Saturday, September 21, 2013

The LuLac Edition #2522, September 21st, 2013

Congressman Matt Cartwright. (Photo: LuLac archives).


The GOP controlled Congress voted to increase hunger in America the other day. These fat and happy leaders who have theirs are hellbent on denying people a step up. The good news is the votes are getting closer as the fraud of this GOP leadership and its Tea Party ilk are becoming increasing evident to thinking Americans. Our own Congressman Cartwright quoted the late Ronald Reagan in pointing out the insanity of this latest punitive measure by a bunch of mean spirited “Represenhtatives of……..whoever the hell they are representing because it certainly isn’t the people.  
Rep. Cartwright voted against the “Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act”, legislation which cuts food aid (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program/SNAP) by nearly $40 billion, denying basic food for nearly 4 million Americans next year. The measure passed by a vote of 217 to 210.
“Today, I joined with religious and hunger prevention leaders across the county in standing up for America’s families who are struggling to put food on the table, including 28,000 here in Pennsylvania’s 17th District,” Rep. Cartwright said. “Voting against draconian cuts that will take the food out the mouths of nearly 4 million Americans next year was the right thing to do. These devastating cuts will harm children, seniors, veterans, and Americans looking for work.”
“SNAP is a vital tool to fight hunger and help unemployed Americans feed their families as they seek new employment, send their children to school, and get themselves back on their feet. More than 90% of people on SNAP are children, the elderly, disabled, or already working, and yet they are struggling to put food on the table as SNAP benefits amount to only $1.40 per meal here in Pennsylvania,” Rep. Cartwright stated.
The bill contains a number of provisions that ignore the reality of a sluggish job market and unemployment, which is at 7.5% here in Pennsylvania. For example, the bill would end governors’ ability to waive SNAP’s harsh time limit for people looking for work in time of high unemployment. Further, the House bill will cut school lunches for over 200,000 children and eliminate food assistance for 170,000 veterans.
“Not only is this bill harmful to the most vulnerable, it will weaken our nation’s farm and rural economies and jeopardize any chance of enactment of a new farm bill to support our nation’s farmers, ranchers, food security, conservation, rural communities,” Rep. Cartwright stated.
“I agree with Former President Reagan, who said, ‘As long as there is one person in this country who is hungry, that’s one person too many, and something must be done about it.’ As too many children and seniors go to bed hungry each night, my vote today rejecting these shameful cuts was a vote for enacting a bipartisan Farm Bill that restores essential nutrition initiatives for nearly 50 million Americans,” Rep. Cartwright said.

Pope Francis I. (Photo: The Guardian). 


You just knew when Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio became Pope things were going to change at least in the language coming from the Holy See. Here is a guy who eschewed the ermine stoles of past Pontiffs, paid his own hotel bill and decided to live in small quarters inside the Papal compound.
In an interview with The American, a magazine put out by the Jesuits he said the church needed to focus in on the person and not make judgements on people. He said that the Church as an institution has to rid itself of its obsession with small minded rules that focus on sex, gay rights and abortion. Now to be clear, the Pope is not advocating gay priests, abortion and even women priests but what he was pointing to was the minutia certain Catholic Bishops have been dealing with in their churches.
Case in point, I don’t think any Bishop has a right to deny communion to a politician that is pro choice or is pro life and votes for a health care bill that gives people the opportunity to buy contraception. All it is an opportunity to obtain those services, and nothing more.
The Pope also decried abortion as part of our throw away society and even though that was seen as an olive branch to the church conservatives, it was also a common sense thing to say. Abortion should be last a resort but it does remain a resort for people who choose that route.
It is refreshing to see a Roman Catholic leader still adhere to the true principles of the church which are preaching the gospel of humanity instead of trying to tell people how to run their sexual lives.
And I think it is freaking hysterical that the same right wing conservatives who wring their hands about how we have to get back to the principles of our founding fathers think Francis is out of line when he gets down to the basics of what Christinanity was founded upon, Faith, Hope and Charity.


Let’s put this one health care rumor to rest being spouted by people opposed to Obamacare. No one can dime the system by contracting a disease, then signing up for the Affordable Care Act and then opt out of it. Like all insurance, there are enrollment periods. The first enrollment period starts from October through March 2013, 2014. You can enroll in a health care exchange program. After that, like all insurance, there is an enrollment period from October through December. THAT’S IT!!! 
So if you hear that the costs of this are gong to be driven up by transient users of the Affordable Care Act, that’s a lie. As a matter of fact it is out and out BULLSHIT. I don’t know anyone who plans a heart attack, cancer or stroke. The people who are opposing Obama care are going to look as silly as the people who said that Presidents Clinton and Obama were going to their precious guns away because they opposed assault ban rifles in the hands of average Joes. You still have your guns and in five years, you’ll have cheaper health care.
Luzerne County Councilman Rick Williams. (Photo: LuLac archives). 


Okay, okay, that headline doesn’t mean someone is going to revive the old Sunday Independent newspaper, but it does mean Independent Luzerne County Council member Rick Williams has penned some thoughts on how the County has been running and what the Council’s impact has been. Here are his thoughts.
Dear Editor
Less than two years ago, the new Luzerne County Home Rule government began to change the way Luzerne County governs itself. As I listen to residents throughout the county, I am often asked: "So what's really different, except now there are 11 council members instead of 3 commissioners?"
When it comes to reforming the past practices of Luzerne County government, most people would like to see major changes happen quickly. From my perspective as the only Independent on the County Council, important changes are happening, though not as quickly as we would like. Changing government is not simple. But progress is being made.
County Council is now implementing sound fiscal and budget practices that have put us on a path to pay down our debt and budget our money wisely.
We are modernizing, improving efficiencies and increasing transparency in county government.
New systems are being put in place to improve services to citizens by raising performance expectations, while simultaneously treating county staff fairly and with respect.
Many dedicated citizens, not previously included in past political processes, are now serving on boards, authorities and commissions.
And the Council is considering long term policies to improve the health, safety and economic development of our county to make Luzerne County an even better place to live, work, and visit.
I am running for a second term on Luzerne County Council to continue this work because I believe these changes are essential to achieving ethical, excellent and accountable county government….the level of service the people of Luzerne County expect and deserve.
I hope citizens will consider the hard work that the Council has devoted to building a foundation for the future and will support me with a vote in the November 5th election.
Rick Williams


At 4:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Watch out the powers don’t assassinate another Pope!
This guy acts like a human being. How can other Church members specifically Bishop
Somebody? criticize him? Don’t they remember he is infallible or is that just on issues on which they agree?

At 5:14 PM, Anonymous Junction said...


In regards to the articles on the Pope and Obama Care.
Yes it is change to life as we have it now. As they say if you do nothing you get nothing. With the Pope's new take on the Catholic church we must give it time and see how it all works out. Good or bad at least he is doing something that he feels will be for the good of many.
The same goes for the new health care act.
Maybe we should just sit around and do nothing and keep fighting over doing something that could be a betterment to many.

At 5:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

More Church News, specifically Local Catholic Church News! Here we go again in the Circle Game. Another Priest "Goes Down!" If the Church has addressed and corrected their problems, why has this pervert been moved around so much. Did they put him at Little Flower because there were no boy kids there for him to molest? This smells bad. Looks to me like they knew well there was a problem. He was composing a homily! Right! I'd be sure he has a lot of time for composing, but not in Rome. Rather in a dark dank purgatory somewhere for life! Hell there is nowhere left to transfer the bastard except to Hell. More kids will I hope be coming forward on this guy who deserves to share a cell with Jerry Sandusky. This shit really pisses me off!

At 10:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"County Council is now implementing sound fiscal and budget practices that have put us on a path to pay down our debt and budget our money wisely." Williams said

What's Williams smoking

He just approved anther 5.5 million dollar loan in the 2013 budget he voted for. Gotta love these politicians

At 10:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Food stamps have figured in Americans' ideas about the poor for decades, from President Lyndon Johnson's vision of a Great Society to President Ronald Reagan's scorn for crooked "welfare queens" and President Bill Clinton's pledge to "end welfare as we know it."

Partisans tend to see what they want to see in the food stamp program: barely enough bread and milk to sustain hungry children, or chips and soda — maybe even steak and illicit beer — for cheaters and layabouts gaming the system.

Those differences were on display Thursday when the House voted to cut almost $4 billion a year, or 5 percent, from the roughly $80 billion-a-year program.

The House bill would tighten eligibility standards, allow states to impose new work requirements and permit drug testing for recipients, among other cuts to spending. A Senate bill would cut around one-tenth of the amount of the House bill, or $400 million a year.

Republicans argued that work requirements target the aid to the neediest people. Democrats said the swelling rolls — more than 47 million people are now using the food stamps, or 1 in 7 Americans — show that the program is working at a time of high unemployment and great need.

These days, people in the nation's largest food aid program pay with plastic.

These special debit cards are swiped at convenience store or supermarket checkouts to pay for groceries. The cards can't be used for alcohol or cigarettes or nonfood items such as toothpaste, paper towels or dog chow. Junk food or high-priced treats are OK.

The first food stamps were a temporary plan to help feed the hungry toward the end of the Great Depression of the 1930s. The government subsidized the cost of blue stamps that poor people used to buy food from farm surpluses.

The idea was revived in the 1960s and expanded under Johnson into a permanent program that sold food coupons to low-income people at a discount. Beginning in the 1970s, food stamps were given to the poor for free. Benefit cards began replacing paper in the 1980s, a move designed to reduce fraud and ease the embarrassment food stamp users felt at the cash register.

Food stamps aren't the government's only way to feed those in need. There are more than a dozen smaller programs, including the one for Women, Infants and Children, and free and reduced-price school lunches.

In 2008, food stamps were officially renamed the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. Most people still know the name that's been familiar since 1939.

In a nation of 314 million people, more than 47 million are eating with food stamps each month.

Who are they? Children and teenagers make up almost half, according to the Agriculture Department. About 10 percent are seniors.

The vast majority don't receive any cash welfare. Many households that shop with SNAP cards have someone who's employed but qualify for help because of low earnings.

The average food stamp allotment is $133 a person per month. The monthly amount a family gets depends on the household's size, earnings and expenses, as well as changing food prices and other factors.

Households can qualify for help with earnings up to 30 percent higher than the federal poverty level, making the limit about $30,000 for a family of four this year. These households are limited to no more than $2,000 in savings, or $3,250 if there are elderly or disabled residents.

At 10:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

- continued
In addition, most states allow people to qualify automatically for food stamps if they are eligible for certain other welfare programs, even if they don't meet the strict SNAP standards. Although food stamps are paid for with federal tax dollars, states administer the program and have some choices in setting requirements.

Language in Clinton's 1996 welfare overhaul required able-bodied adults who aren't raising children to work or attend job training or similar programs to qualify for food stamps after three months. But those work requirements across most of the nation have been waived for several years because of the high unemployment rate.

People who are living in the United States illegally aren't eligible for food stamps. Most adults who immigrate legally aren't eligible during their first five years in the country.

The cost to taxpayers more than doubled over just four years, from $38 billion in 2008 to $78 billion last year.

Liberals see a program responding to rising need at a time of economic turmoil. Conservatives see out-of-control spending, and many Republicans blame President Barack Obama. While seeking the GOP presidential nomination in 2012, Newt Gingrich labeled Obama the "food stamp president."

Some of the growth can be attributed to Obama's food stamp policies, but Congress' budget analysts blame most of it on the economy.

The big factors:

—The SNAP program is an entitlement, meaning everyone who is eligible can get aid, no matter the cost to taxpayers.

—Millions of jobs were lost in the recession that hit in 2007. Unemployment is still high, and many people who have jobs are working fewer hours or for lower pay than before, meaning more people are eligible.

—Obama's 2009 economic stimulus temporarily increased benefit amounts; that boost is set to expire on Nov. 1. Time limits for jobless adults without dependents are still being waived in most of the country.

—Food stamp eligibility requirements were loosened by Congress in 2002 and 2008, before Obama became president.

—Fluctuating food prices have driven up monthly benefit amounts, which are based on a low-cost diet.

The number of people using food stamps appears to be leveling off this year, and long-term budget projections suggest the number will begin to fall as the economy improves.

Why is it taking so long? Although the jobless rate has dropped from its 2009 peak, it remains high, leaving a historically large number of people eligible for food stamps. Since the recession began, a bigger portion of people who are eligible have signed up for food stamps than in the past.

Many people who enrolled during the worst days of the recession still qualify for SNAP cards, even if they are doing a little better now. For example, they may have gone from being laid off to working a low-paying or part-time job.

The Congressional Budget Office predicts in about a decade the number of people using food stamps will drop to 34 million, or about 1 in every 10 people.

Abuse was a worry from the start. The 1939 food stamp program was launched in May and by that October a retailer had been caught violating the rules.

There's been progress along the way, especially after the nationwide adoption of SNAP cards, which are harder to sell for cash than paper coupons were. The government says such "trafficking" in food stamps has fallen significantly over the past two decades, from about 4 cents on the dollar in 1993 to a penny per dollar in 2008.

But many lawmakers say fraud is still costing taxpayers too much. Some people lie about their income, apply for benefits in multiple states or fail to quit the program when their earnings go up. Recipients must tell their state agency within 10 days if their income goes over the limit.

Some stores illegally accept food stamps to pay for other merchandise, even beer or electronics, or give out cash at a cut rate in exchange for phony food purchases, which are then reimbursed by the government.

At 10:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

- more
In Congress, it's a marriage of convenience.

Food stamp policy has been packaged in the same bill with farm subsidies and other agricultural programs since the 1970s. It was a canny way of assuring that urban lawmakers who wanted the poverty program would vote for farm spending. That worked until this year, when conservatives balked at the skyrocketing cost of food stamps.

In June, a farm bill that included food stamps was defeated in the Republican-led House because fiscal conservatives felt it didn't cut the program deeply enough.

In response, GOP leaders split the food and farm programs in two. The House passed the farm version in July and the food stamp version on Thursday. Both passed with narrow votes.

The House and Senate versions must be reconciled before the five-year farm bill can become law, and that won't be an easy task.

Food stamps remain in the farm bill passed by the Senate. That bill made only a half-percent cut to food stamps and the Democratic-led Senate will be reluctant to cut more deeply or to evict the poverty program from its home in the farm bill. Obama supported the cuts in the Senate bill, but has opposed any changes beyond that. The White House threatened to veto the House food stamp bill.

The current farm and food law expires at the end of the month.

If the two sides can't agree by then, a likely scenario, Congress could vote to extend the law as it is, at the expense of many planned updates to agricultural policy. There won't be much urgency to do that until the end of the year, when some dairy supports expire and milk prices could rise.

Other farm supports won't expire until next year, but farmers have been frustrated with the drawn-out debate that has now lasted two years, saying they need more government certainty as they manage their farm operations.

SNAP benefits would still be available for now. While farm bills set food stamp policy, the money is paid out through annual appropriations bills that so far have left benefits intact.

Check it out
Agriculture Department:

At 10:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...’ll have cheaper health care.

But you'll end up waiting or worse.

"An Ohio clinic that was touted by Obama while he was speaking on health care reform is now blaming ObamaCare after it was forced to cut $330 million from its budget.

The Cleveland Clinic, which is the largest employer in Northeast Ohio with about 39,000 workers in the region, announced the cuts to its 2014 budget at a meeting Wednesday.

A spokeswoman for the clinic tells Fox News the clinic is being forced to cut back to prepare for increased costs and decreased revenue under the health care reform law.

These changes will include offering early retirement to approximately 3,000 employees, reducing operational costs, and then layoffs as needed.

The clinic says its main priority is to continue to provide a high quality of care during the transition, an attribute that led Obama to tout it in 2009 as an example of what hospitals could be under ObamaCare.

In a press conference in July of that year, Obama said the Cleveland Clinic is an example of health care that works “well.

It seems as though the Cleveland Clinic was operating just fine before Obamacare came along. Now, of course, layoffs are expected, operation costs are increasing, and Northeastern Ohio's largest employer is uncertain what the future will hold for its employees.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney did not comment when asked about the budget cuts to the Cleveland Clinic at a press briefing."

At 9:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love Rick Williams, I'll be voting for him.

That is all.

At 3:38 PM, Anonymous Joe V said...

So Yonk, at what point do we cut back on all these cradle to grave benefits? Or we don't...just let those mean spirited Republicans and crazed Tea Partyers continue to give more to the have nots?
As always, you friend
Joe V

At 12:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vote out the incumbents who raised taxes in 2012. Mr. Williams did nothing when a budget officer stated the County Manager spent 2.4 million dollars more of tax payer money that was not authorized by Council. Do you remember the show Hogan's Heroes? "I see nothing" is a good sentence that Mr. Williams did not include in his letter to editor.

At 12:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Williams wanted a higher tax increase in 2012.


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