Pennsylvania backlog on Food Stamp approvals caused by lack of caseworkers and focus on fraud.

                   Already being bashed for the amount of time it takes to process unemployment checks and home-energy assistance claims, Pennsylvania is also lacking in approving Food Stamp applications. It has compelled the Federal Government to order the state to improve its performance. Pennsylvania ranks among the worst in the country in processing Food Stamp applications within 30 days, which is a Federal Law. That is according to Enquirer examination of data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The USDA ranks Pennsylvania 39th on a list of 53 that includes the 50 states, District of Columbia, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Critics say the backlogs are caused by lack of caseworkers and emphasizing fraud prevention. Statistics say that Food Stamp fraud is quite rare. The results of the system being run this way is that families who are in need go withouts benefits they qualify for.

Anne Bale a spokeswoman for the Department of Public Welfare in Pennsylvania acknowledged the problem. She said the DPW, which oversees Pennsylvania’s Food Stamp program is working on a solution. The USDA ordered Pennsylvania to fix the problem in December 2012. She said one reason for the poor performance was the amount of people recieving benefits. There are 1.8 million Pennsylvanians on Food Stamps. The state also rank s 49th in job creation.

Bale blamed the poor performance on program recipients, saying they waited until the last minute to submit paperwork. If you are applying for the program, are the people informed of a time limit to fill out the paperwork. That seems like a cop out, a bad excuse. It seems more likely the delays are caused by the lack of caseworkers and the time spent looking for fraud.

According to USDA figures New York had 3.1 million SNAP program recipients, yet processed 90.94% of its benefits in the proper time frame. Florids has 3.5 million recipients, yet processed 94.01% in the proper time frame. Pennsylvania’s most recent timeliness rating was 81.44%, far below that of other states with far more program recipients. Any state below 90% must devise a plan that brings its timeliness up to 95% according to USDA rules.

The way this program is run is a direct reflection on Governor Tom Corbetts’s attitude about out of work or poor Pennsylvanians. He said they are to lazy and most are on drugs preventing them from improving themselves. Although statistics have show his opinions to be way off base. The Republican party as a whole looks upon those in need with disdain and attempted to cut SNAP benefits by 25% in a recent Farm Bill that Democrats smartly defeated. President Obama and the Democrats realized during the Great Recession that people needed help and provided it. Republicans, who caused the Great Recession could care less. They are focused on manufacturing scandals to impeach President Obama. Shows who cares about the people.

U.S. Representative Matt Cartwright (D-Pa) takes the Food Stamp Challenge, living on $4.50 a day.

            On Wednesday afternoon Rep.Matt Cartwright had a $.57 box of macaroni and cheese for dinner, with some iceberge lettuce topped with oil and vinegar and 2 slices of wheat bread. This was part of his 1 day protest designed to highight cuts in the proposed House Farm Bill. The plan is to eliminate $20 billion out of the $80 billion Food Stamp budget over the next decade.

Cartwright also ate 2 other small meals that kept his food intake under $4.50 for the day. That is the daily average for food under the SNAP Program per person. Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Ok) said that it is the most reform minded bill in decades. He said it would make needed SNAP cuts as well as eliminate $5 billion a year in subsidies paid to farmers, whether they grow crops or not. Why would a farm not growing crops get money from the Food Stamp Program?

The legislation would achieve some cuts by partially eliminating categorical eligibility. That automatically gives you food stamps if you sign up for other programs. People would still be eligible, but would have to apply. That is a good change. The House is debating 103 Amendments to the bill, including a Democrat proposal to eliminate the SNAP cuts. About three quarters of the 47 million recipients are families with children. There are 1.77 million recipients or 14% of the population in Pennsylvania

The Republican led House proposal would kick 2 million families off of the SNAP Program. That would have long term affects on the health of the family, but most importantly the children. Thr fact that Republicans do not understand that austerity doesn’t work is very perplexing. Europe was falling to pieces because of austerity measures. Cutting spending without increasing revenue doesn’t work. But in Republican fantsy land it doesn’t matter because they are making things harder on President Obama.

Republicans said they wanted dollar for dollar spending cuts and tax increases. They have gotten $4.00 in spending cuts for every $1.00 in tax increases. Lets also talk about $200 billion in corporate welfare in 2012 alone. That is 2 and 1/2 times the Food Stamp benefits and still about $40 billion more when you add in heat assistance. So corporations that don’t need money get it, but people struggling because of corporations like this crashing the economy get hit with cuts. I guess it only makes sense when you look at their campaign donations. But campaign finance reform is a battle for another day.

The Senate votes yes to extend corporate welfare to Tobacco Growers and no to stopping Food Stamp cuts.

               The Senate voted down an amendment by Kristen Gillibrand (D-Ny) to restore $4.1 billion in Food Stamp cuts, by reducing corporate welfare to a handful of crop insurance companies, mostly based overseas. Only 26 Senators voted yes. We can’t just blame Republicans this time, 28 Democrats joined all Republicans in voting against the amendment. If our government moves forward with these cuts, 500,000 low income families will lose an average of $90 a month.

             There are already cuts being made to the Food Stamp Program because of Federal Stimulus money drying up. The part that is disgusting is that Democrats are voting against a large part of their base. The job market is slowly recovering, many of the jobs out there are low wage, part time jobs that don’t help people get off of assistance. The private market is creating those type of jobs, the government jobs are being cut by the Sequester. Now is not the time to cut Food Stamps, once the unemployment rate goes below 7% then you can start considering ot, until then you are hurting people that Republican policies already hurt.

Food Stamps until President Obama took office were a program tgat generally was left alone by both parties. Every $1.00 that is spent on foid assistance programs generates $1.84 for the economy. That is almost doubling your investment, what other Government program does that? It is a program that helps the working poor, which the Grear Recession created a lot of. To attack the lower income class while leaving corporate welfare alone, which cost taxpayers almost $200 billion as opposed to Food Stamps costing $80 billion, is a slap in the face of the American public. Many of these same Senators voted to continue subsidizing Tobacco Growers just days before voting to take food out of a child’s mouth. Tell me lobbying had nothing to do with either of these votes. This is a heinous act of cowardice by a Congress that obviously is more concerned with campaign donations than with their constituents.

This cut in Food Stamps will result in a loss of 56,243 jobs. Every $1 billion cut from the SNAP Program results in the loss of 13,718 jobs. The Center for American Progress notes that the job losses will have the greatest effect on young workers. They account for a large share of workers in the food related industries. Is now the right time to inact these cuts?

Paul Ryans latest budget calks for $135 billion in cuts from the SNAP Program. That is heating and food assistance for the poor and the elderly, these are the people that should we should be cutting aid from? Seriously? These cuts to the SNAP Program would result in 1,851,930 jobs lost, is that good for the economy Mr. Ryan? Republicans sell these cuts by saying those on assistance are lazy, contrary to this Republican intentional misconception, most workers return to the workforce within a year of losing their jobs. But the low wages and part time hours created by the Private Market continue helping prople qualify for the program. Republicans are betting on the working poor not showing up at the polls to punish their policy of hurting the poor to make the rich richer.

Upward mobility is nearly in the U.S. Our People are stuck in perpetual poverty without the means to improve themselves. Every policy or Bill proposed by Republicans benefit the wealthy abd step on the throat of the poor. President Obama has been trying to create steps up the ladder to the middle class, only to be obstructed by greedy Republicans. But this time Democrats sold him out as well. Good looking out for your people and your President.

The overhyping of Welfare numbers while hiding corporate welfare numbers.

                Republicans like to harp on Welfare, there are to many people on it, it costs to much and people come to rely on the government instead of themselves. While saying this they hand out money to multibillion dollar corporations and reward companies who send jobs overseas. Apple alone avoided paying $9 billion in taxes last year, by using U.S. tax code loopholes.

Last year Welfare cost the country $80 billion. That seems like a hefty number, until you consider a few things. The Bush Tax Cuts have cost us approxamately $1.5 trillion since their inception. That is about $115 billion a year. These tax cuts were supposed to create jobs, where are they? Bush will go down in history as one of our worst job creating Presidents, amongst other worsts that he owns. These tax breaks if they were to go away would do quite a bit to pay our National Debt.

Corporate Welfare is worse than both Welfare and the Bush Tax Cuts. Corporate Welfare is subsidies given to wealthy corporations. For instance Oil Companies recieved about $15 billion from our government last year. Corporate Welfare cost us $200 billion last year. 2 and 1/2 times that of Domestic Welfare. What is more important, our People or our corporations? Why do corporations that are being government subsidized not hiring?

In order to recieve Food Stamps, a family of 4 making $26, 000 would get $165 a month in Food Stamps. A person working 40 hours a week at $12.50 an hour would recieve that much. In order to get Welfare, you have to make lesd than $400 a month. Then you would get cash assistance, medical, dental and Section 8 housing. Section 8 housing I believe comes in at a higher number. Are these the people the government should stop helping?

Each dollar spent on Food Assistance returns $1.86 to the economy. So again Republicans are mistaken in their attacks. Democrats want to give more to people and cut the corporations off. President Obama wants to help the people and Republicans hate him for it. The people vote for the party that helps them. Remember the Republucans thought the Sequester was a good idea.

The OCA calls on Congress to reject the King Amendment.

               The Organic Consumers Association recently called on Congress to reject the King Amendment and any other amendments or riders to the 2013 Farm Bill that would take away states rights to enact laws requiring the labeling of foods containing GMO’s. The OCA also launched a national petition asking consumers to tell Congress that if they pass a Farm Bill with the King Amendment or other similar riders or amendments, their constituents will vote them out of office.

                The King Amendment,  inserted into the Farm Bill under the guise of protecting interstate commerce, passed out of the House Agriculture Committee on May 15. The Amendment was proposed by Rep. Steven King (R-Iowa) largely in response to a California law stating that by 2015, California would allow only eggs to be sold from hens housed in cages specified by California. Policy analysts emphasise that the amendment,  brutally and ambiguously written, could be used to prohibit or prevent any state GMO labeling or food safety laws.

           Sources in Washington, D.C., have told the OCA that even if the King Amendment doesn’t make it into the Senate version of the Farm Bill, Monsanto is lobbying its Congressional allies for other measures that would accomplish the preemption or nullification of any state GMO labeling law. Monsanto and the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) had admitted privately that they’ve lost the battle to stop GE food labeling at the state level. Now that states are moving aggressively on labeling laws, the GMA and Monsanto lobbying efforts have been stepped up. On May 14, Maine’s House Agricultural Committee passed a GMO labeling law. On May 10, Vermont passed a labeling bill 99-42, despite massive lobbying by Monsanto and threats to sue the state. Although Monsanto won a razor thin victory, 51%-49%, in a costly, hard fought California GMO labeling ballot initiative last November. BioTech and Big Food now realize that Washington State voters will likely pass I522, an upcoming ballot initiative to panel GMO foods on November 5.

                  Earlier this year Monsanto slipped its extremely unpopular “Monsanto Protection Act”, an act that gives BioTech immunity from Federal prosecution for planting illegally approved GE crops, into the 2013 Federal Appropriations Bill. During the June 2012 Farm Bill debate, 73 U.S. Senators voted against the right of states to pass mandatory GE food labelling laws. Embolden by these votes and now the House Agricultural Committee vote on the King Amendment, Monsanto has every reason to believe Congress would support a potential nullification of states rights to label.

             This goes beyond states rights. This is about human rights, we do have the right to know what we are eating. They label the calories, fat content, sodium and others on fast food labels, why would groceries very different. We should know if we are eating GE foods, we reserve the right to choose between that, non GE foods and Organic foods. Republicans and Democrats need to get their hands out if their pockets and allow the people the right to choose their food. President Obama should not sign any bill that outlaws the labelling of GE or any other foods. This is not about a gun, this is about the health of our people.

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The Monsanto Protection Act.

                The Monsanto Protection Act or HR 933 was signed into law about a week ago. It has many food, consumer advocates and organic farmers very upset because they believe HR933, is a give away to corporations under the cover of darkness. Here are some of the reasons people are upset about the bill.

            The Monsanto Protection Act effectively bans federal courts from being able to halt the sale of contreversial genetically modified (alarm GMO) or genetically engineered seeds (GE). No matter what health issues arise in the future the courts are now powerless. What is very upsetting is that there are not enough studies into potential health risks. Even when the studies are completed,  the courts have henna stripped of their power to do anything about it. The provisions langauge was apparently written with Monsanto. Republican Roy Blunt of Missouri, actually worker with Monsanto on a provision that in effect allows them to keep selling seeds, which will then be planted, even if they are found harmful to consumers.

                What is most disturbing is that it strips judges of their constitutional mandate to protect consumer rights and the environment. It is very dangerous because there will be no oversight into the planting or testing of genetically engineered seeds. It effectively strips consumers of any protection we might have. It also enables GMOs to evade any serious studies or regulatory reviews. Didn’t we try something like this with the banking industry. That worked really well.

               Monsanto is no stranger to our political or judicial system, especially when it comes to influencing it. 8 lawmakers own stock in Monsanto; Senator Lay Hagans ( D-NC), Representatives Dave Camp (R-MI), Joe Kennedy III (D-MA), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Michael Mccaul (R-TX), Jim Rennaci (R-OH, Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Fred Upton (R-MI). Monsanto spent nearly $6 million in lobbying in 2012 and contributed about $500,000 to federal candidates in last election.

                  There is plenty of scientific evidence to recommend caution with respect to certain kinds of genetic modification, especially if the genes involved contain antibiotic resistance. Some studies depicting problems with GMOs have been called out by other scientists as flawed. But many doctors warn against GMO foods, saying the more if them we eat the greater potential harm to our health. I will tend to believe a doctor before a scientist who maybe being paid by the industry it is refuting the study on. This is very dangerous fir Americans because GMO foods are flooding the market and we do not know the health costs.

                    I am a strong President Obama supporter, but I think he dropped the ball on this one. Republicans don’t look out for the people and Democrats really messed up on this one. They robbed us of our protection. If something goes wrong with GMOs in the future, what are our options?

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Pesticides in our food.

              Pesticides are toxic by design.They are expressly created to kill living organisms. Many pesticides do pose dangers to humans. These risks have been established by independent research and physicians across the world. Pesticides have been linked to a variety of health problems such as, brain and nervous system toxicity, cancer, hormone disruption, skin, eye and lung irritation.

              The US Department of Agriculture produce tests have found widespread pesticide contamination on popular fruits and vegetables. At least one pesticide was found on 68% of the samples analyzed for shoppers guide. 11% of those samples had 5 or mire pesticide residues. Pesticide levels were particularly high in tomatoes, peaches, apples, peppers, grapes, lettuce, broccoli, strawberries, spinach, dairy, pears, green beans and celery.

             A U.S. study found that pre-school children are in particular danger to the dangerous chemicals and pesticides used on our fruits and veggies. Pesticides and other chemicals used in growing our foods may be putting young children at a greater risk of developing cancer later in life. A study of 364 children, 207 of which were under 5, found safety consumption bebchmarks were exceeded for arsenic, dieldrin, DDE and dioxins. In addition 95% of pre-school children exceeded non-cancer risk levels for acrylamide, a cooking product normally found in potato chips.

                 Organic foods are produced using methods of organic farming, they do not use synthetic pesticides or chemicals. Nor do they use irrigation, industrial solvents or cgemical foid additives. Organic farmers have to obtain special certification to market their food as organic in many states. Although up to now the evudence is insufficent on whether organic food is safer or more healthy than conventional food.

                The last statement I find odd but that us what I found. Tge Department of Agriculture said that regardless of pesticides it is important to eat fruit, veggies and grains. It would seem to me that organic is safer, but for poor people it is out of price range. I think it is important to note that the uptick in cancer may have something to do with pesticide use. That is also putting more stress on our health care system.


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