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dajoki

Profile Information

Gender: Male
Home country: USA
Current location: PA
Member since: Wed May 11, 2005, 10:48 PM
Number of posts: 9,240

About Me

I love spending time with my grandchildren and gardening.

Journal Archives

GOP Rep Describes Pushing 300k Children Off Lunch Program... As "Trimming The Fat"

GOP Rep Describes Pushing 300k Children Off Lunch Program To Protect Military Spending As "Trimming The Fat"
http://www.alternet.org/newsandviews/article/927070/gop_rep_describes_pushing_300k_children_off_lunch_program_to_protect_military_spending_as_%22trimming_the_fat%22/

Yesterday, House Republicans moved legislation forward aimed at preventing any reductions in military spending, even if that means cutting much needed programs for the nation’s poorest. The House Armed Services Committee’s bill provides $554 billion for the Pentagon — $29 billion more than DOD had requested — while the GOP-led Budget Committee packaged six bills that would “slice $261 billion from food stamps, Medicaid, social services and other programs for struggling Americans.”

Last night on Fox News, House Majoriy Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) claimed that the Republicans were just trimming the fat from the budget and getting rid of wasteful spending:

VAN SUSTEREN: But these cuts — I mean, these cuts — I mean, some of the cuts, I mean, just — you know, there are — there’s money sitting in our government. There’s some fat that we can.. some of these cuts. I mean — the fat is incredible!

MCCARTHY: Then you would support what we’re doing. That’s we’re doing committee by committee!

So what does McCarthy and the GOP consider budget fat? The New York Times today offered some details:

The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the bill would push 1.8 million people off food stamps and could cost 280,000 children their school lunch subsidies and 300,000 children their health insurance coverage through the federal and state Children’s Health Insurance Program. Elimination of the social services block grant to state and local governments would hit child abuse prevention programs, Meals on Wheels and child care.

A further 23 million would be affected by the repeal of the Social Services Block Grant, which helps fund child care and disability assistance to low-income Americans.

In fact, eliminating the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans would more than provide the savings the Republicans are seeking, twice over.

<<snip>>

Why is the stunning increase in the levels of poverty so muted during this campaign season?

AlterNet / ByCourtney E. Martin and Noliwe Rooks
The Abstraction of Poverty Is Making Our Policies Poor
Why is the stunning increase in the levels of poverty so muted during this campaign season? Why are the solutions coming out of either party so hard to find?
April 2, 2012
http://www.alternet.org/story/154802/the_abstraction_of_poverty_is_making_our_policies_poor

No ink has been spared and no caricature avoided as columnists and pundits have discussed the wealth stockpiled by GOP presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney.

It got us thinking. Being out of touch with the reality of living below the poverty line is often used as a campaign strategy, but is it really a problem owned by either political party?

So far this election season, Republican candidates have proven themselves, at best, unaware that the number of Americans living on two dollars per day has more than doubled since 1996, and at worst, uncaring that this is so. But it’s not immediately apparent that Democrats are any more engaged. We strongly suspect that the so-called Left spends almost as little time thinking in solution-based ways about eradicating poverty as do wealthy Republicans like Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Santorum who have, at various times and in various ways in the last few months, intimated that the poor would do well to help themselves out of poverty by just getting a job.

The Obama administration, for its part, has pursued a sort of “rising tide” policy premised on the belief that increased economic opportunity for the largest number of American citizens will provide poverty relief by lifting all boats, including those of the poor and struggling. Sure, the unemployment rate has stagnated, but the numbers of American citizens living in poverty far surpasses the numbers of jobs created on a monthly basis.

Plus, the administration’s approach fails to acknowledge that not everyone has a boat that is sea worthy; too many Americans are drowning without the cultural capital—high school and college diplomas, access to professional networks, financial safety nets etc.—that serves as a life vest for so many of us in the middle classes when we struggle. According to a recently released report from the University of Michigan and Harvard University, 1.46 million American families, and 14 percent of all American children, are living in extreme poverty. The numbers are even more bleak if we include high priced urban areas, such as New York City, where almost 25 percent of children are living below the poverty line.

Just as neglect of the poor turns out to be non-partisan, poverty itself knows no boundaries. According to the National Poverty Center, 22 percent of America’s poor are Latino, 25 percent are black, and 45 percent are white.

<<snip>>

Supreme Court: Strip searches, even for minor offenses

Supreme Court: Strip searches, even for minor offenses
By Pete Williams, NBC News chief justice correspondent
http://usnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/04/02/10982324-supreme-court-strip-searches-even-for-minor-offenses

Siding with security needs over privacy rights, the Supreme Court ruled Monday that jailers may subject people arrested for minor offenses to invasive strip searches.

By a 5-4 vote, the court rejected a challenge from a New Jersey man who argued it's unconstitutional to force everyone to strip down for inspection. Albert Florence was arrested by a state trooper because of an error in the state's records that mistakenly said he was wanted on an outstanding warrant for an unpaid fine. Even if the warrant had been valid, failure to pay a fine is not a crime in New Jersey.

Florence was held for a week in two different jails before the charges were dropped. But at each jail, he was required to shower with delousing soap and undergo a strip search.

Florence's lawyers argued such seaches are unconstitutional unless police have reason to believe the subject is carrying a weapon or drugs.

But the court's majority said it's difficult for jail officials to know who's dangerous and who isn't among the 13 million prisoners they process each year because criminal records are often not available at the time of intake. The majority opinion was written by Justice Anthony Kennedy.

A New Energy Third World in North America?

Michael T. Klare.
Author and Professor of Peace and World-Security Studies, Hampshire College
A New Energy Third World in North America?
Posted: 04/ 1/2012 10:30 pm
How the Big Energy Companies Plan to Turn the United States into a Third-World Petro-State
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-t-klare/oil-lobby-us-_b_1395440.html

The “curse” of oil wealth is a well-known phenomenon in Third World petro-states where millions of lives are wasted in poverty and the environment is ravaged, while tiny elites rake in the energy dollars and corruption rules the land. Recently, North America has been repeatedly hailed as the planet’s twenty-first-century “new Saudi Arabia” for “tough energy” -- deep-sea oil, Canadian tar sands, and fracked oil and natural gas. But here’s a question no one considers: Will the oil curse become as familiar on this continent in the wake of a new American energy rush as it is in Africa and elsewhere? Will North America, that is, become not just the next boom continent for energy bonanzas, but a new energy Third World?

Once upon a time, the giant U.S. oil companies -- Chevron, Exxon, Mobil, and Texaco -- got their start in North America, launching an oil boom that lasted a century and made the U.S. the planet’s dominant energy producer. But most of those companies have long since turned elsewhere for new sources of oil.

Eager to escape ever-stronger environmental restrictions and dying oil fields at home, the energy giants were naturally drawn to the economically and environmentally wide-open producing areas of the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America -- the Third World -- where oil deposits were plentiful, governments compliant, and environmental regulations few or nonexistent.

Here, then, is the energy surprise of the twenty-first century: with operating conditions growing increasingly difficult in the global South, the major firms are now flocking back to North America. To exploit previously neglected reserves on this continent, however, Big Oil will have to overcome a host of regulatory and environmental obstacles. It will, in other words, have to use its version of deep-pocket persuasion to convert the United States into the functional equivalent of a Third World petro-state.

Knowledgeable observers are already noting the first telltale signs of the oil industry’s “Third-Worldification” of the United States. Wilderness areas from which the oil companies were once barred are being opened to energy exploitation and other restraints on invasive drilling operations are being dismantled. Expectations are that, in the wake of the 2012 election season, environmental regulations will be rolled back even further and other protected areas made available for development. In the process, as has so often been the case with Third World petro-states, the rights and wellbeing of local citizens will be trampled underfoot.

<<snip>>

Supreme Court Might Decide Their Second Election

Supreme Court Might Decide Their Second Election
by Cenk Uygur | March 30, 2012 - 9:19am
http://www.smirkingchimp.com/node/42284

It was a similar crew of conservative justices on the Supreme Court that decided that their long-held beliefs on states' rights were irrelevant and made George W. Bush our next president in 2000. Now, they're back!!! And they might decide yet another presidential election.

Imagine the damage it does to President Obama to strip him of his signature accomplishment right before the election. It would also allow the Republicans to say -- "See, we told you so! It was unconstitutional all along. It was a wild, socialist over-reach of big government." It creates a permanent stain on the law -- as if there was something horribly wrong with it all along. And it takes it off the books at a moment when it is still relatively unpopular. So, before any of the popular provisions are put into effect it would go in the record books as a complete disaster.

Why don't you just hand the Republicans the election? Which is, of course, exactly what the conservatives of this court would love to do. These conservative justices are given far too much deference in the media. They are largely partisan hacks.

Antonin Scalia is a complete fraud. He will bend any so-called principle to get to the political result he wants. If it's upholding anti-gay legislation or striking down federal laws he doesn't like, he is a huge advocate for states' rights. But if it's marijuana legalization or euthanasia or Bush v. Gore, then he hates states' rights. So, which one is it? Here's how you can tell -- which side is the Republican Party on?

Remember, this is a guy who goes duck hunting with Dick Cheney and attends political fundraisers with the Koch brothers. Of course, he doesn't recuse himself from any cases that involve those people. In fact, he votes on their side nearly 100% of the time.

We've been hearing for at least thirty years about the dangers of activist judges. That it is so wrong for unelected officials, like judges, to invalidate laws made by the people's representatives. Now, all of a sudden, the Republicans love that idea! They want to interpret the Commerce Clause in a way that it has not been interpreted since 1937. They want to invalidate a sitting president's signature piece of legislation for the first time in 75 years. And their hack, partisan justices on the Supreme Court can't wait to do their bidding.

<<snip>>

Ryan’s plan: Take from the poor, give to the rich

Ryan’s plan: Take from the poor, give to the rich
Appeared in print: Thursday, March 22, 2012, page A7
http://special.registerguard.com/web/opinion/27801233-47/ryan-budget-poor-programs-cuts.html.csp

Paul Ryan, outlining his latest budget proposal in the House TV studio Tuesday morning, said the policies of the Republican presidential nominees “perfectly jibe” with his plan, which slashes the safety net to pay for tax cuts mostly for wealthy Americans.

“Do you wholeheartedly believe they will accept your budget?” NBC’s Luke Russert called from the audience.

“Absolutely,” the House Budget Committee chairman replied without hesitation. “I’m confident.”

Makes perfect sense, in a way. Mitt Romney, the likely Republican nominee, is on record as saying, “I’m not concerned about the very poor.” And Ryan has just written a budget that supports Romney’s boast.

Ryan would cut $770 billion over 10 years from Medicaid and other health programs for the poor, compared with President Obama’s budget. He takes an additional $205 billion from Medicare, $1.6 trillion from the Obama health care legislation and $1.9 trillion from a category simply labeled “other mandatory.”

Pressed to explain this magic asterisk, Ryan allowed that the bulk of those “other mandatory” cuts come from food stamps, welfare, federal employee pensions and support for farmers.

Taken together, Ryan would cut spending on such programs by $5.3 trillion, much of which currently goes to the have-nots. He would then give that money to America’s haves: some $4.3 trillion in tax cuts, compared with current policies, according to Citizens for Tax Justice.

Ryan’s justification was straight out of Charles Dickens. He wants to improve the moral fiber of the poor. There is, he told the audience at the conservative American Enterprise Institute later Tuesday, an “insidious moral tipping point, and I think the president is accelerating this.” Too many Americans, he said, are receiving more from the government than they pay in taxes.

<<snip>>

President’s Budget Shreds Hope for Low-Income Americans

President’s Budget Shreds Hope for Low-Income Americans
February 13, 2012 07:06 PM Eastern Time
http://eon.businesswire.com/news/eon/20120213006673/en/Low-income/poverty/employment

WASHINGTON--(EON: Enhanced Online News)--President Obama’s proposed cut, of nearly 50 percent, to the Community Service Block Grant (CSBG) would be a devastating blow to more than 1,000 community action agencies (CAAs) that help low-income Americans find employment, housing, education and emergency services. With America’s poverty rate at 15.1 percent, its highest level since 1993, these cuts threaten the economic security of families living in or near poverty and the rebuilding of America’s middle class. “Cutting Community Service Blog Grant funding in half will shred vital State and local programs and services for the most vulnerable Americans at a time when they are needed more than ever”.

“Cutting Community Service Blog Grant funding in half will shred vital State and local programs and services for the most vulnerable Americans at a time when they are needed more than ever,” said Steve Payne, President of the National Association for State Community Service Programs Board of Directors and Director of the Department of Commerce, Community Services and Housing Division in Washington state. “We urge Congress to reinstate level funding of $677 million and preserve this essential block grant for the more than 20 million low-income Americans served by CSBG last year.”

CSBG has measurable results that reduce or eliminate poverty by helping individuals find job training, obtain employment and remove employment barriers, such as safe and reliable housing and transportation. During the last fiscal year, the CSBG network effectively allowed 5.6 million low-income participants to acquire a job or reduce barriers to employment; assisted 3.2 million low-income vulnerable individuals to maintain an independent living situation; and 3.9 million people participated in child and family development programs, among other accomplishments.

“During an era when Americans are struggling with high unemployment, underemployment, and financial burdens lingering from a deep recession, we’re appalled to see this attack on vulnerable Americans looking to contribute to the economic health of the country. In order for people to move out of poverty and into the ranks of the middle class, we need to ensure that they have access to available jobs and livable wages, and not create further barriers to their economic security,” said Payne.

As part of its ongoing effort to ensure that CSBG funds are used efficiently and with the highest impact to participants, NASCSP released an accreditation proposal for improving performance measures and accountability of CSBG-funded agencies. The Obama administration’s proposed funding cuts will effectively make these recommendations moot by dismantling programs with proven results and direct impact to people most in need.

Please Welcome My New Grandson to the World

Sullivan

Even Critics of Safety Net Depend on It Increasingly

Even Critics of Safety Net Depend on It Increasingly
Adam B. Ellick/The New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/12/us/even-critics-of-safety-net-increasingly-depend-on-it.html?_r=1&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha2

LINDSTROM, Minn. — Ki Gulbranson owns a logo apparel shop, deals in jewelry on the side and referees youth soccer games. He makes about $39,000 a year and wants you to know that he does not need any help from the federal government. He says that too many Americans lean on taxpayers rather than living within their means. He supports politicians who promise to cut government spending. In 2010, he printed T-shirts for the Tea Party campaign of a neighbor, Chip Cravaack, who ousted this region’s long-serving Democratic congressman.

Yet this year, as in each of the past three years, Mr. Gulbranson, 57, is counting on a payment of several thousand dollars from the federal government, a subsidy for working families called the earned-income tax credit. He has signed up his three school-age children to eat free breakfast and lunch at federal expense. And Medicare paid for his mother, 88, to have hip surgery twice.

There is little poverty here in Chisago County, northeast of Minneapolis, where cheap housing for commuters is gradually replacing farmland. But Mr. Gulbranson and many other residents who describe themselves as self-sufficient members of the American middle class and as opponents of government largess are drawing more deeply on that government with each passing year.

Dozens of benefits programs provided an average of $6,583 for each man, woman and child in the county in 2009, a 69 percent increase from 2000 after adjusting for inflation. In Chisago, and across the nation, the government now provides almost $1 in benefits for every $4 in other income.

<<snip>>

The government safety net was created to keep Americans from abject poverty, but the poorest households no longer receive a majority of government benefits. A secondary mission has gradually become primary: maintaining the middle class from childhood through retirement. The share of benefits flowing to the least affluent households, the bottom fifth, has declined from 54 percent in 1979 to 36 percent in 2007, according to a Congressional Budget Office analysis published last year.

<<snip>>

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/12/us/even-critics-of-safety-net-increasingly-depend-on-it.html?_r=1&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha2


Almost Half Of U.S. Households Live One Crisis From The Bread Line

Alexander Eichler
Working Poor: Almost Half Of U.S. Households Live One Crisis From The Bread Line
Posted: 1/31/12 12:00 AM ET | Updated: 1/31/12 11:52 AM ET
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/31/working-poor-liquid-asset-poverty_n_1243152.html

What does it mean to be poor?

If it means living at or below the poverty line, then 15 percent of Americans -- some 46 million people -- qualify. But if it means living with a decent income and hardly any savings -- so that one piece of bad luck, one major financial blow, could land you in serious, lasting trouble -- then it's a much larger number. In fact, it's almost half the country.

"The resources that people have -- they are using up those resources," said Jennifer Brooks, director of state and local policy at the Corporation for Enterprise Development, a Washington, D.C., advocacy group. "They're living off their savings. They're at the end of their rope."

The group issued a report today examining so-called liquid asset poverty households -- the people who aren't living below the poverty line, but don't have enough money saved to weather a significant emergency.

According to the report, 43 percent of households in America -- some 127.5 million people -- are liquid-asset poor. If one of these households experiences a sudden loss of income, caused, for example, by a layoff or a medical emergency, it will fall below the poverty line within three months. People in these households simply don't have enough cash to make it for very long in a crisis.

The findings underscore the struggles of many Americans during what has often seemed like an economic recovery in name only. While the Great Recession officially ended more than two years ago, unemployment remains high and wages have barely budged for most workers. For more people, whether they draw a paycheck or not, a life free of deprivation and financial anxiety seems perpetually out of reach.

<<snip>>

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/31/working-poor-liquid-asset-poverty_n_1243152.html
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