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Politics: Daily Briefing: Suspension of work requirement has exploded food stamp dependence

Published by: Clark Barrow on Thursday September 20th, 2012

Clark Barrow

By CLARK BARROW - New study shows explosion of food stamp recipients directly tied to suspension of work requirements.

DAILY BRIEFING - SUMMARY

  • · UNEMPLOYMENT - Applications for U.S. jobless benefits fell by 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 382,000 in the week ended Sept. 15, the U.S. Labor Department said Thursday.

 

  • · REGULATIONS - The American Action Forum recently released a new analysis of the burden of new regulations under President Obama. The report found that the cost of added regulations under President Obama is now estimated to be $488 billion.

 

  • · FAST & FURIOUS - An internal U.S. Justice Department investigation released Wednesday into the Operation Fast and Furious faulted a range of federal agencies for the failed anti-gunrunning program -- and has resulted in the resignation of one Justice Department official.

 

  • · ATTACK - The September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was in fact "a terrorist attack" and the U.S. government has indications that members of al Qaeda were directly involved, a top Obama administration official said Wednesday morning.

 

  • · THREAT - Protests again erupted across the Muslim world on Wednesday, with new protests over a French magazine depicting an obscene cartoon of Prophet Mohammed.

 

  • · FOOD STAMPS - A new report from the U.S. Congressional Research Service suggests that the administration’s suspension of a separate welfare work requirement has already helped explode the number of able-bodied Americans on food stamps.

 

  • · OBAMACARE - Six million Americans, or roughly 2% of the current population, will end up paying a penalty for failing to have health insurance when the full effect of the 2010 health-care overhaul law is felt in 2016, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

 

 

 

WHAT WE KNOW

ECONOMIC NEWS

  • · UNEMPLOYMENT - Applications for U.S. jobless benefits fell by 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 382,000 in the week ended Sept. 15, the U.S. Labor Department said Thursday.

o The average of new claims over the past month, meanwhile, rose by 2,000 to 377,750, the highest level since late June. The four-week average reduces seasonal volatility in the weekly data and is seen as a more accurate barometer of labor-market trends.

o About 5.17 million people received some kind of state or federal benefit in the week ended Sept. 1, down 217,823 from the prior week. Total claims are reported with a two-week lag.

 

  • · REGULATIONS - The American Action Forum recently released a new analysis of the burden of new regulations under President Obama. The report found that the cost of added regulations under President Obama is now estimated to be $488 billion.

o Based on data from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) and regulations published in the Federal Register, the Administration has published more than $488 billion in regulatory costs since January 20, 2009 – $70 billion in 2012 alone.

o The most costly government agencies in 2012 alone are Health and Human Services (which has an estimated regulation burden of $16.7 billion), the Environmental Protection Agency ($12.1 billion), the Department of Energy ($10.6 billion), the Department of Justice ($6.9 billion), and the Securities and Exchange Commission ($6.2 billion).

 

COMMODITIES

  • · The U.S. national average for a gallon of regular gasoline is $3.84.

o When President Obama was inaugurated, in January 2009, the U.S. national average for a gallon of regular gasoline was $1.85. Average gasoline prices are currently 107 percent higher than they were when Mr. Obama became president.

  • · Crude oil for October delivery lost $3.31, or 3.5%, to $91.98 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
  • · Gold for December delivery gained 50 cents, or less than 0.1%, to settle at $1,771.70 an ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

 

NEWS TO WATCH

  • · ELECTION - As of today, there are 47 days until the November 2012 presidential election.

 

  • · CONGRESS - Tax-writing U.S. Senators are privately discussing how to deal with the looming "fiscal cliff" with a string of key government officials on Thursday.

o Members of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee have already met with Doug Elmendorf, the head of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), and have afternoon meetings scheduled with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Tom Barthold, the chief of staff for the Joint Committee on Taxation.

o Finance members said after the meeting with Elmendorf that they did not present a specific fiscal plan for the CBO head to score, and Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) said that the meeting centered on the economic consequences of various approaches to dealing with the cliff.

 

  • · CONGRESS - Eager to shoot down President Obama’s legislative agenda just weeks before the election, U.S. Senate Republicans on Wednesday blocked a measure that would have provided $1 billion over five years to help veterans find work in their communities.

o The measure, which would have potentially created jobs for up to 20,000 veterans, was blocked on a procedural point by Republicans, who argued that the bill was unpaid for.

o The bill was opposed, by, among others, U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma, who said he believed the bill duplicated existing job programs for veterans that are not well run.

 

  • · FAST & FURIOUS - An internal U.S. Justice Department investigation released Wednesday into the Operation Fast and Furious faulted a range of federal agencies for the failed anti-gunrunning program -- and has resulted in the resignation of one Justice Department official.

o Jason Weinstein, the deputy assistant attorney general for the Criminal Division, resigned in the wake of the report. The report essentially concludes that he is the most senior department official who was in a position to stop Fast and Furious.

o The report says U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder was not made aware of potential flaws in the program until February of last year. But the report cites 14 other department employees -- including Criminal Division head Lanny Breuer -- for potential wrongdoing, recommending the department consider disciplinary action against them.

o The reports also says that no one responsible for the case at ATF Phoenix or the U.S. Attorney's Office raised a serious question or concern about the government not taking earlier measures to stop Fast and Furious.

 

  • · WHITE HOUSE - White House Press Secretary Jay Carney on Wednesday criticized the “judgment” of a French satirical magazine for publishing cartoons that are critical of the Islamist political movement, amid the routine threat of attacks by Islamists during President Obama’s re-election campaign.

o The French government reacted to the expected threats by temporarily shutting down embassies and schools in 20 countries with significant Muslim populations.

o The White House’s criticism of a French magazine’s editorial choices comes as a wave of Islamist attacks threatened to upset the president’s election campaign, during which has has claimed that his policies have reduced conflict with Islamic countries.

 

PRESIDENT’S SCHEDULE

  • · In the morning, President Obama will depart Washington, D.C. and travel to Miami, Florida.
  • · In the afternoon, the president will participate in a Univision and Facebook "Meet the Candidate" event at the University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida.
  • · In the evening, the president will depart Miami, Florida and travel to Tampa, Florida.
  • · Later in the evening, the president will hold a campaign event at a private residence in Tampa, Florida.
  • · Later, the president will return to Washington, D.C.

 

 

 

HAPPENING IN THE U.S. CONGRESS

U.S. SENATE

  • · The U.S. Senate is in session today.

 

U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

  • · The U.S. House is in session today.

 

 

 

TOPICS OF INTEREST

NATIONAL SECURITY

  • · ATTACK - The September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was in fact "a terrorist attack" and the U.S. government has indications that members of al Qaeda were directly involved, a top Obama administration official said Wednesday morning.

o At U.S. Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing, Matt Olsen, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said Wednesday the U.S. government just isn't sure yet whether the terrorist attack was pre-planned or whether it was an example of terrorists taking advantage of protests against an anti-Islam film.

o As for who was responsible, Olsen said it appears there were attackers from a number of different militant groups that operate in and around Benghazi, and said there are already signs of al Qaeda involvement.

o U.S. intelligence reports indicate that a former Guantanamo Bay detainee was involved in the Benghazi attack. Sufyan Ben Qumu is thought to have been involved and even may have led the attack, Fox News' intelligence sources said. Qumu, a Libyan, was released from the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 2007 and transferred into Libyan custody on the condition he be kept in jail. He was released by the Qaddafi regime as part of its reconciliation effort with Islamists in 2008.

 

  • · THREAT - Protests again erupted across the Muslim world on Wednesday, with new protests over a French magazine depicting an obscene cartoon of Prophet Mohammed. The following details the events around the world:

o INDONESIA - The United States temporarily closed its consulate in the country's third largest city of Medan because of demonstrations. It was the third consecutive day of protests in Medan, the capital of North Sumatra province.

o PAKISTAN - Several hundred lawyers protested the anti-Islam video in the capital Islamabad, forcing their way into an area that houses the U.S. Embassy and other foreign missions. The protesters shouted anti-American slogans and burned an American flag after they pushed through a gate, gaining access to the diplomatic enclave before police stopped them.

o SRI LANKA - About 300 Muslims protested against the film in the capital Colombo, calling for its U.S.-based creators to be hanged.

o AFGHANISTAN - Hundreds of university students in the eastern city of Jalalabad staged a protest and burned an effigy of President Obama before dispersing peacefully.

 

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT

  • · OBAMACARE - Six million Americans, or roughly 2% of the current population, will end up paying a penalty for failing to have health insurance when the full effect of the 2010 health-care overhaul law is felt in 2016, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

o The CBO on Wednesday said the penalty of $695 or 2.5% of household income under the law formally known as the Affordable Care Act increases the number of those facing the penalty than originally was projected in April 2010, shortly after the law’s passage. The law contains an individual mandate requiring all Americans to have insurance or pay a penalty

o Now, 2 million more people will be penalized and pay an additional $3 billion in fines than originally projected, according to the report, conducted by the CBO along with the Joint Committee on Taxation.

o Illegal immigrants and those exempted from the penalty due to low incomes will comprise 18 million to 19 million of that total group of uninsured. About half the remaining 11 million to 12 million are expected to receive exemptions due to hardship or religious beliefs, the CBO says.

o Currently, according to the U.S. Congressional Budget Office (CBO), there are 53 million uninsured persons in the United States, including uninsured illegal aliens. The CBO estimates that in 2022--8 years after the Affordable Care Act has been fully implemented--30 million people will remain uninsured.

 

  • · FOOD STAMPS - A new report from the U.S. Congressional Research Service suggests that the administration’s suspension of a separate welfare work requirement has already helped explode the number of able-bodied Americans on food stamps.

o In addition to the broader work requirement that has become a contentious issue in the presidential race, the 1996 welfare reform law included a separate rule encouraging able-bodied adults without dependents to work by limiting the amount of time they could receive food stamps. President Obama suspended that rule when he signed his economic stimulus legislation into law, and the number of these adults on food stamps doubled, from 1.9 million in 2008 to 3.9 million in 2010, according to the CRS report.

o Under the rule adopted in 1996, food stamps for able-bodied adults without dependents were limited to three months in a 36-month period unless the participant in the program “works at least 20 hours a week; participates in an employment and training program for at least 20 hours per week; or participates in a (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) ‘workfare’ program for at least 20 hours per week.”

 

EDUCATION

  • · CHICAGO - Chicago Public Schools teachers returned to their classrooms Wednesday with pay raises on the horizon after a seven-day strike.

o Here are highlights of the new contract, according to a statements by the union, the school district and Mayor Rahm Emanuel:

§ Teachers get a 3 percent raise this year, 2 percent in the second and third years, and could extend the contract to a fourth year by mutual agreement with a 3 percent raise. The new contract also preserves some automatic pay raises, or "step" increases, based on experience. Debt rating agencies have said these raises are greater than what the Chicago Public Schools had budgeted for and almost certainly will bust the budget.

§ On the key issue of teacher performance evaluations, Emanuel got a new system based in part on "student growth" including standardized test scores. But he had to back off on how much student test results will be weighted. The new contract will require that 70 percent of the evaluation be based on "teacher practice" and 30 percent on student performance including test scores. The new appraisals will not be used against tenured teachers in the first year of the system.

§ Emanuel compromised on a union demand for job security by promising that half of all teachers hired by the district must be union members previously laid off by the closing of schools. But Emanuel said he also won new flexibility for school principals to hire whoever they want for open teaching positions. The union said it won an "anti-bullying clause that prohibits abusive and demeaning conduct by principals."

§ The union said it won a pledge from the district that it hire a racially diverse teaching force after a record number of African-American educators were laid off because of the school closings in recent years.

 

 

 

FOREIGN POLICY

MIDDLE EAST

  • · SYRIA - Syria, itself suspected of illicit nuclear activity, accused the West at a major U.N. meeting on Wednesday of double standards in implicitly condoning an Israeli atomic arsenal and warned of a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.

o Israel hit back at the annual assembly of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) by saying Syria and its ally Iran were "known for their clandestine pursuit of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction."

o The United States said last week Syria was using the "brutal repression" of its people waging an uprising as an excuse not to address international concerns about its past nuclear work.

 

  • · IRAN - Iran has been using civilian aircraft to fly military personnel and large quantities of weapons across Iraqi airspace to Syria to aid President Bashar al-Assad in his attempt to crush an 18-month uprising against his government, according to a Western intelligence report seen by Reuters.

o Earlier this month, U.S. officials said they were questioning Iraq about Iranian flights in Iraqi airspace suspected of ferrying arms to Assad, a staunch Iranian ally. On Wednesday, U.S. Senator John Kerry threatened to review U.S. aid to Baghdad if it does not halt such overflights.

o Iraq says it does not allow the passage of any weapons through its airspace. But the intelligence report obtained by Reuters says Iranian weapons have been flowing into Syria via Iraq in large quantities. Such transfers, the report says, are organized by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

 

EUROPE

  • · EURO ZONE - The European Central Bank's aggressive new bond-buying plan has so far failed to inspire any major improvement in business at ailing euro zone companies, unexpectedly gloomy surveys showed on Thursday.

o The downturn in activity in the euro zone's service sector steepened this month at the fastest pace since July 2009, Markit's purchasing managers indexes (PMIs) showed, with French companies performing particularly poorly.

o A good indicator of economic performance, the euro zone services PMI fell to 46.0 in September from 47.2 in August, below even the most pessimistic forecast of 46.5 in a Reuters poll of nearly 40 economists. A number below 50 denotes contracting activity.