Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Republican War on the Unemployed, Poor and Education

When doing the research for this article, totally forgot about the 'chastity training' that wasted $250M of our tax dollars in the Welfare Reform Bill signed by Clinton.  If you count up all the waste on programs that were useless over the years including the War on Drugs, the deficit might be cut to zero.  Feel good titles don't make programs good programs.  

One program that I thought was outstanding was 'Reading is Fundamental (RIF)' which focused on teaching children to read in the public schools plus encouraging parents to read to their kids.  Today that is a program you hear nothing about.  It was replaced by the bi-partisan "No Child Left Behind" which is still being attacked by Republican Conservatives in the States.  It needed some tweaks but it was a good idea that Senator Ted Kennedy fully supported along with President Bush.

My grandchildren are read to by my kids all the time -- it shows up in how well they are doing in school. My son brings a book home every time he travels and has been doing it since his son was very young. RIF was worth every nickel because reading is the basis for all that we do throughout life from reading a newspaper or book to reading recipe's to reading how to do something you have never done around your home and the list is endless.  No child should be left behind when it comes to reading because it is something that stays with them throughout their whole life.  That also means they need start to the day with breakfast to be able to do their best and be able to concentrate.  If you are hungry, concentration is hard.

Worked many book fairs when my kids were in school, bought a lot of books, and now my daughter is doing the same with my two granddaughters.  Kids love going to book fairs at their school so they can pick out a book, take it home, show their parents, and have it read to them or the child read the book to their parents.  At one school my children attended, we had a fund so every child in the school could buy a book at the book fair.  Remember one little girl in first grade who was in a foster home with her siblings leaving the book fair clutching her book.  Later that morning when I worked with her on her reading, we read the book, and she gave me a hug to thank me as I helped her pick it out and paid for her book.  All these years later it still touches my heart and wonder how I was ever in the same party with these bunch of heartless Republicans today because I believe in public education and helping those that need the help the most.

You want to end the cycle of poverty?  Give these young kids a good education.  Instead many red states like mine are cutting back on education to fund tax cuts for the wealthy.  In our case, the Court ruled the tax cut was against the Constitution so now Oklahoma Republicans want to change the way judges are chosen.

Looking back at 1996 and the War on Poverty signed into law by Clinton and pushed by the GOP, it was actually a culmination of the conservative attacks against the poor starting with Barry Goldwater's run for President.  President Bush tried to use the words 'compassionate' conservative to describe himself because unlike a lot of conservatives he believed in helping the poor and those less fortunate. Shame he had Dick Cheney as his VP.   This country went from the War on Poverty of the 60's started by LBJ to end poverty to undermining of the War on Poverty 50 years later by the GOP by cutting food stamps, unemployment benefits, and welfare payments treating the poor like second class citizens.

One thing that bothered me out of the Agriculture Committee in the House in 2013 chaired by Frank Lucas was the drastic cut to food stamps while keeping most of the subsidies to the big farmers some of who are in Congress.  Lucas subsidies are small compared to other members some who get over $1M. Committee chairman Lucas said that the bill’s proposed cuts to SNAP “won’t take a calorie off the plate of anyone who needs help.”  Something is wrong with this picture when a Chairman who receives subsidies says cuts to SNAP food program for the poor won't hurt them.  My comeback is that all farm subsidies should be discontinued for any farmer making over $75,000 a year.  The very idea that the US Taxpayer pays for subsidies to some of the big corporate farms and members of Congress makes me furious.

To this day, I never figured out President Clinton's going along with the GOP led by Speaker Gingrich to undermine the safety net for the poor.  Not everyone on food stamps or assistance is a 'Welfare Queen' as declared by Ronald Reagan.  One big problem at the state level more then any welfare fraud has been the inept Department of Human Services in some states like Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Florida for starters.

Oklahoma DHS was so bad it had to pay $6M to a New York advocacy group who exposed how bad they were so would expect that now they are fixing the problems.  WRONG!  In this article from The Oklahoman, it details the first report of the independent group which shows DHS needs help to improve child welfare practices which they were told to fix by the Legislature.  Guess they couldn't handle the fixes:
THREE out-of-state experts who are monitoring the state's child welfare reform efforts rapped the Department of Human Services pretty good in their first progress report Wednesday. The report also included this message for the Legislature and the general public: Their help is also needed.
Think Progress has the history of the War on Poverty from LBJ to the current time which spans 50 years.  Still trying to figure out why Republican Conservatives were and are so against those less fortunate and what is their objection to giving them a helping hand.  Makes no sense.  But it made no sense to me that in 1996, President Clinton gave into Speaker Gingrich and Republicans:
In 1996, President Clinton signed the law that did away with guaranteed income assistance for poor families with children and replaced it with Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). The program provided states with federal block grants to support income assistance and other services for low-income families with children and included a “work first” requirement. 
The GOP-backed measure was based on the principle that “Having children out of wedlock is wrong — not simply economically unwise for the individuals involved or a financial burden on society, but morally wrong.” Even Clinton’s Department of Health and Human Services Secretary, Donna E. Shalala, fully embraced the argument in a comment that stigmatized single mothers, telling Newsweek, “I don’t like to put this in moral terms, but I do believe that having children out of wedlock is just wrong,” In fact, the original bill “appropriated $250 million over five years for ‘chastity training‘ for poor single mothers.”
In the lead-up to today's attacks on the safety net, we had former MA Governor Romney running for President when he talked about The 47 percent at a fundraiser for wealthy donors in FL.
The height of the GOP opposition came during Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, when the candidate argued that 47 percent of Americans are “dependent upon government.” Speaking to donors in the days following the election, the former Massachusetts governor echoed the arguments of the 1960s, speculating that Obama won because he was “very generous” to his base. “The President’s campaign,” he said, “focused on giving targeted groups a big gift—so he made a big effort on small things. Those small things, by the way, add up to trillions of dollars.” 
Romney’s running mate, House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI), authored budgets that would make extreme cuts in the social safety net laid down by Johnson’s War on Poverty, and disproportionately impact women and people of color. For instance, under Ryan’s leadership, the GOP budget would repeal the Affordable Care Act, a law that provides health care security for millions of working poor Americans by expanding Medicaid for individuals and families earning above 138 percent of the federal poverty line, push more than 12 million Americans out of the food stamps program, and secure steep reductions for child care, Head Start, job training, Pell Grants, housing, energy assistance, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and TANF. The majority of those who rely on these programs are the groups who were the targets of attacks on the War on Poverty over the last half-century.
Just when I thought the Republican Party couldn't get any dumber after the 2012 Presidential campaign when it comes to the unemployed, I have been proven wrong once again with the latest out from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor on how Republicans need to spin their lack of support for the unemployment bill.  Sitting here shaking my head realizing the GOP can be that dumb!
House GOP Issues Unemployment Insurance Talking PointsBy Matt FullerPosted at 5:52 p.m. on Jan. 7 
House Republican leadership sent out four talking points Tuesday for GOP members who may be worried that Democrats have some traction on the unemployment insurance issue. 
Here is the full memo: 
  • For every American out of work, it’s a personal crisis for them and their family. That’s why House Republicans remain focused on creating jobs and growing the economy.
  • Dozens of House-passed jobs bills remain sitting in the Democratic-run Senate awaiting action, including the SKILLS Act which helps long-term unemployed get training often needed to re-enter the workforce.
  • Washington has lost its priorities if it’s more focused on making unemployment easier to tolerate than it is getting people back to work and restoring independence all together.
  • If Democrats can produce a plan that is fiscally responsible as well as does something to actually create jobs, the House will give it proper consideration. Until then, our focus will remain where it belongs: on creating jobs and putting Americans back to work.
The memo also provided a link to the website of Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, where members can read “more details about House-passed jobs bills awaiting action in the Democratic-run Senate.” 
Anyone with a brain knows that any jobs bills that passed the House left a lot to be desired like everything but leave it to the GOP to spin a narrative devoid of facts.  Voters need to realize that this worthless GOP House cares more about making the President look bad then getting anything done.

Suggested on Twitter today:
Think it is time Congress got paid by the hour instead of a flat rate.  US Treas could save money w/so few days GOP House works!  
Big question is why are they paid full time for part-time work?  The GOP House plans to work less days this year then last year when they were the least productive House in history.  Now they are out to break that record.

If you are in a Republican Congressional District, please help get out the vote to oust some of these worthless Congressman taking our tax dollars and doing little!

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