Friday, May 18, 2018

Last Call For Animal Farm

Paul Ryan's plan to wreck SNAP and gut food assistance for women and children in the yearly farm bill ran into an insurmountable force on Friday, that force being Ryan's own party, who went into full revolt basically because the hardliners didn't get their vote on immigration mass deportation .

House conservatives tanked a GOP farm bill on Friday over an intra-party feud over immigration, delivering a stunning blow to Republican leaders as they try to find a path forward on immigration. 
In a 198-213 vote, GOP conservatives essentially joined Democrats in rejecting the measure, which would have introduced tougher work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program [SNAP] that were a priority for Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). 
The whip count remained in question in the hours leading up to the dramatic vote, despite GOP leaders expressing confidence just minutes before hand that they would have enough support to pass the bill.

Ryan and other GOP leaders frantically tried to flip members of the House Freedom Caucus from no to yes during the amendment vote series leading up to final passage.
At one point, Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), a chief deputy whip, was seen working Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.) while Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was locked in an intense conversation with Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.)

Ryan, McCarthy and Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) huddled with House Freedom Caucus leader Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Scott Perry (R-Pa.) earlier as lawmakers voted on amendments to the bill. 
Leadership made an offer to the Freedom Caucus that they could pick any date they wanted in June for a floor vote on a hardline immigration bill crafted by Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), according to a source familiar with the discussion.
In the end it, it wasn’t enough. Meadows said his members needed more of a commitment from leadership on the Goodlatte bill.

House Republicans desperately want to save their jobs by putting an immigration bill in front of the Senate and forcing Senate Republicans to save them, so the Freedom Caucus is now apparently ready to scuttle the farm bill in order to get their way. 

I've talked about how horrible the Goodlatte immigration bill is before, and it's essentially the end of legal immigration as well as setting the stage for mass deportations of undocumented immigrants.  The House passing it would be pretty lethal to Senate Republicans, and they know it.

But not passing a farm bill would be worse (and the Freedom Caucus can blame Democrats, they figure.)  We'll see who wins, but no matter what, Americans lose.

We can fix that in November.

The War On Women, Con't

The Trump regime is going directly after women this week with a new directive that will essentially bring the "Gag Rule" to the US and prevent federal funding to Planned Parenthood

Clinics that provide abortions or refer patients to places that do would lose federal funding under a new Trump administration rule that takes direct aim at Planned Parenthood, according to three administration officials.

The rule, which is to be announced Friday, is a top priority of social conservatives and is the latest move by President Trump to impose curbs on abortion rights, in this case by withholding money from any facility or program that promotes abortion or refers patients to a caregiver that will provide one.

The policy would be a return to one instituted in 1988 by President Ronald Reagan that required abortion services to have a “physical separation” and “separate personnel” from other family planning activities. That policy is often described as a domestic gag rule because it barred caregivers at facilities that received family planning funds from providing any information to patients about an abortion or where to receive one.

Federal family planning laws already ban direct funding of organizations that use abortion as a family planning method. But conservative activists and Republican lawmakers have been pressing Alex M. Azar II, the secretary of health and human services, to tighten the rules further so that abortions could not occur — or be performed by the same staff — at locations that receive Title X federal family planning money.

Dawn Laguens, the executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, called the new proposal “outrageous” and “dangerous.”

The policy, she said in a statement late Thursday, is “designed to make it impossible for millions of patients to get birth control or preventive care from reproductive health care providers like Planned Parenthood. This is designed to force doctors and nurses to lie to their patients. It would have devastating consequences across this country.”

Several states, including Texas, are already doing this to Planned Parenthood and the results have been nothing short of disastrous

Cuts to family planning funding in Texas led to an increase in teen births and abortions in the state, according to a forthcoming research paper in the Journal of Health Economics.

In 2011, The Texas State Legislature restructured funding for family planning, ultimately reducing the state’s family planning budget by 67 percent, from $111 million over two year to just $37.9 million for the next two years.

The restructuring also formed a three-tiered system that allocates more funding to clinics with comprehensive health services over those that provide only family planning services. Public agencies that provide family planning services, including public health departments and federally qualified health centers, were classified as Tier 1, while non-public providers that offered both preventive and primary care in addition to family planning were Tier 2.

Specialty clinics, including Planned Parenthood, were classified as Tier 3 and faced the brunt of funding cuts.

When the funding cuts first took effect on September 1, 2011, 14 family planning clinics lost funds immediately, according to another research paper on the effects of the cuts. By the end of 2012, a quarter of family planning clinics in Texas had shut down, while 18 percent had reduced service hours, and 50 percent had fired staff.

The new study, authored by Analisa Packham, an assistant professor of economics at Miami University, found that the 67 percent decrease in funding has resulted in an increase in the teen birth rate by 3.4 percent, or nearly 2,200 more teens giving birth.

Additionally, the effects of those cuts were primarily felt in counties with relatively high poverty levels, and the increased birth rate was concentrated between two and three years following the initial cuts.

Although the primary stated objective of the funding cuts was to decrease abortion incidence, I find little evidence that reducing family planning funding achieved this goal,” Packham wrote in her paper.

She actually found the opposite effect

Now these cuts are essentially coming to all of America and the results will be a massive reversal in the lowering of teen pregnancy rates, and given that birth rates in the US have already reached a 40-year low and infant fatalities among black and Latina women are already insanely high, this will only make things exponentially worse if fully implemented.  

Democrats, you just got handed the issue to win big this year.

Squeezed In The Middle (Class)

New data from the United Way finds almost half of American households don't earn enough to afford the basics of middle class living as the vast majority of jobs in the US pay less than $40k a year. Americans are employed, they just don't earn enough wages.

Nearly 51 million households don't earn enough to afford a monthly budget that includes housing, food, child care, health care, transportation and a cell phone, according to a studyreleased Thursday by the United Way ALICE Project. That's 43% of households in the United States.

The figure includes the 16.1 million households living in poverty, as well as the 34.7 million families that the United Way has dubbed ALICE -- Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. This group makes less than what's needed "to survive in the modern economy."

"Despite seemingly positive economic signs, the ALICE data shows that financial hardship is still a pervasive problem," said Stephanie Hoopes, the project's director.

California, New Mexico and Hawaii have the largest share of struggling families, at 49% each. North Dakota has the lowest at 32%.

Many of these folks are the nation's child care workers, home health aides, office assistants and store clerks, who work low-paying jobs and have little savings, the study noted. Some 66% of jobs in the US pay less than $20 an hour.

The study also drilled down to the county level.

For instance, in Seattle's King County, the annual household survival budget for a family of four (including one infant and one preschooler) in 2016 was nearly $85,000. This would require an hourly wage of $42.46. But in Washington State, only 14% of jobs pay more than $40 an hour.

That's why talk of a minimum wage is useless because nobody in America can afford to live on $7.25 an hour.  Living wages and guaranteed basic income are much more of a solution, and at least some Democrats are embracing those ideas, but not enough.  The middle class in the US is basically dying, and if you're black or Latino, the middle class is already dead.

"Economic anxiety" may be the catch-all to replace racism in the Trump Era, but it doesn't mean that people aren't suffering.


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