In an interview, Romney says that he’s “not concerned about the very poor” because they have “an ample safety net”

February 2, 2012

“Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney, confident after his Florida primary victory, ended up inviting criticism Wednesday when he said he’s “not concerned about the very poor” because they have an “ample safety net.”
“No, no, no, no, no, no, no,” Romney told reporters on his campaign plane when asked about the comments. “No, no, no. You’ve got to take the whole sentence, all right, it’s mostly the same.” He said his remark was consistent with his theme throughout the race, adding: “My energy is going to be devoted to helping middle-income people.”"

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Federal Household Consumption Surveys: ‘Poor consume like the Rich’

January 30, 2012

“A collection of federal household consumption surveys collected by pollster Scott Rasmussen finds that 74 percent of the poor own a car or truck, 70 percent have a VCR, 64 percent have a DVD, 63 percent have cable or satellite, 53 percent have a video game system, 50 percent have a computer, 30 percent have two or more cars and 23 percent use TiVo.”

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National Center on Family Homelessness: Child homelessness up 33% from 2007 to 2010

December 14, 2011

“One in 45 children in the USA — 1.6 million children — were living on the street, in homeless shelters or motels, or doubled up with other families last year, according to the National Center on Family Homelessness. The numbers represent a 33% increase from 2007, when there were 1.2 million homeless children, according to a report the center is releasing Tuesday.”

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Impoverished Americans in the Northeast suffer from the cold as Congress considers cutting more than $1 billion from last year’s $4.7 billion Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program that served nearly 9 million households

December 13, 2011

“Many poor and elderly people on fixed incomes struggle with rising heating bills that can run into thousands of dollars. That can force them to cut back on other necessities like food or medicine. “The winter of 2011-12 could be memorable for the misery and suffering of thousands of frigid households,’’ New Hampshire’s Concord Monitor newspaper said in an editorial. “Heating oil prices are expected to hit record highs, and federal fuel assistance may reach a record low for recent years.””

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House Republicans introduce legislation to extend the payroll tax cut into 2012 that would also restructure unemployment compensation, extend write-offs for capital investments, postpone cuts to physician reimbursements from Medicare for two years, overhaul the federal flood insurance program, prevent top income earners from receiving unemployment benefits, and expedite the approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline

December 9, 2011

“House Republicans introduced legislation that would extend a payroll tax cut into 2012, restructure unemployment compensation, extend write-offs for capital investments and postpone cuts to physician reimbursements from Medicare for two years. The bill, backed by House Speaker John Boehner, includes provisions to cover the cost to the Treasury. Those items include extending a pay freeze for civilian federal employees, selling portions of the wireless spectrum and limiting tax credits for illegal immigrants. The bill also includes language designed to expedite approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada, revamp the federal flood-insurance program and prevent top earners from receiving federal unemployment benefits or food stamps.”

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U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO): Foster children over-prescribed psychiatric drugs

December 1, 2011

“The GAO’s report, based on a two-year-long investigation, looked at five states — Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, Oregon and Texas. Thousands of foster children were being prescribed psychiatric medications at doses higher than the maximum levels approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in these five states alone. And hundreds of foster children received five or more psychiatric drugs at the same time despite absolutely no evidence supporting the simultaneous use or safety of this number of psychiatric drugs taken together.”

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Number of New Jersey residents receiving food stamps has doubled in the past 4 years

November 28, 2011

“As of September, the most recent data released by the state Department of Human Services, more than 400,000 households and nearly 822,000 people were enrolled in the food stamp program, meaning nearly one out of every 10 residents in New Jersey receives assistance.”

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$180 Billion Appropriations Spending Deal finalized on Capitol Hill as Republicans make spending concessions

November 14, 2011

“A more than $182 billion spending package took final shape Monday after an intense week of negotiations between the House and Senate that posed a first test of how the two political parties will implement appropriations caps agreed to in the August debt accord.

Republicans gave back hundreds of millions that the House had previously cut from food programs, but the GOP also betrayed its own appetite for increased science and infrastructure funding. Democrats protected Amtrak and community policing priorities, yet in a blow to Wall Street reforms, they were forced to accept a one-third cut from President Barack Obama’s budget request for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

In keeping with the August debt-limit agreement, the bill continues the downward pressure on discretionary spending — and on balance, appears about $3 billion under the amount comparable accounts were at last year.”

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Reuters: How to break the Supercommittee’s tax increase roadblock

November 14, 2011

“First, phase out the mortgage-interest deduction. It costs $100 billion a year and disproportionately benefits the well-to-do. Worse, it can goad people into buying homes they can’t afford. Start by limiting the deduction to only principal residences and reducing the maximum amount of eligible mortgage debt to $500,000. Full deductibility can then gradually yield to ever-smaller partial deductions. We estimate the savings over 10 years could be about $200 billion.

Next, we should eliminate corporate tax breaks. Abolishing a provision that rewards companies that use “last-in-first-out” accounting would raise about $70 billion; ending tax breaks for corporate jets would generate $3 billion; and stopping subsidies for oil and gas companies gives us about $40 billion over 10 years. Reducing farm subsidies could cut $28 billion. And subjecting “carried interest” to the same tax rate as regular income would generate $20 billion.”

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U.S. Census Bureau released the new comprehensive poverty measure Monday, revealing that 16% of Americans lived in poverty in 2010

November 8, 2011

“The Census Bureau on Monday released a new, comprehensive poverty measure that painted a more dismal picture of the nation’s economic landscape than the official measure from September.

The report found that 49.1 million Americans — 16 percent of the population — lived in poverty in 2010, which is higher than the 46.2 million Americans found to live in poverty by the official measure released in September.

The new report marked the culmination of a years-long effort by the Census Bureau to come up with a poverty measure that takes into account the huge amounts of money in social services benefits provided to the needy, as well as their expenses for things such as medical care and payroll taxes.

The increased level of poverty revealed by the supplemental measure is at odds with what some poverty experts expected. The increased level of poverty was fueled by the sharply higher levels of poverty among senior citizens found by the alternative measure.”

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Hardcastle: Federal entitlement programs belong at the State level

November 8, 2011

“The U.S. Constitution is unequivocally clear on this issue. The 10th Amendment expressly states that if a power is not specifically granted to the federal government in the Constitution, it is automatically a state right/ responsibility.

Federal entitlement programs should be phased out and replaced by state-run programs. Initially, Medicare and Medicaid money should be given to states in block grants for the states to manage. Welfare, food stamps, unemployment compensation, Social Security Disability, Section 8 housing assistance, etc., should be passed to the states to manage.

State and local governments are in the absolute best position to know the specific needs and circumstances of their citizens. If a resident of a state doesn’t like how their state is taxing and spending, they have the option of remaining in America and moving to another state that taxes and spends in a manner consistent with their values and beliefs.”

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America now has the largest wealth gap between old and young persons on record

November 7, 2011

“Older Americans weathered the economic storm considerably better than their younger counterparts, contributing to the largest wealth gap on record.

Households headed by those 65 or older had a median net worth 47 times greater than those headed by a person under 35, according to an analysis of 2009 U.S. Census data by the Pew Research Center.

That amounts to a median net worth of $170,494 for those 65 and older, compared with just $3,662 for those in the younger generation, according to the analysis.

Saddled with debt and stagnant wages, the younger generation tends to be marrying later and entering job markets later. They’re also more likely to be minorities and single parents, experts said.”

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Due to lengthy time without work, now only 48% of unemployed Americans collect benefits

November 7, 2011

“The jobs crisis has left so many people out of work for so long that most of America’s unemployed are no longer receiving unemployment benefits.

Early last year, 75 percent were receiving checks. The figure is now 48 percent — a shift that points to a growing crisis of long-term unemployment. Nearly one-third of America’s 14 million unemployed have had no job for a year or more.

Congress is expected to decide by year’s end whether to continue providing emergency unemployment benefits for up to 99 weeks in the hardest-hit states. If the emergency benefits expire, the proportion of the unemployed receiving aid would fall further.”

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U.S. Census Bureau: Highest level of extreme poverty since agency began measuring poverty in 1964

November 6, 2011

“According to the U.S. Census Bureau, a higher percentage of Americans is living in extreme poverty than they have ever measured before. In 2010, we were told that the economy was recovering, but the truth is that the number of the “very poor” soared to heights never seen previously. Back in 1993 and back in 2009, the rate of extreme poverty was just over 6 percent, and that represented the worst numbers on record. But in 2010, the rate of extreme poverty hit a whopping 6.7 percent. That means that one out of every 15 Americans is now considered to be “very poor”. For many people, this is all very confusing because their guts are telling them that things are getting worse and yet the mainstream media keeps telling them that everything is just fine. Hopefully this article will help people realize that the plight of the poorest of the poor continues to deteriorate all across the United States. In addition, hopefully this article will inspire many of you to lend a hand to those that are truly in need.”

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U.S. Census Bureau makes changes to the definition of Poverty and the Poverty Line

November 6, 2011

“Until this month, the poverty line has been calculated the same way for half a century. It was developed in 1964 as part of Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty. Ever since, a debate has ensued about how to determine who’s truly poor.

What’s the controversy? For starters, the original poverty line is pegged to only one thing: food costs as a share of annual income. But now, the Census Bureau will count other factors that might drive people into poverty, says Tim Smeeding, director of the Institute for Research and Poverty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. These include, say, medical expenses and the higher rents in Manhattan versus Memphis. It also will take into account what the US government provides people to fight poverty, including food stamps, public housing, and refundable tax credits, Mr. Smeeding adds.

The new benchmark for poverty to be unveiled Nov. 7 – which has the catchy name of “the supplemental poverty measure” – also expands the definition of a family. Back in the ’60s, it was two adults and two children. Now, it is allowed that a single parent might be at the helm of a family.

The old poverty measurement won’t go away. For continuity’s sake, it’s useful to have the year-over-year, decade-over-decade comparison. But experts say the new supplemental poverty measure will offer a clearer window on the poor.”

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