The shocking numbers behind corporate welfare | Al Jazeera America

The closer we get to an election the more loud the rhetoric on welfare gets…..we will hear all about the so-called ‘free rides’…..but individuals are NOT the only ones that get that ‘free ride’…..very little will be said about another form of welfare….that of corporate welfare….and believe me there is more money wasted there than on some poor person needing help……

Want to know more?  Read on McDuff!

The shocking numbers behind corporate welfare | Al Jazeera America.

Then There’s A Farm Bill

Since the economy is today’s big issue….I would like to say something about the new Farm Bill.  You probably remember this from a month or so ago……it was more about the cuts in SNAP (food stamps) than it was about the farmers…..so the question that was asked is ….why should the poor suffer to help agribusiness?

An excellent question…..but a better question is why do we need a farm bill in the first place?  What happened to all the rhetoric about the free market mechanisms?  Do farms work outside the rules and laws of economics?  All good questions……is there good answers?

(Newser) – In what is being hailed by many as a sign of progress in DC, House and Senate negotiators are finally poised to pass a farm bill next month. But at the Washington Post, Charles Lane has a fundamental question: Why does the US even need a farm bill? The answer, in the days of the Great Depression, used to be food security. But in an era of ultra-cheap food in which farms produce tons more output than farms of yore, that’s “preposterous” now.

“Is there something about farming, as opposed to other businesses, that makes market economics uniquely inapplicable?” asks Lane, who thinks the bill is more about the “hammerlock” that the agriculture lobby has on the Capitol. Yes, the farm bill also includes the nation’s food-stamp program, called SNAP. But that’s simply the result of an old congressional deal that makes little sense anymore. Surely, Congress can find a way to help the poor without providing “corporate welfare for agribusiness.” Click for his full column.

My next question is…….if welfare is such a horrible word and those using the program are slackers and such…..what are the farmers that get a form of corporate welfare?  If ‘welfare’ is such a dirty word why is corporate welfare acceptable?

Anyone have good clear answers?  Lay’em on me!

Oh SNAP!

we have a new farm bill……it all but eliminates SNAP or as we humans call it food stamps……but the bill did so much more..,..it benefited several members of Congress that make millions off of farm subsidies the bill provides……keep that in mind!  Congress passed a bill that benefits their members but not the people of this country!

Food stamps have been made a dirty word thanx to lies spread by right wing media and the pathetic cowards were call CONGRESS……….I know….what lies?

The HufPo published 4 of the major lies…….

1. The program is rife with fraud and abuse.

In the Wall Street Journal editorial, SNAP is denounced as an “unmonitored welfare program” that hemorrhages billions in unjustifiable and fraudulent claims. This is demonstrably false.

In 2010, the Government Accountability Office found that “the national rate of food stamp trafficking [trading benefits for money or non-food goods] declined from about 3.8 cents per dollar of benefits” in 1993 to 1 cent per dollar today — a historic decline. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, which runs the program, SNAP “had the lowest error rate in history at 3.81%. Over 98% of those receiving benefits are eligible for SNAP.”

Steps can be taken to bring those numbers down even further, but to argue, as the GOP has, that sweeping cuts are needed to address minimal levels of fraud and abuse is akin to recommending a howitzer barrage as an appropriate response to a household fruit fly infestation.

A more appropriate response would be to double down on the USDA’s successful anti-fraud campaign. The Electronic Benefits Transfer, or EBT, cards that went into circulation in 2004 (replacing traditional food stamps) make it significantly easier to detect abusive users and the retailers that enable them. The USDA employs over 100 staffers to investigate these crimes. Hiring a few more to bolster the effort makes more sense than letting millions of Americans go hungry.

2. There are too many “hipsters” and college students on food stamps.

Since the start of the Great Recession, the food stamp population has almost doubled, from 26 million in 2007 to between 45 and 47 million starting in 2009. This increase has largely been the result of the cratering economy and persistent unemployment making more Americans poorer and therefore eligible for food stamps. But the government also set higher income eligibility limits in recent years (130 percent of the poverty line, or annual income of $14,157 for an individual) and eased accessibility restrictions on the unemployed and childless.

These changing criteria should be welcomed. Too frequently social programs (e.g., Medicaid and the Earned Income Tax Credit) are limited to families, while low-income people without children are left to fend for themselves. These attempts to bring policy in line with economic realities have broadened access to food assistance to demographics that stretch the stereotypical image of “poverty,” including jobless professionals, students, young people and people with middle-class backgrounds.

Presumably it is these people who the Wall Street Journal refers to as “trust fund babies driving Rolls Royces [getting] free food courtesy of Uncle Sam.” Salon’s coverage of this non-issue brought swarms of commenters (478 as of this writing), some of whom responded humanely, but many who denounced “self-imposed poverty” and called the “hipster” recipients a “burden to society.”

“There are some people who may have a hip looking haircut or a tattoo who are unemployed or underemployed and have the same legal rights and moral rights to food as anyone else,” noted Joel Berg, executive director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger and author of All You Can Eat: How Hungry is America?. “Anyway, the vast majority of people who are using food stamps were poor, and are now poorer.”

The “hipsters on food stamps” narrative gets a spotlight that is disproportionate to actual trends. For one thing, beneficiaries aren’t “secretly middle-class.” Close to 90 percent of households that use SNAP live below the poverty line, while 40 percent of households live at half of the poverty line (less than $10,000 a year for a family of three). According to the USDA, close to half of the beneficiaries are children (48 percent), and another 8 percent are over 60. A majority of those who are of working age are working. In the 1990s, half of new food stamp beneficiaries participated in the program for eight months or less — basically, until they found a job. There is no reason to assume that the same isn’t true for today’s beneficiaries; it just takes them longer to find employment.

SNAP is an entitlement program, meaning that anyone who is eligible can gain access. Just because someone graduated from college, or grew up outside of poverty, doesn’t mean she don’t need help now. This recession devastated the assets and savings accounts of many middle-class people, so relying on family isn’t an option for many individuals. Meanwhile, the job market remains exceptionally weak. More people need food assistance now, no matter their background.

3. Recipients “waste” their benefits on unhealthy food.

Many policy analysts and other influential figures argue that recipients should not be allowed to use food stamps to purchase soda or other junk food. This proposal is both demeaning and doesn’t address any actual problems. First of all, there is little evidence that, given options, low-income people eat less healthily than middle-class people. (One recent study shows that poor people tend to eat less fast food than their middle-class counterparts — and food stamps can’t be used to purchase hot food anyway.) It isn’t as though food stamp beneficiaries are buying unusual amounts of soda, candy, other junk food. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “Almost 90 percent of the food consumed by food SNAP households goes to fruits and vegetables, grain products, meats, or dairy products.”

The reason that many low-income areas have higher obesity rates than wealthier areas is that low-quality food, like white bread, is cheaper and more easily accessible than, say, fruits and vegetables, especially in areas where supermarkets are scarce.

4. The program is too generous, and food stamps are a significant contributor to national debt.

Conservatives have made a great show of moaning about the recent explosion in SNAP’s caseload. Those who would make this an issue (ahem, Jeff Sessions and the Wall Street Journal) are being dumb-headed or malicious, or both. The food stamp program is designed to be responsive to economic downturns. The reason over 15 million people have been added to the rolls is simple: We’ve suffered the worst economic downturn since the 1930s, and the economy is still stagnant. SNAP is doing exactly what it is meant to in these circumstances: ease the plight of those who have been negatively affected by the downturn and boost their purchasing power.

The idea that benefits are too generous is absurd. Monthly benefits run to $133.80 a month for each member of the household, or about $4.50 a day — although poorer households get more generous benefits, while increased income leads to stingier assistance. And, again, food stamps can’t be used to purchase hot food, alcohol, tobacco, or other non-food items.

Also, the expanding food stamp program is not even close to being a significant driver of our national debt. As previously stated, SNAP rolls expand and contract with the health of the economy. If and when the nation gets to a better place economically, the number of enrollees will decline; it’s no miracle. The only reason food assistance is being targeted is because the constituencies that use food stamps — the poor and nearly-poor — are not particularly powerful, especially compared to the those who protect genuinely wasteful spending, like agricultural subsidies and the gluttonous military budget.

Cutting food stamps in the name of debt relief would be a PR stunt, a political ploy. And while its effect on America’s debt will be negligible, the suffering that would be inflicted on millions of Americans, almost half of them children, would be very real.

This piece was originally posted on Alternet.

Then there are some outlandish claims made by right wingers and then picked up by the parasites we pay to do our business in our name……I found these on The Naked City website…….

Right-wing claim: “The measure is necessary because welfare eligibility and spending — including for food stamps — have exploded, threatening to crowd out everything else in the state budget.”

Fact: Actually, the federal government picks up most of the tab. According to the Inquirer , “Pennsylvania receives about $2.5 billion in federal SNAP [that’s food stamps: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program] funds annually and pays about $160 million annually in state money to maintain the program.” That’s just over one half of 1 percent of Pennsylvania’s state budget. And as I reported last week, the state of Pennsylvania taxpayers spends nearly $2 billion on prisons ―$463.8 million more than generally reported.

Right-wing claim: “Despite indisputable evidence that welfare fraud and waste are alive and well, many politicians in Harrisburg and Washington have downplayed it, while actually expanding welfare benefits to the detriment of the truly poor.”

Fact: Pennsylvania has been recognized for having an extraordinarily low rate of food stamp fraud: one-tenth of 1 percent.

Right-wing claim: “It’s impossible to determine the full extent of errors because the state doesn’t actively search for mistakes.”

Fact: This assertion is incomprehensible. The state of Pennsylvania Inspector General has a welfare fraud division with a $705,000 budget. And yes, it includes a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Trafficking Unit.

Right-wing claim: “Without any such protection, billionaires such as Bill Gates could actually be eligible for food stamps if their income was low enough for a year. Sound far-fetched? Consider the case of Leroy Fick, who won a $2 million lottery jackpot but still legally collected food stamps. This fall, Michigan enacted a $5,000 asset test to keeping exploiters such as Fick from taking advantage of the system.”

Fact: It sounds far-fetched because it’s incredibly misleading.  The US Department of Agriculture told Politifact that they are aware of “only one case and one alleged case involving individuals with assets over $1 million”― one of those two cases being Leroy Fick. In Washington, congressional Republicans have claimed that barring millionaires from receiving food stamps or unemployment insurance would save big-time taxpayer dollars. It’s a ruse.

I hope that people will take articles like these and use them to counter the BS passed off as fact by the right wing……….always arm yourself with facts….remember the right wing can have their own opinion….but not their own facts!

If we do not challenge the lies of the right wing then we are allowing them to pick up their own facts……NOT ON MY WATCH!

Complaining About “Socialism”

THis is an op-ed piece from the People’s Weekly World

John McCain has been describing Barack Obama as a “socialist” because the Illinois senator would impose higher taxes on the wealthy than on the working class and poor. McCain says this amounts to an “unacceptable” redistribution of wealth.

Let’s grant, for a moment, that the Obama plan really amounts to redistribution of wealth from the rich to the poor. Let’s grant, just for the moment, that this really can be defined as a form of “socialism.”

How then would we define the upward redistribution of wealth that Congress approved in the Wall Street bailout package? The deal takes tax money from folks who earn $40,000 annually and hands it to bankers who, at the low end of their scale, make $4,000,000 per year.

McCain says he wants everyone to have the chance to get rich. But doesn’t the massive transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich that Congress just approved make that even more impossible than it already is? I’m not an economist, by any means. It seems to me, however, that the bailout only worsens the enormous income inequality between workers and Wall Street execs. It seems to me this only puts further out of reach for more millions the age old American Dream of “moving on up.” It seems to me that Obama’s approach would put that dream a bit more in reach and allow more people to move up a bit. It seems to me that the Obama approach makes for at least a little more economic democracy.
So far, nothing has been done to help bail out Main Street and none of the $700 billion approved for Wall Street has yet been used to help anyone other than the Wall Street moneymakers themselves.

Thus far Wall Street bankers have used the handout that we pay for to buy up other companies. They have even used some of it to go on $500,000 all-expense-paid “retreats” to discuss their next moves. They decided, during one of these “retreats,” to use some of the bailout money to pay lobbyists who will — guess what — lobby for additional taxpayer handouts. There is also evidence that quite a bit of the bailout money they have already received is being hoarded.

Be all that as it may, one thing is clear. They are not using the money for what we were told they were going to use it: pumping it into the market so that credit would again be available not just to Wall Street but to Main Street.

The issue during this major crisis of American capitalism is not that Obama or anyone else is trying to slip “socialism” into the picture. The issue is, as the economist, Dean Baker put it recently:

“Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson mailed $150 billion in checks to the big banks. From that point forward, the CEOs and all other top executives of these banks are now our dependents. They are living off the tax dollars of schoolteachers in Iowa, truck drivers in Montana and even Joe the Plumber.”

What A Crock Of Crap

Please tell me that you are not this stupid to believe a crock of crap when you hear it.

Sen. John McCain stepped up his rhetoric against his Democratic rival on taxes in his weekly radio address Saturday, comparing his plan to “socialist” programs.

In the radio address, McCain didn’t directly call Obama a socialist, but he let the now-famous Joe “the Plumber” Wurzelbacher nearly do it for him.

“You see, [Obama] believes in redistributing wealth, not in policies that help us all make more of it. Joe, in his plainspoken way, said this sounded a lot like socialism,” McCain said Saturday.(Is The McCain paying this yahoo’s tax bill?)

Suddenly—17 years after the Soviet Union’s collapse and the supposed “death of socialism”—the “S” word is being bandied about by American politicians and media pundits.  This is just another pathetic attempt to bolster some support for a dying campaign.

Once again the Repubs show their lack of concern for anyone outside of their circle of influence.

Please, because some worn out wannabe claims it so, does not make it so..  Before all start throwing the word “socialism” around, I suggest that you learn the definition of the word.  Obama is NO Socialist.  And to call his so shows a serious lack of understanding and the IQ of your shoe size.

Is Obama’s Tax Plan Welfare?

Barack Obama’s tax plan is the opposite of supply-side economics. He proposes to raise marginal rates for just about every federal tax. He also proposes a raft of tax credits that taxpayers can receive if they engage in various government-specified activities.

Moreover, the tax credits would mostly go to those who pay little or nothing in federal income taxes. His trick is to make the tax credits “refundable.” Thus, if the tax credit is for $1,000, but the taxpayer would otherwise only pay $200 in taxes, the government would write a check to the taxpayer for $800. If the taxpayer pays nothing in federal income taxes, the government would pay him the whole $1,000.

Such credits are not tax cuts. Indeed, they should be called The New Tax Welfare. In effect, Mr. Obama is proposing to create or expand a slew of government spending programs that are disguised as tax credits. The spending on these programs is then subtracted from the total tax burden, in order to make the claim that his tax plan is a net tax cut overall.

On the tax side of the ledger, the details released by his campaign last week confirm what a President Obama has in mind for our most productive citizens. The top individual income tax rate, for example, would be increased by 13%, to 39.6%; the next-highest rate would be raised to 36%. The top rates on capital gains and dividends would rise by a third, to 20%

The Social Security payroll tax would be raised between 16% to 32% for families making over $250,000 a year. This means that the real returns these people get from their lifetime payments into the retirement program will be driven below 0%, according to my own previous research, which was published by the Cato Institute and elsewhere.

Mr. Obama also wants a permanent federal estate tax, with a top rate of 45%; his health-insurance plan includes a new payroll tax on employers; and he also contemplates several increases in the corporate income tax, including a new so-called windfall profits tax on oil companies.

I understand why people would say that it is welfare, but if we are to have all these new programs it will take cash and without new taxes, where will that cash come from?

Obama And Welfare Reform

Obama’s transformation from opponent to champion of welfare reform is the latest in a series of moves to the center. Since capturing the Democratic nomination, Obama has altered his stances on Social Security taxes, meeting with rogue leaders without preconditions, and the constitutionality of Washington, D.C.’s, sweeping gun ban.

The shift in Obama’s rhetoric on welfare reform has proceeded in stages. When Clinton was poised to sign welfare reform while running for re-election in 1996, Obama called it “disturbing.” A decade later, as an underdog running for president against Clinton’s wife, he spent 2007 avoiding the subject. By the time Obama emerged as the Democratic frontrunner in the spring of 2008, he began leaving the impression that he was for it all along.

When implementation of welfare reform came before the Illinois state senate in 1997, Obama cited a lack of job training, insufficient oversight, and provisions blocking legal immigrants from receiving benefits as his reasons for opposing a federal welfare overhaul imposing work requirements and time limits.

While campaigning for president in 2007, Obama refused on two occasions to say if he would have signed the same welfare-reform bill approved by the husband of his top rival.

By glossing over his early opposition to welfare reform, Obama is stepping closer to the political mainstream. But by undergoing this transformation only once it became politically convenient, Obama’s critics will charge that he puts calculation ahead of conviction.