Friday, December 30, 2016

The Poor People Who Voted For Trump And For Republicans May Soon Learn What That Means To Their Families


Going into 2017, the Christian Science Monitor reminded its readers that boosting low wages has become less controversial as conservatives looked elsewhere to inflict their deadly ideology on working families. 19 states are about to see a rise in the minimum wage, causing the pay of more than 4 million workers go upon one fell swoop. Conservatives still make the same discredited, utrterly false argument about the minimum wage they’ve been making since the Black Plague decimated the English working class in 1348, prompting King Edward III to set a maximum wage, making it illegal to pay laborers too much. Real minimum wage proposals gained steam in the early 1800s and the first minimum wage laws were passed in 1894 (New Zealand), 1896 (Australia) and 1909 (England). The first national minimum wage law came to the U.S. in 1938, accompanied by predictions of the end of the world by conservative politicians and the businessmen who finance their shameful careers. They were wrong, of course, but that hasn’t discouraged conservatives to roll out the same arguments and baseless scare tactics every time there was an attempt to increase the minimum wage.
Debates surrounding the pros and cons of minimum wage raises have reverberated through society in “Fight for $15” protests and state capitals around the nation. While those on the left have said wage hikes will pull some of the nation’s most vulnerable low-income workers out of poverty, conservatives have argued that increased costs for businesses will hamper the economy and have harmful fallout for the very workers they purpport to help.

But in 2017, several reliably red states will join liberal havens like Massachusetts and California in increasing wages for their workers after voters approved ballot initiatives. In others, indexing will provide the increases.

Altogether some 4.4 million workers are expected to see their hourly wages go up.

In places like Arizona, where voters chose to send President-elect Donald Trump to the Oval Office, they also voted for wage increases, crossing over partisan lines to take on an issue from a more traditionally liberal perspective.

…In cities around the country that set the trend of increasing wages, fears of price shock or businesses losses have proved largely unfounded, with localities seeing little impact on their economies. Still, more conservative state governments, like that in Arizona, are pushing back, with state’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry filing a lawsuit to challenge the increase, which is slated to raise the minimum wage from $8.05 to $10. On Thursday, the Arizona Supreme Court refused to temporarily block the measure.

Low-wage workers largely have activists to thank for the change, but note there’s still a long way to go. As states and cities move to raise their wages, the contrast between places still abiding by the federal minimum of $7.25 last raised in 2009 becomes more pronounced.
Seattle recently raised the minimum wage-- conservatives were ready to perform the last rights. Instead, standards of living have risen and unemployment rates-- rather than the sky-- have fallen. Take look:

A few days ago, Kali Holloway, demonstrated one of the places conservatives are seeking to harm the working class instead— the food stamps program. Fox News, the far right’s fake news source, is, as usual, the mouthpiece for plutocracy, greed and hatred. “Pathologizing poverty,” she wrote, “has been a long-term, ongoing—and sadly, highly successful—project of the right in this country.” She cites Wisconsin Koch puppet Scott Walker and his recent appeal to Trump to allow his beaten-down state to drug-test food-stamp recipients, as well as another Wisconsinite, Paul Ryan, and his plans to make it harder, nationally, to qualify for aid. As has always been the case with conservatives, “the goal is to punish and stigmatize the poor while eliminating programs that help lift them out of poverty.”

As the el Presidente-elect Señor Trumpanzee made clear in another one of his idiotic tweets yesterday, Fox is the Republican Party’s vision of state TV, something Holloway remarked on as well, reminding her readers it “essentially functions as the media arm of the Republican Party, and on Wednesday it did its part to undermine a program that helps 44 million poor Americans. To that transparent end, an episode of Fox & Friends featured a segment titled, “Food Stamp Fraud at All-Time High: Is It Time to End the Program?” The piece goes on to claim that USDA figures reveal “$70 million of taxpayer money was wasted in 2016 due to food stamp fraud.” Kevin Drum’s response: Fox News Screws Up It’s Latest Lie. Fox’s point was basically a question “Food Stamp Fraud at All-Time High: Is It Time to End the Program?”
Now, the obvious response to this is twofold. First, they're just lying, aren't they? And second, this is like a headline that says, "Traffic Deaths at All-Time High: Should We Ban Cars?"

But at this point the story takes a strange turn. First, I have no idea where Fox's $70 million figure comes from—and I looked pretty hard for it. The Fox graphic attributes it to "2016 USDA," but as near as I can tell the USDA has no numbers for SNAP fraud more recent than 2011.

But that's not all: $70 million is a startlingly low figure. In the most recent fiscal year, SNAP cost $71 billion, which means that fraud accounted for a minuscule 0.098 percent of the program budget. Even if this is an all-time high, the Fox high command can't believe this is anything but a spectacular bureaucratic success.

And it would be, if it were true. But it's not. If you look at inaccurate SNAP payments to states, the error rate since 2005 has decreased from 6 percent of the budget to less than 4 percent. However, this isn't fraud anyway: It's just an error rate, and most of the errors are eventually corrected. SNAP "trafficking"—exchanging SNAP benefits for cash—is fraud, but it's been declining steadily too, from 3.8 percent in 1993 to 1.3 percent in 2011 (the most recent year for which we have records):

So in any normal sense, the Fox story was a lie. SNAP fraud isn't at an all-time high. It's been declining for years. But here's the thing: The fraud rate in 2011 may have been low, but this was in the aftermath of the Great Recession, when total SNAP payments were very high. So although the percentage is low, the dollar value of fraud clocked in at $988 million. Fox could have used this far higher number, which is, in fact, an all-time high. It's only an all-time high because SNAP was helping far more people, but still. In the Fox newsroom, that would hardly matter.

Bottom line: Yes, Fox is lying in any ordinary sense of the word. But they're also vastly understating the amount of SNAP fraud. Even when they're trying to deceive their audience, it turns out, they're also incompetent.
And this is where Paul Ryan comes in. He and the Republicans, as PBS reported recently, have a plan and they are busy laying the groundwork for a fresh effort to “overhaul” the food stamp program during Trump’s presidency, with new work and stricter eligibility requirements for millions of people.

Right-wing freak Mike Conaway (R-TX) is the chairman of the House Agriculture Committee and he’s leading Ryan’s jihad against food stamps, although he noted that the GOP doesn’t want to eliminate the program (which would not be in the interests of the agricultural conglomerates that fund Conway’s shady career). Conaway has taken $2,167,352 in legalistic bribes from AgriBusiness. Democrats don’t even run against him in his central Texas district that includes Midland, Odessa and San Angelo. This cycle his only opponent was a Libertarian. Conaway was reelected with 89.5% of the vote. You think that might influence his priorities? Here’s the list of the 10 most corrupt members of the Agriculture Committee with the amounts of legalistic bribery they have taken in the 2016 cycle.
Mike Conaway (R-TX) $701,773
Jeff Denham (R-CA) $539,848
Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN) $484,950
Jim Costa (Blue Dog-CA)- $467,524
David Rouzer (R-NC)- $417,831
Rodney Davis (R-IL) $381,754
Dan Newhouse- (R-WA) $346,442
Frank Lucas (R-OK)- $276,475
Doug LaMalfa (R-CA)- $256,089
Rick Crawford (R-AR)- $255,300
Ryan would love to abolish the program entirely, but understands that isn’t going to happen in the real world, at least not in one fell swoop.
Food stamp policy is included in a wide-ranging farm bill every five years; the next one is due in 2018. It also could be part of a larger effort headed by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) to tackle a welfare or entitlement overhaul, if that should happen in the next Congress.

Still, food stamp changes always have been a hard sell in Congress.

Democrats almost unilaterally oppose any changes. Some Republicans from poorer districts are also wary. The 1996 welfare law added some new work requirements, but Congress declined to convert federal food stamp dollars into block grants for the states, a move that would cut spending for the program.

In 2013, House Republican leaders tried to cut the program by 5 percent annually by passing broad work requirements as part of the last farm bill. The House bill also included drug testing for recipients.

The then-Democratic Senate balked, though, and the final bill included a much smaller cut and no allowances for drug testing. Conaway said he’s open to any of those policies, but suggested that block granting the program — a past priority for Ryan — or drug testing recipients are not his priorities.

“We don’t want to be helping folks on drugs, but then again, folks on drugs have children,” Conaway said.
One thing can be sure, though— for as long as the Republicans control the House: more pain and suffering is headed towards the poor. In the end, isn’t that the heart, the soul and the essence of modern conservatism?

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At 1:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Which states, besides AZ, MA & CA, are among the 19 states to raise the minimum wage? It would be interesting to look at them on an electoral college map.

Perhaps HRC would have won if she could have argued as passionately for a national $15 minimum wage*** as she rattled swords against Russia. See clips of various speeches here:

In the first clip she promises, in Cincinnati, "serious political, economic and MILITARY responses" in retaliation against any Russian (or Chinese) cyber attack. (My emphasis.)

It was in that part of the US she critically failed to gain electoral votes. She apparently couldn't realize that she needed, instead, to (at least) promise, as fiercely, to defend midwest voters against further economic attacks against them.

(On a side note: In that Cincinnati speech, the lead in to the retaliation threats was HRC's mention of alleged hacks of the DNC. How does a DEM candidate, who desperately needs the votes of independents, and was courting moderate Republicans too, intend to get them by whining about hacks, actual or fantasy, against the Democratic Party National Committee?)
*** Of course, she could only grudgingly & wonkishly agree to $12.

John Puma

At 4:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The NY minimum wage will be raised but will be less than $10. Less than some other backward states. How did this happen?

At 5:32 AM, Blogger Retired Patriot said...

Abolish food stamp and nutrition support for the poorest in America? The plutocrats just might be that stupid. By itself, keeping people from starving may be the only thing holding back violent revolutionary forces inside the USA. Hungry people are desperate people. Hungry people can and will do whatever they need to eat and to make sure that their kids eat. Wherever there is a revolution from below, food insecurity lies at its root.

So, are the plutocrats that DUMB? They very well could be.


At 7:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

they (drumpf voters: white morons) won't care as long as the hated blacks and meskins get their food stamps, welfare, Medicaid and other assistance cut.

As I keep pointing out, the white American racists' pathology is that they'll gladly take a pounding as long as those they hate get at least an equal pounding.

At 8:52 PM, Blogger Bigrack21 said...

A CEO making 15O million per year doesn't have to raise prices, lay off staff or close his company if minimum wage goes up-. He simply needs to learn to live on 149 million per year


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