March 17, 2014

Not News: Unrepentant UC-Santa Barbara Prof Who Destroyed Pro-Life Sign Charged With Assault

Did you catch the story about the pro-abortion demonstration at the religious college where a pro-life professor grabbed a protester’s sign and destroyed it? Of course not, because there’s no such story. If it had happened, it would be news, and garner significant attention.

The same thing happened earlier this month at the University of California-Santa Barbara — if you switch the players. As seen in a video at the YouTube site of the Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust (warning: profanity), a UCSB assistant professor took a sign away from a participant in a campus pro-life outreach effort. Flanked by two students, she took the sign back to her office and destroyed it. Now feminist studies Associate Professor Mireille Miller-Young “is facing vandalism, battery, and robbery charges.” The UCSB incident has, as far as I can tell, despite the prof’s utter lack of contrition, has gone virtually uncovered by the establishment press. The related police report follows the jump (click on the images to enlarge):

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NYT Attempts to Limit Damage to Dems From Obama and Obamacare to HealthCare.gov

One of the more humorous attempts at furious spin this weekend occurred over at the New York Times. Jonathan Martin and Ashley Parker somehow managed to cover how association with President Barack Obama is becoming “poisonous” to Democratic Party candidates in this fall’s elections without identifying or even acknowledging the existence of the primary reason for his toxicity — namely his repeated guarantees, now all proven false, that “If you like your plan, doctor, medical provider, and prescription drug regimen, you can keep them, period.”

Martin and Parker claim that the Dems’ biggest hurdles are HealthCare.gov’s awful rollout and the administration’s inept marketing of Obamacare (HT Powerline; bolds are mine):

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Dependency Uber Alles

Filed under: Economy,Scams,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:59 am

That must be the real goal of governors who have thwarted modest food stamp reform.

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This column went up at PJ Media on Saturday and was teased here at BizzyBlog on Sunday.

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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is a such a clever guy. He has just milked the social welfare system out of over $450 million per year Congress and President Barack Obama allegedly did not wish to spend. For doing so, he is being treated as a hero. Other state governors have already copied Cuomo’s gambit.

That the program commonly known as food stamps, technically known as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), is badly in need of reform should be beyond dispute. The number of households receiving SNAP benefits grew from 26.9 million at the end of fiscal 2007 to a peak of 47.8 million in December 2012, an increase of 78 percent. Total program costs and benefit payments are well over double what they were six years ago.

Though its post-recession performance has been the least impressive of any since the Great Depression, the economy has still managed to generate just over 8 million additional jobs in the 48 months since February 2010, the last month during which employers shed jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis. Until very recently, that growth in jobholders did little to halt the program’s runaway caseload, which grew by over 8 million during the first 33 months after that employment trough.

The first indications of a long overdue post-recession reversal in program participation occurred this past November and December. The total number of recipients fell by over 700,000 during those two months, and came in below 47 million for the first time since July 2012. Unfortunately, Cuomo and his copycats appear determined to slow down even that minimal amount of progress.

The Empire State governor’s move gets around a loophole many in Congress thought it had eliminated.

Here is the foundation under which Cuomo was able to pull off his con:

… to calculate disposable income, the state takes your total income and subtracts some allowable deductions for essentials. Since things like rent and utilities are considered household necessities, they’re subtracted. To calculate how much a potential food stamp recipient spends on utilities, states used to collect multiple utility bills from each and calculate the average. To streamline things, they came up with a standard utility allowance.

I would argue that the “streamline” was also designed to grow the dependency rolls and increasing dependents’ degree of dependency. Out of thin air, the “standard utility allowance” creates phantom expenses applicants don’t really incur, thus qualifying more households for benefits, and others for higher benefits.

Sadly, this aspect of the law’s administration hasn’t changed. The fact that it hasn’t is why Congress failed to fix the problem it thought it had solved, and why the advertised cost savings won’t occur. Here’s what the law does:

… The measure … involved stopping a practice in multiple states — the use of a program popularly called “heat and eat” that allowed residents who receive as little as $1 in federal heating assistance to also qualify for additional Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits.

The 2014 farm bill raises the minimum threshold in state LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program) contributions to $20 for families to qualify for the extra food stamps.

States were even sending the $1 checks to households which don’t pay a utility bill for the sole purpose of increasing their SNAP benefits.

Even hardened leftists like Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow, advocacy groups like the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, and press outlets like Mother Jones recognized Congress’s move as an attempt at genuine reform.

So how did Andy Cuomo ruin things?

He simply increased the annual LIHEAP checks sent to affected families from $1 to $20.

Presto: 300,000 families will continue receiving excessive SNAP benefits. New York will spend $6 million (300,000 times $20) to ensure that an estimated $457 million per year in benefits continue to be overpaid.

Cuomo’s maneuver has proven too much for other governors to resist. Connecticut Democrat Dannel Malloy quickly followed suit, at an annual taxpayer cost of $67 million. Even alleged Republican Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania has sold out, at a cost of $300 million. Thus, barring new legislation or President Obama using his authoritarian instincts to actually save money (good luck with that), about half of the $8.6 billion Congress allegedly claimed it would save over five years has already evaporated. Other states will surely follow suit.

The social welfare community is naturally pleased as punch, because it believes that SNAP benefit levels are too low. They seldom if ever make serious arguments about benefit levels or how the calculation formulas should be changed in front of Congress, which I take as an indication that they don’t have a case.

Most local press accounts clearly favor the governors’ moves. National press coverage has been sparse, perhaps because the Politico, which to be fair at least described Cuomo as having “gamed” the law, is often the go-to place where stories worthy of wide national attention get buried. (Other national outlets seem to say, “Well, the Politico already covered it, so we don’t have to.”)

If President Obama or any Democrat in Washington really objects to what Cuomo and his co-conspirators have done, I haven’t heard about it. Their silence makes me wonder if they let the farm bill become law because they knew that “creative” governors would quickly get around it. If so, the “stupid party” once again got outsmarted.

SNAP’s goal should be to keep people with inadequate financial resources from inadequate nutrition. Unfortunately, the real objective for far too long has been to convert the program into an automatic entitlement any time one suffers even a small break or a temporary steep reduction in their income.

38 states have eliminated the program’s old “asset test,” which kept households with over $2,500 in the bank from receiving benefits (oh, the inhumanity!). Over 30 states have also increased the program’s income eligibility threshold from the long-established 130 percent of the federal poverty level to as high as 200 percent. This has enabled some normally high-earning and well-off households with tens of thousands of dollars in liquid assets whose breadwinners are temporarily unemployed to qualify.

This whole episode demonstrates how difficult if not impossible it will be to get federal spending, 70 percent of which consists of payments to individuals, under control before national insolvency “solves” the problem in a very painful way.

Monday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (031714)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:05 am

This open thread will stay at or near the top today. Rules are here. Possible comment fodder may follow. Other topics are also fair game.

Positivity: Halifax baby starts breathing again after being declared legally dead

Filed under: Life-Based News,Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Halifax, Nova Scotia (HT Life News):

Published on March 10, 2014

Robin Cyr’s fourth child has already packed a lifetime’s worth of emotional turmoil into her first 28 minutes in the world.

Cyr, 34, was told her baby girl had died just after being born in the IWK Health Centre in Halifax around 3 a.m. Saturday.

But shortly after getting the devastating news, a stuttering, breathless nurse rushed back into the room to say the baby had started breathing again.

“My aunt was there, and it’s a blessing because her prayers are very deep and strong,” said Cyr on Sunday, speaking in a whisper through tears at the hospital. “When she started praying, my baby came back.”

The big baby girl – who weighed nine pounds 14 ounces – got wedged in the birth canal during the delivery. Once she was born, Cyr lay on the bed waiting, for 25 minutes, for any sign of life.

“My aunt looked at me and said, ‘Your baby girl’s gone,’” she said, adding the baby’s body was taken out of the room after being declared dead. “Another nurse came over, two minutes later…she couldn’t talk. She was speechless, and another nurse came over and said, ‘Your baby’s breathing.’”

A flummoxed surgeon told Cyr’s family that he had no explanation for the seemingly impossible recovery.

“He said it’s a miracle,” said Cyr. “He said, ‘I’m very sorry I gave up on your baby when I did, because I turned around and she’s breathing on her own.’”

The chubby little girl – with an impressive shock of dark hair – is now breathing on her own in the neonatal intensive care unit, and looks like any other healthy newborn baby. …

Go here for the rest of the story.