Thursday, December 22, 2005

Merry Christmas, Poor Folks!

While many church people rally to defend an unapologetic celebration of Christmas, public officials are busy crafting public policy that will be anything but a gift for low-income Americans, millions of whom live in our inner cities.

Consider New Orleans and Uncle Sam's. . .er, Santa's current list of "gifts" for the poor in that devastated city. The Small Business Administration has processed only 1/3 of the 276,000 loan applications it has received from businesses and homeowners. The SBA has rejected 82% of those it has reviewed! Forty-seven per cent of the approvals have gone to well-t0-do neighborhoods in the city, while only 7% have gone to the poorer communities.

This dismal performance record doesn't really square with what the President said on September 15, 2005 when he spoke at historic Jackson Square.

"As all of us saw on television, there is also some deep, persistent poverty in this region as well," Mr. Bush said. "We have a duty to confront this poverty with bold action. so let us restore all that we have cherished from yesterday, and let us rise above the legacy of inequality."

Santa's on-the-ground policy doesn't measure up to the political rhetoric that extended false hope to New Orleans residents, especially among the poor.

Or, consider the battle that rages on in the Congress as we speed toward the Christmas or Holiday break. Senator Frist called in every Senator and every vote this weekend, including Vice President Cheney who interrupted a trip to Pakistan to scurry back to the Capitol in case his tie-breaking vote were required on the Senate side. As it turned out, he cast one deciding vote on Wednesday.

The result appears clear. Billions of dollars in funding will be stripped away from programs benefiting low-income Americans, including nutrition, health care, child welfare and education initiatives. The very efforts our nation employs to extend new opportunity to working families will now be cut back even further.

Don't despair! At the same time our Congress squeezes the poor, it will provide even more billions in additional tax cuts to the rich!

Merry Christmas! God bless us every one!

It happened again on Monday of this week. And, I must say people didn't like it.

Our resource center assisted almost 400 families with food and other pressing matters. I have never seen our building more crowded.

Everyone was gracious. Everyone seemed grateful. But, not everyone was happy.

People who must depend upon charity to get by in life really don't like it. Put yourself in their shoes. You'll begin to understand.

We need more in this nation. We should be doing better by those at the bottom. What we have today is not only inadequate and short-sighted, it is simply not right.

I wish the folks who are so incensed about the Christmas-Holiday argument would turn their attention to the values of the person behind the celebration they champion. Maybe then things would change.

Merry Christmas.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

So, did it officially pass? Is there nothing else we can do!?!?!

(other than vote better next time... which I, a recovering Republican, intend to do)

Larry James said...

Anonymous, due to changes made in the Senate, the process will have to go back to the U. S. House. So, you can contact your Representative TODAY to express your opposition to the cuts to programs benefiting the poor. That is your only option at this point.

Dallasfan said...

Larry,

I just wanted to make a comment or two about your latest post.

1. Where did your get your figures at for the SBA part?
2. Why would the SBA give a loan to start up a business in an area of the town that does not have any idea how, when or where it is going to be rebuilt. My understanding is that many of these areas had people who did not have flood insurance. I think there are many more questions about the city than answers right now and the SBA would be prudent to be slow and thorough in handing out money that is backed by the government.


3. “The Deficit Reduction Act, in addition to being fiscally responsible, also makes some good
government reforms that will improve services for the Americans who need them. Grant aid to
low-income college students will be increased by 99 percent, as well as provides more assistance
to low- and middle-income borrowers in the student loan program. The bill expands Medicaid
benefits to 1 million more disabled children, offers more home and community-based health
programs for the elderly and disabled low-income, and provides $2 billion in additional Medicaid
benefits to nearly 2 million hurricane victims in the Gulf Coast region.”
Judd Gregg-Chairman of the Committee on the Budget

Larry this is class war at its finest. If you change anything about Medicare and Medicaid by definition it impact the poor, sick, young and old. They are the ones that use it. According to Sen. Gregg’s website this “Deficit Reduction Act” was a result of a bipartisan committee of governors. The senate took their suggestions and placed them in a bill. This bill is a result of their bipartisan effort. I would also like to make a point about the “billions of dollars in funding will be stripped away from programs benefiting low-income Americans, including nutrition, health care, child welfare and education initiatives.” This is true but misleading. In 2006 there will be $192Bil spent on Medicaid in 2101 there will be $260Bil spent on Medicare. Only in the “class warfare” talk surrounding discussion in Washington is this considered a cut. The rate of spending growth is cut from 41% to 40%, which equates to a cut of $5Bil over the next 4 yrs. Many of us, including me, cannot fathom figures of this size. Over the next 4 yrs we will spend $1.2Tril on Medicaid. Do you realize that if you started counting, and counted one number every second it would take you 31,546 yrs to count to 1,000,000,000. We are spending money. It is leaving our pockets, in the form of taxes, and going to the government. The government is allotting it. The problem is that it is wasted and utilized in a find the ball game under all the coconuts in Washington. Anyway, that is my thought.

Anonymous said...

Dallasfan, let's just say you are right and I don't think you are. So, justify a tax cut to the top.

It may take class war to redirect the nation.

Dallasfan said...

Anonymous,

I would direct you to a previous reply where I point out according to the IRS website, the top is the only people that pay income tax, so they would be the only people that would benefit from an income tax cut. Here is the link: http://larryjamesurbandaily.blogspot.com/2005/12/opportunity-to-express-your-values.html. Check it out. I would like to hear your thoughts after you look at the IRS numbers.

Larry James said...

Dallasfan, I read mine in the NYTimes. No report I have seen sums up the education reform stuff like you have it here. I really don't believe this data. NPR had it completely differently this a.m. The fact is this Congress is cutting help to the weakest to pay for a war and a tax cut. Not rocket science to see that.

Dallasfan said...

Larry,

Check our this link. I know it is from the Chairman of the committee, but I have found nothing today researching this topic that actually contradicts these figures. http://budget.senate.gov/republican/pressarchive/2005-12-20FFR2.pdf.

Jeremy Gregg said...

DallasFan,

That site claims: "Fact: The Deficit Reduction Act will result in increased health benefits for low-income individual and families," but then it goes on to say that benefits will only be increased for Hurricane Katrina victims, severely disabled children and their parents, elderly and disabled low-income people.

While those populations need additional support, this "Fact Sheet" does not report that these are increases to only small segments of the overall low-income population. These increases will be funded by reduced benefits to the rest (as well as increased tax breaks to the wealthy).

If you're looking for a more accurate analysis, here is something interesting from www.cppp.org:

"Congress will soon decide whether to eliminate food stamp benefits for about 255,000 low-income Americans, including about 76,000 Texans. The cuts are contained in the U.S. House of Representative's budget reconciliation bill passed on November 18. This bill would cut more than $700 million in food stamp benefits over the next six years, making Texas the hardest hit among the states, with Texans shouldering approximately 30% of the food stamp cuts. Most of the families who would lose benefits are low-wage workers with children."

The reality is that even the 41% growth would still be inadequate. A vast number of poor people still cannot access these servcies. As detailed here, "The number of American households experiencing hunger has jumped 43% over the past 5 years (1999-2004)."

Anonymous said...

As hard as it is to admit, as a Republican, it is clear to me that much of my leadership simply distorts the facts and believes that such distortions become truth by simply repeating them again and again. This is clearly the case with your data Dallasfan, as it is with Mr. Cheney's continued insistance that Iraq had clear ties to Al Queda. It is a sad time for the GOP.

William Dennison
Mobile, AL

Dallasfan said...

Jeremy,

I must admit the site you referred to offers a much more sobering assessment. I think that is what is so polarizing about talking about things like this. . who do you believe. The budget is 7000+ pages long and, if you can't get the Cogress to read an 15 page assessment of Iraq before voting for going to war, how do think they are going to read 7000+ pages. Honestly, I do not know what to think. I beleive that there is too much money that is wasted in Washington and the more that we are able to keep in our own pockets, or at least as close to us as possible, i.e. local or state, the better. Larry has said many times that there needs to be a kind of "call to action" from our faith commmunities, and I agree.

Ed Harrell said...

From what I have read, the "DRA" cut $40 billion from a $2.6 trillion budget, making it a $2.56 trillion budget; a drop in the bucket. In my opinion, there are plenty of resources at hand, I think the real fight should be in the ineffectiveness of the delivery system. As far as the tax cut goes, it has been shown from both Dem. and Rep. administrations that when tax rates go down, revenue to the government goes up. I think that cutting waste and channeling money to programs that work (and invent them if need be) would be more effective than just throwing more money into broken systems. Your experiences may give you a different opinion than mine and I certainly respect that. I believe, however, that the last paragraph of your post is right on the money.

God Bless and Merry Christmas,

Ed