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Does The Government Shutdown Mean “The End of the World”? The Radical Religious Right Thinks So

The End of the World Is Nigh

Ok, so maybe the government shutdown IS “the end of the world.”  At least as far as some Tea Party leaders are concerned.

Yes, seriously.  No, this is not a joke.

This eye-opening analysis comes from Rev. Morgan Guyton, a pastor in Louisiana:

I wanted to do some research into the theological roots of Senator Ted Cruz, the standard-bearer of the Tea Party Republicans behind the shutdown… It turns out that Ted’s father, Rafael Cruz, is a pastor with Texas charismatic ministry Purifying Fire International who has been campaigning against Obamacare the last several months. He has a distinct theological vision for what America is supposed to look like: Christian dominionism.

Here’s Christian Zionist charismatic pastor Larry Huch, a year ago, when he was introducing Sen. Cruz’s father as a guest preacher at Huch’s “New Beginnings” megachurch:

But here’s the exciting thing… The rabbinical teaching is… that in a few weeks begins that year 2012 and that this will begin what we call the end-time transfer of wealth.  …It’s said this way: that God is looking at the church and everyone in it and deciding in the next three and a half years who will be his bankers. And the ones that say here I am Lord, you can trust me, we will become so blessed that we will usher in the coming of the messiah.

Here’s how the Rev. Guyton distills the current state of Cruz’s theology:

The reason governmental regulation has to disappear from the marketplace is to make it completely available to the plunder of Christian ‘kings’ who will accomplish the ‘end time transfer of wealth.’ Then ‘God’s bankers’ will usher in the ‘coming of the messiah.’ The government is being shut down so that God’s bankers can bring Jesus back.


OK, take a minute to breathe here.  Remember that most Christians (including, particularly, Rev. Guyton) don’t believe that bankers can bring Jesus back.  (Most Christians take a very different message from the Bible.  Remember my post “The Republicans Make an Offer on Sequestration”?)

But it’s a very enlightening perspective on the current federal crisis.


Prepared for even more enlightenment?  Read Rev. Guyton’s post on “The God of No Compromise and the Government Shutdown.”

[For evangelicals], the word ‘compromise’ has always been a bad word. It means to allow non-Christian values and influences to corrupt your devotion to Biblical truth.  … a stormtrooper evangelical Republican must categorically reject any idea that is generated by a Democrat because accepting it would amount to a compromise of worldview.

This need to “categorically reject” Democratic ideas helps explain why the right-wing Heritage Foundation so adamantly opposes Obamacare.  If you’re a policy geek, you might remember that the Heritage Foundation actually proposed the individual mandate, back in 1989.  But now that’s a Democratic policy… Sen. Cruz believes it’s a reason to shut down the government.

It also helps explain why – no matter how hard President Obama may try to “compromise” – his attempts to “meet in the middle” are always going to be rejected.  Read “Translating from TeaPartyese: What ‘negotiate’ really means.”

GOP in Congress: Keeping — or BREAKING? — Promises

Crossed fingers ICan someone please explain to me… how can the GOP be simultaneously

  • planning to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits
  • holding sacrosanct the government’s payments to bondholders?

What, exactly, is the big difference?  For Social Security and Medicare, people have paid money into the system, with the expectation that they would receive an agreed-upon return (benefits) at a later date.  Just the same way that bondholders have loaned money, with the expectation that they would receive an agreed-upon return (principal plus interest) at a later date.

Would bondholders be happy if House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan suggested trimming bond repayments between 15% and 45%?  So why should people who have paid into Social Security accept those kinds of cuts?

Let’s see… if Ryan reduced federal bond payments by 15%, wouldn’t that free up about $54 billion a year?  Wait… wouldn’t that more than cover the $40 billion of cuts to the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program that Republicans want to make?

Pediatricians at the Boston Medical Center have studied the interaction between hunger and health, and yesterday announced that SNAP was “one of America’s most cost-effective and successful public health programs in the country” and by improving children’s health, SNAP actually “saves society money.”  Except that Republicans want to cut children’s health insurance, too.  At this point, you halfway expect House leadership to start quoting Jonathan Swift.  But I digress.

Or if Ryan reduced bond payments by 45%, wouldn’t that free up about $162 billion a year?  Which would more than cover the revenue cost of not returning to Clinton-era tax rates.

But the GOP isn’t suggesting that bondholders should absorb those sorts of cuts…oh, no, that would be unthinkable.  So why would they think that Social Security recipients are fair game?

You pay your money in, you expect to get it back as promised.

Here’s what I think will happen, during the next few weeks of government shutdown/debt-limit crisis.  I think the Republicans will stop using Obamacare as their line in the sand/can’t compromise issue.  I think they will switch to insisting on some sort of “Entitlement Reform” in exchange for not driving our economy totally off the cliff.  And “Entitlement Reform” is Tea Party lingo for making cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

At one level, I guess it’s fair to lump Social Security and Medicare into the category of “entitlements” – you pay your money in, you’re entitled to get it back as promised.

Just like the US Treasury’s bondholders are entitled to get their money back as promised.

I’m wondering how the GOP is going to explain the difference between those promises, over the next few weeks.  Can’t imagine what rhetoric they will come up with, to justify holding bondholders harmless while trying to cut Social Security benefits.


Translating from TeaPartyese: What “negotiate” really means

Stahlwille ratchet head (1/2 SQ)Don’t let them fool you.

When GOP Congressmen say they “just want to negotiate” – what they’re really saying is “we’re going to have it our way”.

And when they talk about “compromise” – they’re really talking about “ratcheting it down even further.”

You know how a ratchet works, right?  When you turn it, the screw can only go one way.  And the Tea Party’s position is: government can only get smaller.

They’re yelling about the federal deficit – and accumulated federal debt – but the only “solution” they’re willing to entertain is to cut spending.  Have you heard anybody suggest raising revenues, lately?

The fact is: as a share of the nation’s economy, federal tax revenues are at almost-record lows. Yes, they were lower, back when Harry Truman was President – but that was before Medicare was enacted in 1965.

Federal Tax Revenues as Percentage of GDP

And it looks like the GOP may have already won the federal budget game.

Remember 2011, when House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan came out with his budget“$4 trillion of cuts over decade

Remember how radical that budget seemed, back then?  How far to the right?  How extreme the cuts appeared?

Now, take a closer look at the “continuing resolution” passed by the Democratically-controlled Senate last week, in a last-ditch effort to avoid the government shutdown.

Yeah, the same “continuing resolution” that the House GOP won’t send to an up-do-down vote, without further concessions.

Funding levels in that “continuing resolution” are about 10% less than what Chairman Ryan proposed, back in 2011.

And it came from the Democrats.

And it’s still not enough for the GOP.

Ratchet, ratchet, ratchet.


Read more about how the Senate’s continuing resolution compares to the Ryan budget here.

See the tax revenue data that my chart is based on here.




Want to keep the government afloat? Here’s the list of House GOP demands

Just like the old Ginzu Knife commercials… “But wait, there’s more!”

Yes, House GOP leaders are insisting on a one-year delay of Obamacare (aka, the Affordable Care Act) as a condition of resolving this latest federal fiscal fiasco.

But that’s not all they’re looking for.

As compiled by the New York Times, here’s the list of House GOP leaders’ other demands:

…fast-track authority to overhaul the tax code, construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, offshore oil and gas production and more permitting of energy exploration on federal lands… roll back regulations on coal ash, block new Environmental Protection Agency regulations on greenhouse gas production, eliminate a $23 billion fund to ensure the orderly dissolution of failed major banks, eliminate mandatory contributions to the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, limit medical malpractice lawsuits and increase means testing for Medicare, among other provisions.

Does anybody (other than Fox News and a few hundred Internet trolls) still think the House leadership is trying to “compromise” and resolve this latest Congress-created crisis?


It’s Baaack! GOP puts US economy at risk (again) over the Keystone Pipeline

Trans Canada Keystone Oil Pipeline by Shannon Patrick via FlikrJust like an unwanted dinner guest that you can’t convince to leave, the Keystone Pipeline project is still on the GOP’s legislative agenda.  Actually, it’s now at the top of the GOP’s legislative agenda.

Read the news stories: Republican leaders have apparently given up on efforts to rein in their Tea Party legislators.  Last Friday, the House voted – for the 42nd time – in their futile attempt to repeal Obamacare.  Next Monday, the federal government is probably going to close down – because Congress can’t bring itself to pass annual Appropriations bills.  Jobs bills – and legislation to repair long-neglected roads and bridges – are gathering dust on Representatives’ shelves.  Immigration reform isn’t going anywhere.  Common-sense gun reform?  Yeah, right.  (About 8,400 Americans have been killed in the nine months since Newtown.  Crisis?  How many people have to die before Congress considers it a crisis?)

But no matter what else they’ve given up on, Republican leaders are still determined to force through TransCanada’s pipeline project.  Sometime in the next month or so, Republicans plan to use debt-ceiling legislation to bypass the administrative review process and authorize construction of the pipeline by Congressional fiat.

No, it’s not the first time the GOP has used fiscal emergencies to try to push the Keystone project through.  Back in December 2011, the Republicans traded about $30 billion in federal debt for an expedited review process (which resulted in the project being rejected).  Since then, House Republicans have inserted Keystone into four other pieces of legislation, including the federal budget.

But why does Congress even care about Keystone?  TransCanada’s pipeline is nothing more or less than a construction project built by and benefitting a private corporation.  Sort of like… if Walmart wanted to build another gazillion-square-foot distribution center.  (Except that a new Walmart distribution center would probably create more than 35 permanent jobs.  Yep, that’s the number of permanent jobs that Keystone is expected to create: just 35.)  So why is Congress getting so involved in the project permitting?

One more time: Keystone is a construction project of a privately-owned corporation.   (Wondering exactly who owns that corporation?  According to Morningstar’s shareholder records, it looks like a whole lot of TransCanada stock is owned by foreign banks.)

One more time: WHY are the Republicans insisting that TransCanada be allowed to build this pipeline?

And whatever happened to “fiscal responsibility”?  Do Republicans really want our government to default on its bills?  That’s the scenario they’re setting up, by tying the debt-limit increase to construction of this private pipeline.


You can read (experience?) the GOP’s latest press release about Keystone here.

Read NHLN’s “Why Is the House GOP Obsessed with the Keystone Pipeline” here.

Starting in Detroit… next stop: Social Security

Frederick Bancroft, prince of magicians: the wizard's enchantments, performing arts poster, ca. 1895Buried on the PBS website, there is a blog post that ought to strike fear into the heart of every working-age American.

“Detroit Today, Washington Tomorrow” takes dead aim at the Social Security system, using the same “inflate the numbers” messaging strategy that Kevyn Orr and Gov. Rick Snyder have been using lately in Detroit.

What’s the strategy?

  1. Just pick the biggest number that you can find, and use it to scare the bejeezus out of people.
  2. Once you’ve got folks focused on that huge number, it’s easy to convince them that “oh, we’re so sorry! But Detroit can’t afford to pay the retirement benefits we’ve been promising all these decades.”
  3. Nevermind that all those Detroit workers have been paying into the system, all these decades, and planning their futures based on the promises that were made.
  4. Just keep everyone’s eyes focused on that really huge number – and they won’t even think about questioning your claim that “oh, so sorry! We can’t afford it!”

It’s the rhetorical equivalent of old-fashioned magic tricks.  And just like those old-fashioned magic tricks, it will work so long as people don’t pay attention to what’s really going on.

In Detroit, they’re hiding a $326 million accumulated deficit under the rhetorical handkerchief of $18 billion in total outstanding debt.  They’re basically saying: “don’t look at that smaller deficit number (caused by cutbacks in state revenue-sharing) – look at this huge number over here!  Look at how much Detroit is supposed to pay bondholders back, over the next 30 years!  Look here, Detroit can’t afford to pay back $18 billion right now!  (Nevermind that it’s not supposed to be paid back, for decades yet.)  Look here, if we can’t afford to pay back $18 billion, then we should declare bankruptcy and get rid of the debt (that we owe to our public employees).  We just can’t afford to keep our promises!”

Can’t you just hear the calliope music?   (If not, here’s a YouTube to help get you into a properly gullible mood.)

Now, read that PBS post by Boston University professor (and presidential candidate) Larry Kotlikoff.

  1. All of a sudden, our federal debt isn’t just $12 trillion (the number that outrages Republicans, as long as nobody suggests increasing taxes to pay it back). According to Professor Kotlikoff, “the true measure of our debt – the one suggested by economic theory – is the fiscal gap, which totals $222 trillion.”
  2. Now, keep looking at this number over here – it’s really, really huge.  According to Professor Kotlikoff, “Given the $222 trillion fiscal gap … current policy is clearly not sustainable. Making it sustainable requires either an immediate and permanent 64 percent increase in all federal taxes or an immediate and permanent 38 percent cut in all spending or some combination of tax increases and spending cuts.”
  3. Nevermind all those decades that workers have been paying into the Social Security system. Again, here’s Professor Kotlikoff: “If anything, the Social Security benefits, and not the Treasury bond payments, should be recorded as official debt.”
  4. Keep folks paying attention to that really big number.  Professor Kotlikoff borrows the authoritative voice of former Secretary of State George Shultz to finish his performance: “Our country doesn’t have a lot of elder statesmen to guide us. But this tough ex-marine knows our country is broke, knows our children are threatened, and knows we’ve been hiding the truth.”

Yep, that’s where things are headed.  Detroit today, Washington tomorrow.

They’ve been trying to “reform” Social Security since Barry Goldwater ran for President.

And they’re still trying.

And they’re about to have the biggest Congress-created crisis yet.

  • Read about January’s Fiscal Cliff crisis here and here.
  • Read about the March Sequestration crisis here and here.

There is another “perfect storm” of crises coming up in the next two months: the current federal budget will expire at about the same time that the Treasury runs out of debt limit “headroom” (again, thank our federal and postal service employees, whose retirement contributions provide this reprieve!).

What sorts of magic tricks do you think they’re going to try, then?

Detroit today, Washington tomorrow.

My recommendation?  Remember Professor Kotlikoff’s patter, and keep your eyes on the magicians’ hands.


Read the LTE in response to this post.

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter Delivers Meals, Discusses Impact of Sequester on Meals on Wheels

Shea-Porter Meals on WheelsToday, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter went to the Carpenter Center in Manchester to meet with Meals on Wheels volunteers and help deliver meals to seniors at home.

Due to sequestration, New Hampshire will lose approximately $225,000 in funds that provide meals for seniors this year alone. Nationally, Meals on Wheels programs have been forced to cut, on average, 364 meals per week and have increased their waiting lists on average by 58 seniors.

During the tour, Shea-Porter helped deliver meals to seniors, including a 101 year old man and his wife.  All of the seniors spoke about how Meals and Wheels is a major factor in allowing them to stay in their homes.  Meals on Wheels also saves taxpayers money.

“When we talk about sequester, even supporters of such an ill-advised measure could not possibly intend to take hot meals away from elderly shut-ins.  Yet, that is exactly what Sequester does,” said Congresswoman Shea-Porter. “I once again call on my colleagues in Congress to repeal the Sequester and adopt a reasonable replacement.”

Congresswoman Shea-Porter did not vote for sequestration and she spoke out against these indiscriminate cuts even before she was sworn into the 113th Congress. Since then, she has consistently spoken out in opposition to sequestration’s reckless cuts.  On February 5, she sent a letter to Speaker John Boehner and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi requesting immediate action to address sequestration.  She has cosponsored multiple pieces of legislation that would eliminate the Sequester and the deficit.  She has also led a group of 21 Representatives in sending a letter to the House Appropriations Committee requesting that Federal TRIO Programs be protected from further cuts under sequestration in Fiscal Year 2014.

According to George Mason University, New Hampshire could lose over 6,300 jobs and $323 million in income for state residents under sequestration. Already, workers at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Pease Air National Guard Base, and other government agencies will see their wages cut by 20 percent for 11 weeks this year due to Congress’ failure to replace the arbitrary cuts of sequestration with a balanced plan that reduces the deficit and grows our economy.

As NH Civilian Workers Face Furloughs, Shea-Porter Calls on Congress to Replace Sequestration

Over 1,500 NH workers face up to 11 days of unpaid furloughs; economic loss is estimated at $3 million

Carol Shea-Porter_Official.2010-300x288

Rep. Carol Shea-Porter

PORTSMOUTH, NH – This week, 1,300 workers at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (PNSY) and 229 civilian technicians at Pease Air National Guard Base will join the growing list of Americans who are being punished as a result of Congress’ failure to replace the arbitrary cuts of sequestration with a balanced plan that reduces the deficit and grows our economy.

“I am extremely frustrated and disappointed that furloughs are underway at the Shipyard, Pease, and across New Hampshire in spite of the critical work being done by the hardworking men and women of our state,” Rep. Carol Shea-Porter said. “New Hampshire families are being hurt by an unnecessary pay cut because Speaker Boehner refuses to bring a responsible deficit reduction plan up for a vote. I urge every member of Congress, regardless of party, to put aside political differences and consider the effects sequestration is having on our country’s national security, our economy, and middle class families. We need to work together to replace sequestration with a plan that creates jobs, invests in infrastructure and innovation, and pays down our deficit in a balanced way.”

Workers at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard are among the roughly 650,000 U.S. Department of Defense employees facing up to 11 days of unpaid furloughs, suddenly reducing their income by 20 percent for the duration of the furloughs. This will result in a national economic impact of more than $2.04 billion. In New Hampshire, the economic loss is estimated at around $3 million.

Congresswoman Shea-Porter did not vote for sequestration and she spoke out against these indiscriminate cuts even before she was sworn into the 113th Congress. Since then, she has consistently spoken out in opposition to sequestration’s reckless cuts.

On February 5, she sent a letter to Speaker Boehner and Leader Pelosi requesting immediate action to address sequestration. In the letter, she said: “I am writing to you to express my concern that Congress has not yet dealt with the threat to our economy and national defense posed by the automatic sequestration cuts that were passed by the 112th Congress. These cuts, enacted as part of the Budget Control Act of 2011, are irresponsible and arbitrary, and would place a crippling burden on many critical departments and agencies in the federal government. In New Hampshire, we are already seeing the threat posed by sequestration as the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard has begun to take steps to prepare for it.”

On March 3, she cosponsored the Stop the Sequester Job Loss Now Act, legislation that would eliminate the sequester for calendar year 2013 entirely while reducing the deficit by more than the amount of the scheduled across-the-board spending cuts. It makes specific policy choices that reduce the deficit in a balanced way, with a mix of spending cuts and revenue increases.

On March 8, she submitted a statement to the House Budget Committee about the effects of sequestration on New Hampshire, specifically highlighting the importance of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard to the region’s economy and our nation’s national defense.

On March 12, she cosponsored H.R. 900, the Cancel the Sequester Act of 2013, a one-sentence bill that would repeal the section of the Budget Control Act of 2011 that created sequestration.

On March 21, she expressed her solidarity with Shipyard workers after they rallied against sequestration. She said, “I stand with local workers and businesses in opposition to sequestration’s irresponsible and reckless cuts.”

On March 25, she toured the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and discussed the impact of sequestration with workers and Navy leaders. After the tour, she held a press conference with Paul O’Connor, President of the Shipyard Metal Trades Council, and Shipyard workers to denounce the harm of sequestration.

On March 28, she toured Pease to discuss her fight against sequestration, gather information about its on-the-ground impact, and push for the KC-46A tanker.

On June 3, she cosponsored H.R. 2060, the Stop the Sequester Job Loss Now Through 2014 Act. The legislation would completely replace the across-the-board cuts through fiscal year 2014, while calling for a balanced solution to stop the full multi-year sequester.

On June 20, she signed a discharge petition requiring the House to work with the Senate to produce a final budget compromise.

On June 21, she led a group of 21 Representatives in sending a letter to the House Appropriations Committee requesting that Federal TRIO Programs be protected from further cuts under sequestration in Fiscal Year 2014.

On July 8, she joined members of the Maine and New Hampshire congressional delegations in hosting General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and visited PNSY and Pease to discuss furloughs caused by sequestration.

“From the Seacoast to the North Country, sequestration not only inflicts irrational cuts on education, health, and national security priorities, but it punishes hard-working families and hampers our economic recovery,” Shea-Porter concluded. “For the health of our economy and our middle class, Congress must act to replace these indiscriminate cuts with a responsible plan that will help, not hurt, our economic recovery.”

Sequester Gives Kids A Kick To The Head Start

Head StartOnce again Congress is attacking the poor working families.  These are the families that rely on programs like Head Start to get their children started in education the right way.  Time and time again is has been proven in studies like this one from the US Dept of Health and Human Services, that head start programs help children excel in school.  These types of programs have an even bigger impact on the low-income communities, who who otherwise not be able to send their children to a pre-school class.

The gains of pre-school education have been seen by everyone all the way up to the White House.  This is why President Obama pushed for an expanded pre-school program in his State of the Union address.

“Study after study shows that the sooner a child begins learning, the better he or she does down the road.  But today, fewer than 3 in 10 four year-olds are enrolled in a high-quality preschool program.  Most middle-class parents can’t afford a few hundred bucks a week for private preschool.  And for poor kids who need help the most, this lack of access to preschool education can shadow them for the rest of their lives.

Tonight, I propose working with states to make high-quality preschool available to every child in America. Every dollar we invest in high-quality early education can save more than seven dollars later on – by boosting graduation rates, reducing teen pregnancy, even reducing violent crime.”

If Head Start is so good then why is Hudson Head Start forcing more kids out of the program. You can thank the Tea Party Republicans who forced us into the Sequester.

The Sequester is the government debt reduction plan, that slashes 5% of funding for every line item in the budget.   The Sequester was a bad idea when it was proposed, and everyone knew it.  Nobody including the President every thought Congress would let the sequester actually happen.  The sequester was ment to be something so bad that both sides would actually work together to ensure that it never went into effect.  That was the plan, and the plan was and #EpicFail.

New Hampshire may be one of the smallest users of head start, but that does not mean it is not being effected.  Due to sequester cuts NH will loose $733,000 in head start funding.  These cuts are forcing the closure of two classrooms by Southern New Hampshire Service who oversees the program in parts of Southern NH.  They will be shutting the door to 9-11 employees and forcing 18 children to find another head start school (if they can) to attend.

This may seem like a minor inconvenience for a few people and a few of the families in Hudson.  But this is Husdon, NH.  They have less that 25,000 people in the town, and this is what they are doing to their Head Start program.  Can you only imagine what that will mean for bigger school districts, and communities with much higher levels of poverty than Hudson?

Across the country these ridiculously stupid sequester cuts will slam the door of economic and educational opportunity for more than 70,000 children.  Head Start is specifically targeted to those families who could not otherwise afford to send their child to a pre-school program.  Once again, Congress is balancing the budget on the backs of working families.  They are taking away the programs that are designed to lift low-income families out of poverty.

Tell Congress you will not stand for this any longer.  Tell Congress they must end the sequester cuts now.  We have seen over the last few weeks how fast Congress can act when they actually want to pass legislation.  They need to act like that now! They need to work together to save programs like Head Start and the hundreds of other programs being slashed by the sequester cuts.

Who cares about hungry families? Maybe not the Senate – but your letter carrier does

Congress is getting really good at pulling together just-after-the-last-minute political deals.

The latest deal passed the Senate unanimously last night.  (What? No filibuster?)  Apparently everybody agreed it would be a good idea to give the Federal Aviation Administration a special exemption to Sequestration.

“Just days after forced unpaid leaves for controllers began, delaying thousands of flights — 876 flights were delayed on Wednesday alone” the Senate decided that maybe Sequestration wasn’t such a good idea after all – at least not when it starts to affect the traveling public.  Read more here.

The bill is expected to pass the House today.  FAA furloughs should be a thing of the past before the Senate goes on vacation next week.

Wow. That was fast. But it’s a real shame that the Senate doesn’t care as much about hungry families as it cares about flight delays.

Take the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program (WIC), for example.  Even while Congress was debating Sequestration, “a number of state and local WIC agencies took steps to reduce their costs.  For example, some clinics laid off staff…  Some states closed or consolidated clinics… Some clinics reduced service hours…  making it harder for low-income women to apply for benefits, especially working women.”  (Read more here.)  And when the dust finally settled on this year’s budget, Congress had appropriated 7% less funding for the WIC program than it received last year.

Sequestration cut federal funding to food pantries, even though the number of people relying on food pantries is still rising.  Some pantries are hoping local benefactors will fill in the gap.  Other pantries are just closing.

Around the nation, Meals on Wheels programs are feeling the cuts.  One program in North Carolina – which has 200 people on its waiting list – is losing funding equivalent to 12,000 meals.  In Maryland, another Meals on Wheels program may be forced to cut its service from five days a week to only four.

The Sequester has hit Federal unemployment benefits, too.  About 15% of unemployed workers now receive extended unemployment benefits that are funded by the federal government.  The Sequester means those benefits will be cut by about 11% for the rest of the fiscal year.  Families’ choices about food versus housing, and which overdue bill to pay this week, are about to get a lot harder.

None of these programs are even on the radar screen, as the Senate prepares to leave town for vacation.  But flight delays?  That got solved by the Senate in record time – unanimously, to boot.

Wow.  What does that say about the priorities of our Congress?  (Read “The Republicans Make an Offer on Sequestration” here.)

Now, look at the priorities of the National Association of Letter Carriers.  Going door-to-door every day, postal carriers know the hunger problem in America all too well.

For more than two decades, the NALC has held a one-day food drive to help restock food pantries across the country.  This effort “is the country’s largest one-day food-collection effort. Last year, we picked up more than 70 million pounds of non-perishable food donations, which brought our grand total from more than two decades of collections to 1.2 billion pounds.”

2013_Stamp_Out_HungerThis year’s NALC “Stamp out Hunger” food drive will be held Saturday, May 11th (the day before Mothers Day).  Don’t forget to leave your sack of non-perishables out by your mailbox.  Want more details?  Click here.

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