Our Common Good
You can’t neatly partition off hunger from stuff like inadequate housing or electricity or health care or safety or education. All those things are happening in concert and informing each other; their effects are cumulative. It’s hard to look for work or pay attention in school when you’re malnourished. It’s hard to keep food refrigerated if you can’t pay your electric bill. It’s hard to keep your food your food if you live with other people who are hungry too and who maybe can’t be trusted.

miss-lurker:

At over $446 billion per year, Walmart is the third highest revenue grossing corporation in the world. Walmart earns over $15 billion per year in pure profit and pays its executives handsomely.

Wal-Mart’s poverty wages force employees to rely on $2.66 billion in government help every year, or about $420,000 per store. In state after state, Wal-Mart employees are the top recipients of Medicaid. As many as 80 percent of workers in Wal-Mart stores use food stamps.

…In effect, Wal-Mart is shifting part of its labor costs onto the public.

-DailyKos Diary - Oct 10, 2012

Over the weekend, Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker (D) challenged a tea party-affiliated critic to join him in living on food stamps for a week, and now it appears the challenge has been accepted.

The challenge was prompted by a tweet on Sunday from Twitter user @MWadeNC, whose bio reads: “Daughter of the American Revolution (DAR), fighting against any and all forms of socialism/communism.. Army Veteran, Army Daughter, Army Wife.”

Booker had touched off a Twitter argument by quoting the Greek historian Plutarch, who wrote that “an imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics.”

That quote, he explained, underpins an argument for public investment in education and nutrition, which he said would save money on police and prisons. That’s when @MWadeNC chimed in, saying ”nutrition is not a responsibility of the government.”

“Lets you and I try to live on food stamps in New Jersey (high cost of living) and feed a family for a week or month,” Booker wrote. “U game?”

The critic accepted. “Great,” Booker replied. “Lets do this. I hope you live in New Jersey. Lets film it and see how we do.” Several other respondents offered to referee the challenge, and Booker appeared to welcome their assistance.

He followed up again on Tuesday, responding to another user who asked if he’s really prepared to participate in the challenge. “Yes preparing 2 if my challenge is truly accepted,” Booker wrote.

Seventy percent of counties with the fastest-growth in food-stamp aid during the last four years voted for the Republican presidential candidate in 2008, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data compiled by Bloomberg. They include Republican strongholds like King County, Texas, which in 2008 backed Republican John McCain by 92.6 percent, his largest share in the nation; and fast-growing Douglas County, Colorado.

That means Romney is counting on votes from areas where lower-income people have become more reliant on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as food stamps. Mark Baisley, who heads Douglas County’s Republican Party, said many recipients will back Romney in hopes he’ll improve the economy.

In 1959, 22.1 percent of Americans lived below the poverty line.

In 1969, 13.7 percent of Americans lived below the poverty line.

The poverty level has varied since 1969. It has gone as high as 15 percent. But it has never again gotten anywhere near where it was in 1959.

What changed during the 1960s to dramatically decrease poverty?

“Centralized, bureaucratic, top-down anti-poverty programs” like Medicare (1965), Medicare (1965), the initiatives launched with the Food Stamp Act of 1964 and Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 programs such as the Jobs Corps (1964) and Head Start (1965).

Those programs worked.

Welfare Recipients Are Actually Mostly White And Less Likely Than The Average American To Use Drugs

soupisnotameal:

abaldwin360:

Here’s a graphic circulating around Facebook AGAIN. I’m sick of it, and I think it is stupid:

Short answer: No, and fuck the people who made this graphic.

Long answer: Let’s learn from what happened in Florida.

Gov. Voldemort Rick Scott (who, not coincidentally, has a financial interest in a drug testing facility; he just transferred legal ownership of it to his WIFE) decided to drug test welfare recipients. This cost taxpayers millions of dollars and lined his wallet, and they found that only 2% of all welfare recipients tested actually tested positive for drugs. Of that 2%, ALL of them had family members who were eligible for welfare, so NO welfare money was saved by attempting to deny it to people on drugs. (I’ll also note that I heard nothing about getting people who tested positive into a rehab, or any concern for innocent minor children who rely on welfare to, you know, not starve.)

Now considering that data exists that has found that 5% of Americans use illegal drugs (that’s the LOWEST percentage I have found; other data puts it at 22 million people, or 9% of the population), that means that, according to the findings in Florida where only 2% of the tested population tested positive, people on welfare are LESS LIKELY to use illegal drugs. In fact, people on welfare are anywhere from 3% to 7% LESS LIKELY to be using illegal drugs than the general population as a whole.

Also, let’s not pretend that there are not “false positives” when drug testing, because there are. Your legal doctor-prescribed medications can show up as opiates or other “illegal” drugs. You can eat a poppyseed bagel and have a false positive. If there is a possibility that a test could be WRONG and deny a family some needed assistance so they can EAT, there is something gravely wrong with the idea.

Also, just as an aside, if you think that people on food assistance are rolling in free Government Cheese Bucks, consider that the average allotment comes out to about a dollar and change per meal. What can you buy to eat for less than two bucks a meal? Think on that. Now imagine doing that forever. Until you are denied benefits, of course.

read more

I don’t know where people get the idea that welfare recipients are living some kind of high life.

Ryan Isn’t an Entitlement Reformer, He’s an Entitlement Destroyer

robertreich:

David Brooks in today’s New York Times commits the standard error of pundits who want to appear neutral but know the Romney-Ryan plan would be a disaster for America. He asserts that Ryan makes a serious effort at entitlement reform. “If you believe entitlement reform is essential for national solvency, then Romney-Ryan is the only train leaving the station.”

Baloney.   

Ryan “reforms” Medicaid by destroying it – cutting the federal contribution by some $800 billion and then continuing the cuts after the first ten years until federal spending is a small fraction of what it is today, and handing it over to the states, which can’t possibly keep the program going.  

Ryan “reforms” food stamps by slashing them – reducing the federal contribution by around $125 billion and then, beyond the first decade, essentially ending the program altogether.

He “reforms” Medicare by substituting vouchers that can’t possibly keep up with the rising costs of health care.

Originally he wanted to “reform” Social Security by turning it into private savings accounts whose value would rise or fall at the whim of the Wall Street casino. (Now he doesn’t suggest any reform of Social Security. )

You want real entitlement reform? President Obama has begun it. Rational people would make sure he gets a second term to:

Use the government’s huge bargaining clout in Medicare and Medicaid to push down drug costs and the costs of medical providers, and to shift from a fee-for-services system to a payments-for-healthy-outcomes system.

Then allow anyone of any age to join Medicare, so all Americans can get affordable health care.

Fold food stamps and other programs for the poor into a single enlarged Earned Income Tax Credit  — a monthly cash grant that’s inversely related to income.

Save Social Security by eliminating the ceiling on income subject to it. (Now, income over $110,100 isn’t touched.)

These are real reforms. Ryan isn’t an entitlement reformer. He’s an  entitlement destroyer.

thepoliticalfreakshow:

National media attention has focused on Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) drastic restructuring of the Medicare program, detailing the Vice Presidential candidate’s efforts to transform the current benefit guarantee into a “premium support” program for future enrollees.

But Romney/Ryan’s most devastating changes would impact programs that serve society’s most vulnerable citizens. American who rely on Medicaid, food stamps and Pell grants won’t be afforded the luxury of retaining their existing benefits, should Romney and Ryan implement their plans; these programs would experience immediate reductions if the Ryan budget becomes law (via CBPP):

1. CUTS FOOD STAMPS BY $133 BILLION: Ryan’s budget would send the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps) back to the states as a block grant and cut the program by $134 billion. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “an average of almost 10 million people would have to be cut from the program in the years from 2016 through 2022 to achieve the required savings.” If the cuts were to come from benefits, rather than kicking families out of the program, “All families of four — including the poorest — would see their benefits cut by about $90 a month in fiscal year 2016, or more than $1,100 on an annual basis.” Ryan continually claims that the food stamp program is “unsustainable,” even though the numbers show that’s simply not the case.

2. CUTS MEDICAID BY 1/3%: Ryan would treat Medicaid in the same way: transform the exiting matching-grant financing structure into a pre-determined block grant that will not keep up with actual health care spending and send it back to the states. This would shift some of the burden of Medicaid’s growing costs to the states, forcing them to — in the words of the CBO — make cutbacks that “involve reduced eligibility for Medicaid and CHIP, coverage of fewer services, lower payments to providers, or increased cost sharing by beneficiaries—all of which would reduce access to care.” The reductions to Medicaid kick in right away: between 2013 and 2022, the budget makes $1.4 trillion in cuts to Medicaid —a 34 percent reduction. As a result, states could reduce enrollment by more than 14 million people, or almost 20 percent—even if they are were able to slow the growth in health care costs substantially.

3. 30 MILLION AMERICANS WOULD LOSE HEALTH COVERAGE: Romney and Ryan would repeal the Affordable Care Act, including the subsidies for middle-class Americans to purchase coverage and the expansion of the Medicaid program for lower-income Americans. As a result, more than 30 million Americans would lose access to insurance. The popular regulations that prohibit insurers from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions and rescinding coverage would also be repealed.

4. CUTS PELL GRANTS FOR 1 MILLION STUDENTS: Ryan consistently claims that increases in financial aid are driving up the cost of higher education, even though evidence doesn’t back him up. The budget Ryan authored, according to an analysis by the Education Trust, would eliminate Pell Grants entirely for one million students. In 2011, 74 percent of Pell Grant recipients had family incomes of $30,000 or less. These cuts would come despite the fact that the price of a college degree has skyrocketed 1,120 percent over the last three decades.

Paul Krugman:

First, there are a set of tax cuts for higher income brackets and corporations. The Tax Policy Center (pdf) estimates the cost of these tax cuts, relative to current policy, at $4.3 trillion.

Second, there are spending cuts. Of these, approximately $800 billion comes from converting Medicaid into a block grant that grows only with population and overall inflation – a big cut compared with projections that take into account rising health-care costs and an aging population (since the elderly and disabled account for most Medicaid expenses). Another $130 billion comes from doing something similar to food stamps. Then there are odds and ends – Pell grants, job training. Be generous and call all of this $1 trillion in specified cuts.

On top of this we should add the $700 billion in Medicare cuts that Ryan denounces in Obamacare but nonetheless incorporates into his own plan.

So if we look at the actual policy proposals, they look like this:

Spending cuts: $1.7 trillion
Tax cuts: $4.3 trillion

This is, then, a plan that would increase the deficit by around $2.6 trillion.

How, then, does Ryan get to call himself a fiscal hawk? By asserting that he will keep his tax cuts revenue-neutral by broadening the base in ways he refuses to specify, and that he will make further large cuts in spending, in ways he refuses to specify.

divineirony:

Government Spends More on Corporate Welfare Subsidies than Social Welfare Programs.
About $59 billion is spent on traditional social welfare programs. $92 billion is spent on corporate subsidies. So, the government spent 50% more on corporate welfare than it did on food stamps and housing assistance in 2006.
Before we look at the details, a heartfelt plea from the Save the CEO’s Charitable Trust:
There’s so much suffering in the world. It can all get pretty overwhelming sometimes. Consider, for a moment the sorrow in the eyes of a CEO who’s just found out that his end-of-year bonus is only going to be a paltry $2.3 million.
“It felt like a slap in the face. Imagine what it would feel like just before Christmas to find out that you’re going to be forced to scrape by on your standard $8.4 million compensation package alone. Imagine what is was like to have to look into my daughter’s face and tell her that I couldn’t afford to both buy her a dollar sign shaped island and hire someone to chew her food from now on, too. To put her in that situation of having to choose… She’s only a child for God’s sake.”
It doesn’t have to be this way. Thanks to federal subsidies from taxpayers like you, CEO’s like G. Allen Andreas of Archer Daniels Midland was able to take home almost $14 million in executive compensation last year. But he’s one of the lucky ones. There are still corporations out there that actually have to provide goods and services to their consumers in order to survive. They need your help.
For just $93 billion a year the federal government is able to provide a better life for these CEO’s and their families. That’s less than the cost of 240 million cups of coffee a day. Won’t you help a needy corporation today?
(Full article with all the details)

divineirony:

Government Spends More on Corporate Welfare Subsidies than Social Welfare Programs.

About $59 billion is spent on traditional social welfare programs. $92 billion is spent on corporate subsidies. So, the government spent 50% more on corporate welfare than it did on food stamps and housing assistance in 2006.

Before we look at the details, a heartfelt plea from the Save the CEO’s Charitable Trust:

There’s so much suffering in the world. It can all get pretty overwhelming sometimes. Consider, for a moment the sorrow in the eyes of a CEO who’s just found out that his end-of-year bonus is only going to be a paltry $2.3 million.

“It felt like a slap in the face. Imagine what it would feel like just before Christmas to find out that you’re going to be forced to scrape by on your standard $8.4 million compensation package alone. Imagine what is was like to have to look into my daughter’s face and tell her that I couldn’t afford to both buy her a dollar sign shaped island and hire someone to chew her food from now on, too. To put her in that situation of having to choose… She’s only a child for God’s sake.”

It doesn’t have to be this way. Thanks to federal subsidies from taxpayers like you, CEO’s like G. Allen Andreas of Archer Daniels Midland was able to take home almost $14 million in executive compensation last year. But he’s one of the lucky ones. There are still corporations out there that actually have to provide goods and services to their consumers in order to survive. They need your help.

For just $93 billion a year the federal government is able to provide a better life for these CEO’s and their families. That’s less than the cost of 240 million cups of coffee a day. Won’t you help a needy corporation today?

(Full article with all the details)

Congress’ push to cut food stamps could cause collateral damage in the military, hitting everyone from active-duty members to retirees, who together have used more than $100 million in federal food aid on military bases over the past year, a Huffington Post review of the data found.

underpaidgenius:

House Republicans want to avoid the cuts in military spending brokered in the debt ceiling fight last year. They opt to cut $33B in the next decade out of food stamp programs, immediately leading to 2M people cut from the program, and to reduce benefits for 44M others.

Callous Choices in the…

newsworks:

Host of WHYY’s Radio Times, Marty Moss-Coane, is participating in a $5-a-day food stamp challenge.
“Here is what I purchased for my food stamp allotment for the week. I spent $32, and my best find was six peppers for $2. I had to buy instant coffee and already miss my freshly brewed cup of joe. I cooked up a big pot of lentil soup yesterday, which I hope will last for much of the week. While I’m a cost-conscious shopper, I have rarely been so careful and concerned about what things cost.”
—Marty Moss-Coane

newsworks:

Host of WHYY’s Radio Times, Marty Moss-Coane, is participating in a $5-a-day food stamp challenge.

“Here is what I purchased for my food stamp allotment for the week. I spent $32, and my best find was six peppers for $2. I had to buy instant coffee and already miss my freshly brewed cup of joe. I cooked up a big pot of lentil soup yesterday, which I hope will last for much of the week. While I’m a cost-conscious shopper, I have rarely been so careful and concerned about what things cost.”

—Marty Moss-Coane

Republicans in six House of Representatives committees next week will dust off their past proposals for reducing the deficit as they try to replace some of the automatic spending cuts set to take place in January.

Under a directive in the House-passed budget plan from Congressman Paul Ryan, the panels have just two weeks to come up with $18.45 billion in savings for fiscal 2013 and a net $261 billion over 10 years.

Expected targets for cuts include food stamps, farm subsidies and crop insurance, federal employee pensions and health care. A repeal of President Barack Obama’s health reform law would prevent new coverage expenses from occurring from 2014.

The proposed cuts, like the Ryan budget that prescribes them, have little chance of passage in the Democratic-controlled Senate. But they will live on as campaign talking-points for both parties as November elections approach.

They also could complicate the annual passage of spending bills needed to keep the government running - raising the risk of a shutdown just weeks before the election.

A new study by the Agriculture Department has found that food stamps, one of the country’s largest social safety net programs, reduced the poverty rate substantially during the recent recession. The food stamp program, formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, reduced the poverty rate by nearly 8 percent in 2009, the most recent year included in the study, a significant impact for a social program whose effects often go unnoticed by policy makers.