Thursday, June 15, 2017

PA Budget and Policy Center Statement on SNAP (Food Stamp) Cuts

The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center is putting out a press release on the damage that proposed cuts will do to Pennsylvania.  I am the contact person for them in the Johnstown area.  The press release can be read below.  

Talking Points: Trump Budget Would Shift Huge SNAP Costs to Pennsylvania
and Put Pennsylvanians at Risk of Going Hungry

·         President Trump’s budget proposal would shift a significant share of the cost of the Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program’s (SNAP, previously known as Food Stamps) benefits to states and, for the first time, allow states to cut SNAP benefits, seriously threatening SNAP’s extraordinary long-term success in reducing severe hunger and malnutrition.

·         The proposal threatens to dramatically increase the number of Pennsylvanians at risk of going hungry.

·         Historically, SNAP benefits have been financed with federal funds to ensure that regional disparities in hunger, poverty and resources are properly addressed which has helped ensure that low-income households have access to adequate food despite regardless of where they live. 

·         The President’s budget would end this longstanding and successful approach by forcing states to cover 10 percent of SNAP benefit costs beginning in 2020, and increasing that share to 25 percent in 2023 and later years. The proposal would cut federal SNAP funding by $116 billion over a decade.

·         Once the provision was fully in effect, Pennsylvania would face at least[AH1]  $682 million in additional annual costs. Over the full ten years, the federal disinvestment proposed in the Trump budget would result in nearly $4.2 billion in SNAP costs being passed onto Pennsylvania – costs the state simply cannot afford.

·         Pennsylvania would be unable to absorb such significant cost shifts without cutting SNAP benefits and taking other steps that could increase hunger and hardship.

·         These added costs are part of a massive overall cost shift to states in the President’s budget. In total, the President’s budget would shift about $453 billion annually to states and localities by 2027. 
·         At the same time, the President is proposing massive tax cuts largely for the wealthy and corporations that would likely cost several trillion dollars over the coming decade.

 [AH1]State advocates:  Please choose which of these is appropriate for your state.  

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Sunday, June 11, 2017

How children view the current state of politics

I once met a third grader who flashed a card in my face and said "FBI!"  I was thinking about her when I was watching James Comey testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee. I couldn't help but wonder if she was watching.  She's too young to hear about J. Edgar Hoover but she might understand what Comey was talking about. 

Above is a photo of a bracket of a competition for the most influential American of all time in an NCAA tournament bracket format at Johnstown Middle School this year.  Martin Luther King ended up beating out George Washington for the title.  Students made presentations for their favorite candidate at each round and students voted on who would advance.  Bernie Sanders beat out Presidents Madison, Johnson, and Reagan to make the elite eight before losing out to eventual winner Martin Luther King.  I'm sure Bernie's not too disappointed in losing out to King.  

Young voters are idealistic.  I saw plenty of that working on the Bernie campaign (pictured above).  The challenge is what happens to that idealism when it runs into realpolitik.  My group was working to pass an anti-discrimination ordinance for LGBTQIA citizens for Johnstown, PA (pictured below).  The council voted to table it in two straight meetings and then after the primary election voted it down 6-1 in a hastily called meeting.  Even Councilman David Vitovich who introduced the bill voted against it. 

The student movements of the 60's (of which Bernie Sanders was a part) did have successes in rolling back discriminatory laws in the south but when the movement turned north and against the Vietnam War it ran into stiffer opposition.  The challenge when running into opposition is keeping one's "Eyes on the Prize" as the classic PBS series exclaims to keep the momentum going.

Next on the council's agenda is the creation of a hate crimes bill.  Will the council act responsibly?  Keep making your voice heard to make sure it does.

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Paul Ricci, Independent for Johnstown, PA City Council