images.

Other cities and states are considering similar action — Houston is in the process of renaming schools that honor confederate soldiers; Fairfax County, Virginia, is considering the same; and a Florida town recently renamed a Confederate-inspired highway after President Obama.

13. Germany's Chancellor Merkel showed, and continues to show, leadership on the refugee front.

In December, Time magazine named German Chancellor Angela Merkel Person of the Year. Why? In large part, because the country has taken on more than 1 million refugees in 2015 alone. In comparison, the U.S. averages around 70,000 refugees taken in each year.

"Germany is doing what is morally and legally obliged [to do for refugees]. Not more, and not less," Merkel said in September. Perhaps other countries (like, oh, perhaps the U.S.) could take a cue from Germany's humanitarian efforts.

Angela Merkel. Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images.

14. Rand Paul filibustered the Patriot Act renewal.

No one really likes the Patriot Act. Or, rather, few would offer major public support for it. The whole thing basically gives the federal government the ability to spy on American citizens. And while most lawmakers are quick to claim it's needed in order to keep us safe from the threat of terrorism, the public is, at best, split on the matter.

In May, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul carried out a nearly 11-hour filibuster calling for the expiration of a number of key Patriot Act provisions, specifically having to do with government surveillance of phone records.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

In the end, the bill passed, but not before Sen. Paul brought it to the attention of the American people, and that's certainly something worth noting.

15. China lifted its one-child rule.

China put an end to its controversial "one-child rule." The rule, instituted in 1979, prevented an estimated 400 million births across the country. But as the country's population ages, the Communist Party has issued a statement allowing couples to now have up to two children. While this sounds like just a tiny step forward on a hugely controversial issue, it's a giant leap in terms of phasing out a regressive policy.

Under the one-child rule, for every 100 girls born in China, 120 boys are born, a higher ratio than any other country in the world.

Photo by China Photos/Getty Images.

You may not always agree with a politician, but it's good to give credit where credit is due.

Maybe you disagree with Rand Paul's economic worldview, or maybe you think President Obama's foreign policy is too hawkish. Even so, you can (and should) acknowledge good work when it's done, regardless of political party. It's easy to paint the world as being inhabited by people who are either 100% pure good or 100% pure evil, but it's simply not that simple.

It's about credit where credit is due and understanding that there's always a bit more nuance than we'd like to admit.

True

2020 was difficult (to say the least). The year was full of life changes, losses, and lessons as we learned to navigate the "new normal." You may have questions about what the changes and challenges of 2020 mean for your taxes. That's where TurboTax Live comes in, making it easy to connect with real tax experts to help with your taxes – or even do them for you, start to finish.

Not only has TurboTax Live helped millions of people get their taxes done right, but this year they've also celebrated people who uplifted their communities during a difficult time by surprising them with "little lifts" to help out even more.

Here are a few of their stories:


Julz, hairdresser and salon owner

"As a hairdresser and salon owner, 2020 was extremely challenging," says Julz. "Being a hairdresser has historically been a recession-proof industry, but we've never faced global shut down due to health risk, or pandemic, not in my lifetime. And for the first time, hairdressers didn't have job security."

Julz had to shut down her salon and go on unemployment benefits for the first time. She also had to figure out how she was going to support herself, her staff and her business during this difficult time. But many other beauty industry professionals didn't have access to the resources they needed, so Julz decided to help.

"My business partner and I began teaching basic financial literacy to other beauty industry professionals," she says. "Transitioning our business from behind the chair to an online academy was a challenge we tackled head-on so that we could move hairdressers into this new space of education, and create a more accessible curriculum to better serve our industry.

Julz connected with a TurboTax Live expert who helped her understand how unemployment affected her taxes and gave her guidance on filing quarterly estimated taxes for her small business. "I was terrified to sit at a computer and tackle this mess of receipts," Julz says, so "it was great to have some virtual handholding to walk me through each question."

In addition to giving Julz the personalized tax advice she needed, TurboTax Live surprised her with a "little lift" that empowered her to help even more beauty professionals. "When my tax expert Diana surprised me with a little lift, I was moved to tears," says Julz. "With that little lift, I was able to establish a scholarship fund to help get other hairdressers the education they deserve."


Alana, new mom

Alana welcomed her first child in 2020. "I think my biggest challenge was figuring out how to be a mom, with no guidance," she says. "My original plan was to have my mom by my side, teaching me the ropes, but because of COVID, she wasn't able to come out here."

She was also without a job for most of 2020 and struggled to find something new.

So, Alana took it as a sign: she decided to launch her own business so she could support her new baby, and that's exactly what she did. She started a feel-good company that specializes in creating affirmation card decks — and she's currently in the process of starting a second, video-editing business.

TurboTax Live answered Alana's questions about her taxes and gave her some much-needed advice as she prepared to launch her businesses. Thanks to their "little lift," they provided her with a little emotional support too.

"I got my mom a plane ticket to finally [have her] meet [my daughter] for her first birthday," Alana says. "I was also able to get a new computer," which helped her invest in her new business and work on her video editing skills. "It's helped my family and me so much," she says.


Michael, science teacher

When schools shut down across the country last year, Michael had to learn how to adapt to a virtual classroom.

"As a teacher, I had to completely revamp everything," he says, so that he could keep his students engaged while teaching online. "At the beginning, it was a nightmare because I had no idea. I had to go from A-Z within a couple of weeks."

Michael's TurboTax Live expert answered his questions about how working from home affected his taxes and helped him uncover surprising tax deductions. To top it all off, his expert surprised him with brand new science equipment and supplies, which allowed him to create an entire line of classes on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. "Now I can truly potentially reach millions of children with my lessons," he says. "I would never have taken that leap if not for the little lift from TurboTax Live."



Ricky, motivational youth speaker

As a motivational speaker, Ricky was used to doing his job in person, but, he says, "when COVID-19 hit, it altered my ability to travel and visit schools in person [because] schools moved to fully virtual or hybrid models."

He knew he had to pivot — so he began offering small virtual group workshops for student leadership groups at middle and high schools.

"This allowed me to work with student leaders to plan how they would continue making a positive impact on their school community," he says. He wasn't sure how being remote would affect his taxes, but TurboTax Live Self-Employed gave him the advice and answers that he needed to keep more money in his pocket at tax time — and the little lift he received from them has helped him serve even more students.

"[It] has been a major blessing," he says "There will be multiple schools and student groups from across the country that I can hold leadership workshops with to empower them with the tools to be inspirational leaders in their school, community, and world."

Plus, he says, it was great knowing he had an expert to help him figure out how being remote affected his taxes. "I felt confident and assured in the process of filing my taxes knowing I had an expert working with me, says Ricky. "There were things my expert knew that I would not have considered when filing on my own."

Filing your taxes doesn't have to be intimidating, especially after a year like 2020. TurboTax Live experts can give you the "little lift" you need to get your taxes done. File with the help of an expert or let an expert file for you! Go to TurboTax Live to get started.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less