July 19, 2013
AS A SYMBOL of the dysfunction of Congress - and of this country - you can't do much better than the steaming cowpie that is the farm bill. It's a complicated bill that is supposed to establish agricultural policy for the country every five years, but is seen by many to be a corporate-welfare program, providing price supports, loans and insurance subsidies, including hefty subsidies for cotton, sugar and peanut farmers and other big agribusiness....
July 12, 2013
DURING A crowded launch of Mayor Nutter's new anti-poverty initiative yesterday at the Free Library, someone observed, "It costs a lot to be poor. " And that, among the many dispiriting facts and helpful observations uttered yesterday, might be the most meaningful. Poverty extracts a huge price tag from individuals - in health, well-being, future potential and general living conditions, to name just a few. But poverty also extracts a high price from all of us in the city. Some of those costs can be measured specifically, like the nearly $300 million that the city spends for "health and opportunity," which includes public health and housing (but not the library, or parks and rec)
July 9, 2013
Pennsylvania and New Jersey should be ashamed to be among the worst states in the nation in meeting federal rules by getting food stamps to the needy within 30 days. Their bureaucratic delays create more hardships for families struggling to put food on the table. An Inquirer analysis found that New Jersey processes food-stamp applications within 30 days only about 74 percent of the time. Only Guam, Tennessee, Vermont, Hawaii, and Connecticut are worse. Pennsylvania ranked 39th on a list of 53, meeting the federal timeliness requirement only 81 percent of the time.
July 8, 2013 |
New Jersey is one of the slowest states in the nation in getting food stamps to needy people. Its performance is so poor, in fact, that the federal government is directing the state to improve, according to an examination of federal data by The Inquirer. States are required by U.S. law to get food stamps to people within 30 days, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which administers the food-stamp program, now called SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)
June 27, 2013 |
Already under scrutiny for taking too long to process unemployment checks and home-energy assistance claims, Pennsylvania is also too slow in approving food-stamp applications, compelling the federal government to order the state to improve its performance. Pennsylvania ranks among the worst in the nation for getting food stamps to the needy within 30 days, as required by federal law, according to an Inquirer examination of data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which runs the food-stamp program.
June 26, 2013 |
A recent road trip took me into rural Georgia and Florida, far from the traffic jams, boutique coffeehouses, and National Public Radio signals that frame my familiar landscape. Along the way, billboards reminded me that I was outside my natural habitat: antiabortion declarations appeared every 40 or 50 miles. "Pregnant? Your baby's heart is already beating!" "Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. - God. " And, with a photo of an adorable smiling baby, "My heart beat 18 days from conception.
June 25, 2013 |
The roof fell in on John Boehner's House of Representatives last week. The Republican leadership's humiliating defeat on a deeply flawed and inhumane farm bill was as clear a lesson as we'll get about the real causes of dysfunction in the nation's capital. Our ability to govern ourselves is being brought low by a witches' brew of right-wing ideology, a shockingly cruel attitude toward the poor on the part of the Republican majority, and the speaker's incoherence when it comes to his need for Democratic votes to pass bills.
June 22, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - The House rejected a five-year, half-trillion-dollar farm bill Thursday that would have cut $2 billion annually from food stamps and let states impose broad new work requirements on those who receive them. Those cuts weren't deep enough for many Republicans who objected to the cost of the nearly $80 billion-a-year food stamp program, which has doubled in the last five years. The vote was 234-195 against the bill, with 62 Republicans voting against it. The bill also lacked the Democratic support necessary for the traditionally bipartisan farm bill to pass.
June 21, 2013
THURSDAY, the Farm Bill flamed out in Congress, when House Democrats led the fight against a $900 billion bill that would, among other things, call for significant cuts to the food-stamp program. The Farm Bill, set to be renewed every five years, governs food and agricultural policy in the United States, and its failure yesterday is somewhat stunning, given the magnitude of the bill. We've been keeping a close eye on this bill, not only because it impacts every American, but because it had the potential to be disastrous for the hungry.