Monday, November 19, 2018

Last Call For Happy Turkey Day In Bevinstan

Kentucky GOP Gov. Matt Bevin must feel really good taking away food from tens of thousands Kentuckians with the holidays coming up as the state's new Dickensian work requirements kick in and nearly 20% of the state's neediest households have now been thrown off SNAP food benefits.

More than 10,000 Kentuckians have lost food assistance in the state in the last several months because of a work requirement affecting some people who are part of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program commonly referred to as SNAP.

That’s according to an analysis by representatives of the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy and the consumer advocacy group Kentucky Voices for Healthwho have been looking at how the work requirement is affecting participation in SNAP this year in Kentucky.

SNAP is a federal program that helps low-income individuals and families buy food, such as meat, fruits and vegetables. It also can be used to purchase seeds and plants to grow food.

In recent years, the state has been reinstating a three-month time limit on how long adults, ages 18-49, without a disability or dependents could receive benefits without working about 20 hours a week, according to policy analysts Dustin Pugel and Jason Dunn. The bulk of the counties were brought on board earlier this year, from February to May.

The result, according to the co-authors, is 10,097 individuals out of a potential 54,000 losing their benefits between May and September. And only 34 people had re-entered the program as of September, according to the analysis, which relies on data from the state.

The loss of benefits is concerning, Pugel said, because that’s “a lot of folks who are no longer getting help buying groceries.”

Although SNAP only covers a small portion of participants’ food budgets, “it’s very important, not only to the folks who use it but to local economies,” Pugel said in an interview.

Dunn noted the vulnerability of the recipients: “By being eligible for SNAP benefits, these individuals’ income is less than 133 percent of poverty, and since they’re working less than 20 hours per week, they’ll be at the lower end of that scale,” he noted by email. “Loss of these benefits will increase their food insecurity, which numerous studies have shown increases negative health outcomes.”

The state's chilling answer:

The state Cabinet for Health and Family Services takes issue with the term “loss,” noting, “No one loses access to SNAP benefits, although some beneficiaries may choose not to comply, or cannot comply because they are already working but not reporting income.” 

No work, no eat, get a job loser.  Doesn't matter if not being able to get healthy food makes you more likely to be sick and lose that job, but who cares.

Welcome to Bevinstan.

Happy Thanksgiving from Bevinstan, ya'll.

Meat The Press, Con't

The fight between CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta and the Trump regime is far from over after Friday's court ruling.  Mike Allen:

After a federal court ruling on Friday restored the White House press pass of CNN's Jim Acosta, the West Wing moved almost immediately to once again contest his access, sources involved in the negotiations tell me.

What's happening: The White House sent CNN a letter Friday giving a chance for Acosta to make the case for continued access. A White House official said a decision will be made after hearing the case.

CNN is fighting back, and is expected back in court as soon as today.

Acosta was blocked after clashes with President Trump, who accused the reporter of hogging the microphone at a post-midterm press conference. A CNN spokesperson told me: "The White House is continuing to violate the First and Fifth amendments of the Constitution. These actions threaten all journalists and news organizations. Jim Acosta and CNN will continue to report the news about the White House and the President."
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, speaking on Fox News, accused the correspondent of "grandstanding": "[I]f certain reporters like Jim Acosta can't be adults, then CNN needs to send somebody in there who can be."
Why it matters: This is a high-risk confrontation for both sides. It turns out that press access to the White House is grounded very much in tradition rather than in plain-letter law.

So a court fight could result in a precedent that curtails freedom to cover the most powerful official in the world from the literal front row.

These are admittedly big stakes.  If Trump is allowed to banish media from his presence because he doesn't like their coverage of him, and that becomes a legal precedent, then our free press is gone.   Likewise, this turns into a giant legal mess if CNN can claim not having a WH correspondent is a violation of First and Fifth Amendments and other news outlets can sue over the same.

We've already reached the point where 2019's White House Correspondents' Association press dinner headliner will no longer be a comedian, but speaker, author, and historian Ron Chernow, and that's 100% to please Trump.  Our press is already reeling.

Meanwhile CNN is scrambling for another hearing as today the Trump regime once again threatened to refuse to comply with the Friday's court order and says it reserves to right to revoke Acosta press pass next week.

The White House has issued a new letter to CNN's Jim Acosta, saying his press pass could be revoked again at the end of the month. 
In response, CNN is asking the U.S. District Court for another emergency hearing. 
"The White House is continuing to violate the First and 5th Amendments of the Constitution," the network said in a statement. "These actions threaten all journalists and news organizations. Jim Acosta and CNN will continue to report the news about the White House and the President." 
Government lawyers downplayed CNN's request for urgent court action. 
Last Friday CNN won a temporary restraining order, forcing the White House to restore Acosta's press access to the White House for 14 days. Judge Timothy J. Kelly ruled on Fifth Amendment grounds, saying Acosta's right to due process had been violated. He did not rule on CNN's argument that the revocation of Acosta's press pass was a violation of his and the network's First Amendment rights. 
Later that same day, the White House sent Acosta a formal letter outlining a "preliminary decision" to suspend his pass. The letter -- signed by two of the defendants in the suit, press secretary Sarah Sanders and deputy chief of staff for communications Bill Shine --cited Acosta's conduct at President Trump's November 7 press conference, where he asked multiple follow-up questions and didn't give up the microphone right away. 
"You failed to abide" by "basic, widely understood practices," the letter to Acosta claimed.

More on this fight as it comes in.

Bloomberg Off The Rose, Con't

If billionaire former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg is aiming for 2020, he sure is picking an expensive way to enter the race.

Former New York mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced Sunday he is giving a record $1.8 billion to Johns Hopkins University to support student financial aid at his alma mater and make its admissions process “forever need-blind.”

The gift, believed to be the largest private donation in modern times to higher education, is a landmark in a growing national movement to make elite universities more accessible to students from low- to middle-income families.

It will enable the private research university in Baltimore to eliminate loans from financial aid packages for incoming students starting next fall, expand grants for those in financial need and provide relief to many current undergraduates who had previously taken out federal loans to pay their bills.

In years past, Hopkins President Ronald J. Daniels said, the university struggled to achieve its goal of welcoming all talented students regardless of their means or backgrounds.

“Our dedicated financial aid endowment was simply too small,” Daniels said. “Now, as a consequence of Mike Bloomberg’s extraordinary gift, we will be fully and permanently need-blind in our admissions and be able to substantially enrich the level of direct assistance we provide to our undergraduate students and their families.”

Bloomberg, who graduated from Hopkins in 1964, wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times that his gift is intended to support the idea that opportunities should be based on merit and not wealth. “This will make admissions at Hopkins forever need-blind; finances will never again factor into decisions,” he wrote.

With the donation, the 76-year-old businessman and politician underscored his philanthropic commitment at a moment when he is mulling a run for the presidency in 2020 as a Democrat. (He also has been a Republican and an independent in his political career.) Bloomberg had given $6.4 billion to education and other causes before Sunday’s announcement.

Now, his total lifetime giving to Hopkins alone will exceed $3.3 billion

It's hard to be mad at a guy who has given away more than six billion dollars to charity.  It however does not qualify him for President, Zandar said, momentarily forgetting that the current guy in the Oval Office is a corrupt mobbed-up game show host.

Still, it's good that Bloomberg is doing this.  It's bad that he's running for President.  Two separate things.  The previous billions still didn't make him a good presidential candidate then, it doesn't now either.


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