Sunday, 15 February 2009

THE END OF WELFARE REFORM

Ken Berwitz

How does it stimulate the economy to make it easier for millions and millions of people to take handouts?

Thanks to the stealfromus package, we're about to find out.

Here is an excellent article from Tony Allen-Mills of the London Times, about this facet of the spend-a-thon - one that our wonderful "neutral" media is, as usual, far less likely to tell us about.  The bold print is mine:

From
February 15, 2009

Obama warned over welfare spendathon

The new administration's economic stimulus plan may undo reforms that cut the dole queues, critics say

RONALD REAGAN started it, Bill Clinton finished it and last week Barack Obama was accused of engineering its destruction. One of the few undisputed triumphs of American government of the past 20 years the sweeping welfare reform programme that sent millions of dole claimants back to work has been plunged into jeopardy by billions of dollars in state handouts included in the presidents controversial economic stimulus package.

As Obama celebrated Valentines Day yesterday with a return to his Chicago home for a private weekend with family and friends, his success in piloting a $785 billion (546 billion) stimulus package through Congress was being overshadowed by warnings that an unprecedented increase in welfare spending would undermine two decades of bipartisan attempts to reduce dependency on government handouts.

Robert Rector, a prominent welfare researcher who was one of the architects of Clinton's 1996 reform bill, warned last week that Obamas stimulus plan was a welfare spendathon that would amount to the largest one-year increase in government handouts in American history.

Douglas Besharov, author of a big study on welfare reform, said the stimulus bill passed by Congress and the Senate in separate votes on Friday would unravel most of the 1996 reforms that led to a 65% reduction in welfare caseloads and prompted the British and several other governments to consider similar measures.

Despite dire warnings that reduced benefits for single mothers and deadlines on entitlement would create a social calamity one liberal senator warned at the time that children would be sleeping on grates the 1996 reforms cut welfare rolls from more than 5m families in 1995 to below 2m a decade later without a discernible increase in hardship.

In the American political lexicon, welfare has since become a dirty word often referred to as the W word and nothing arouses US tabloid ire more than the hint that taxpayers money is being wasted.

When it emerged that Nadya Suleman, the mother of octuplets born in Los Angeles last month, was a single mom with six children already and was relying on welfare assistance, she was transformed overnight from fertility goddess to the target of death threats.

Obama argued last week that his bill was essential for reviving the US economy and protecting victims of the credit crunch. Yet his Republican rivals have seized on the billions lavished on new welfare spending to stir the conservative faithful from their postelection misery and reunite the opposition.

If you like government dependence, you will love the plan they are jamming through Congress, declared Michael Steele, the new chairman of the Republican National Committee.

Rector, a senior scholar at the conservative Heritage Foundation, argued that Obamas spending proposals in effect encouraged individual states to add more families to their welfare rolls; the more Americans sign on to the dole, the more state budgets will benefit from US Treasury payouts.

They have completely overturned the fiscal and policy foundations of welfare reform, Rector complained.

Supporters of the bill argue that the current crisis is so grave that intellectual quibbling about the nature of welfare has to take second place to the upheaval transforming millions of American lives.

How can you tell someone who has lost his income to look for another job if there aren't any more jobs? asked one Obama backer.

While some scholars are beginning to suspect that Clintons welfare reforms were fatally flawed or at least viable only during an economic boom Republicans are not alone in fearing that Obamas hastily concocted package is the first step towards the creation of a quasi-socialist welfare state.

Even Mickey Kaus, a prominent liberal blogger, has denounced what he describes as the get more people on welfare provisions of Obamas bill. Writing at Slate, the political website, Kaus said: Lack of jobs isnt a reason to loosen work requirements . . . Have the Dems never heard of workfare?

Give recipients useful community service work, and if they do the work, then they get the [welfare] cash.

Returning to Chicago for the first time since his inauguration last month, there were other pressing matters on Obamas mind not to mention the minds of millions of Americans still enthralled by his every move. Where would he take his wife Michelle for a romantic Valentines dinner? How much time would he spend in the gym? Would he fit in a game of basketball?

Opinion polls last week showed that for all his administrations errors in his first three weeks in office, the new president has lost little of his personal appeal. He continues to enjoy an average 64% approval rating.

Yet after another fracas over the withdrawal of the Republican senator Judd Gregg as Obamas choice for commerce secretary the second time a nominee has given up the post Obamas chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, was obliged to insist that it was not amateur hour at the White House.

Obama also stumbled over a curious claim that his stimulus plan would enable Caterpillar, one of Americas leading manufacturers of heavy earth-moving equipment, to start rehiring workers. He was promptly contradicted by the companys chief executive, who said he had no such intention and was planning more lay-offs.

The dangers are beginning to pile up for the novice president and his struggling economic crew. Tim Geithner, his treasury secretary, tripped up with opaque attempts to explain how the administration would fix the banking crisis, while from every corner of the country there were alarming indications that increased government intervention in the lives of ordinary Americans could prove an invitation to waste.

In Wisconsin, the state that forged a pioneering path in welfare reforms in the 1990s, residents were astonished by a newspaper investigation that disclosed that a $340m (236m) programme offering taxpayer-financed child care to low-income working parents was riddled with fraud and expensive loopholes.

In one case, a family of four sisters who had 17 children between them put all of them together, took it in turns to babysit them and over the past three years claimed $540,000 (374,000) in perfectly legal state childcare subsidies.

Examples like that fuel American suspicion that so-called big government invariably turns out to be inefficient, expensive and easily exploitable. And there has been no bigger government action in the US than the stimulus package presented by Obama.

Few dispute the need for some kind of stimulus, but has Obama got the details right? The Republicans do not think so and, led by Gregg, they are already shunning the presidents bipartisan overtures.

Perhaps more worrying for the president is that some of his natural liberal supporters are not feeling all that confident either. In a telling commentary last week, Paul Krugman, the 2008 Nobel prize-winning economist, declared that Obamas stimulus victory feels more than a bit like defeat.

Krugman added: Ive got a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach a feeling that America just isnt rising to the greatest economic challenge in 70 years.

Asking again:  Do you seriously think this will stimulate the economy?  Do you think it will incent people to find?

We elected Barack Obama, and gave him a distortedly Democratic congress so he could ram the stealfromus package through and  make it law.  This is our doing.

And if you think the welfare part is bad, wait until you see what this monsosity of a bill is going to do to health care.


ISRAEL PEACE PARTNER UPDATE

Ken Berwitz

Just in case anyone is starting to forget who and what Israel is supposed to be making peace with...........

This comes to us from Amnesty International (no fan of Israel's at all), via www.sweetness-light.com:

Hamas Attacks Suspected Collaborators

February 15th, 2009

From Amnesty International, via LiveLeak:

Hamas Deadly Campaign Against Suspected Collaborators

February 2009

Since the end of December 2008, during and after the Israeli military offensive which killed some 1,300 Palestinians, most of them civilians, Hamas forces and militias in the Gaza Strip have engaged in a campaign of abductions, deliberate and unlawful killings, torture and death threats against those they accuse of collaborating with Israel, as well as opponents and critics.

At least two dozen men have been shot dead by Hamas gunmen in this period. Scores of others have been shot in the legs, kneecapped or inflicted with other injuries intended to cause permanent disability, subjected to severe beatings which have caused multiple fractures and other injuries, or otherwise tortured or ill-treated

The targets include former detainees accused of collaborating with the Israeli army who escaped from Gazas central prison when it was bombed by Israeli forces on 28 December 2008. Other targets included former members of the Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces and other activists of the Fatah party.

Most of the victims were abducted from their homes; they were later dumped dead or injured in isolated areas, or were found dead in the morgue of one of Gazas hospitals. Some were shot dead in the hospitals where they were receiving treatment for injuries they sustained in the Israeli bombardment of Gazas Central Prison

Mind you, as the article notes, the people being attacked are mostly member of the late Mr. Arafats merry band, the Fatah.

Its not like they arent also murderous terrorists.

They just are quite murderous enough.

If it were Israelis doing this to suspected hamas "collaborators" (and with 1/8th of Israel comprised of Palestinian Arabs, you can bet they exist), the world would be in a mega-uproar.

But it is just hamas, whom the Palestinian Arabs of Gaza elected to govern them, so it's nothing worth talking about.  No hurriedly called emergency meetings at the UN, no condemnations, no nothing. 

I've often called the UN a dead organization; spritually, morally and ethically dead.  This is one of the many reasons I do so.

Can you look at this and disagree?


OBAMA'S CHANGE OF POLICY TOWARD ISRAEL

Ken Berwitz

The scary part is that there actually are a few people (I know, I've spoken with them) who thought that Barack Obama would be a strong supporter of Israel.

They conned themselves into this ridiculous fairy tale even after he stacked his election campaign with anti-Israel people (Malley, McPeak, Brzezinski, Lake, Powers, Circinione, etc).

I would say that a blind person could see there would be changes in policy toward Israel, none of them good.  But, for a large number of people, especially among the 78% of Jews who voted for him, there appears to have been a special blindness that made it impossible to see the obvious.

But now the election is over.  The country has put Barack Obama into the White House and given him crushing majorities in both houses of congress.  So he can pretty much do whatever he pleases.

Mr. Obama's first order of business was nationalizing the country with the monstrous "stealfromus package".  But he has found time to severely damage our relations with Israel as well.  Here is the story, from the Jerusalem Post via www.littlegreenfootballs.com:

Obama Administration to Help Plan Durban 2

World | Sun, Feb 15, 2009 at 12:51:50 pm PST

The first United Nations conference on racism held in Durban, South Africa, turned into an incredibly vile display of antisemitic hatred, now notorious as one of the worst travesties in the UNs travesty-filled history.

And now the Obama administration is planning to participate in the next one: US to help plan Durban 2 conference.

The Obama administration said late Saturday it would participate in planning for a UN conference on racism dubbed Durban 2 despite concerns the meeting will be used by Arab nations and others to demonize Israel.

The State Department said it would send diplomats next week to participate in preparatory meetings for the World Conference Against Racism, which is set to be held in Geneva, Switzerland in April and which some countries including Israel have already decided to boycott. In a statement released late Saturday, the State Department said the US delegation to the planning discussions would review current direction of conference preparations and whether US participation in the conference itself is warranted.

This will be the first opportunity the (Obama) administration has had to engage in the negotiations for the Durban Review, and - in line with our commitment to diplomacy - the US has decided to send a delegation to engage in the negotiations on the text of the conference document, the department said. The intent of our participation is to work to try to change the direction in which the review conference is heading, it said. We hope to work with other countries that want the Conference to responsibly and productively address racism around the world.

Good luck with that.

No self respecting US government would have a thing to do with the depraved hate-fest that is "Durban II".  We saw what Durban I was, walked out of it, and would not touch it with a ten foot pole.

But under Barack Obama?  We're players.  Right in the thick of this ant-Semitic smorgasbord. 

Oh, but we will try to make them change direction, you see.  That's our rationale for being there.  Based on who runs Durban II and what it was the first time, this has all the credibility of an austerity promise from Citibank.

To the supporters of Israel who voted for Barack Obama: 

-What were you thinking?

-Were you thinking at all?

-Have you finally started to think now, after it is too late and he is the President? 

I hope you're happy with yourselves.


THE STEALFROMUS PACKAGE: HEALTH CARE DIVISION

Ken Berwitz

My previous blog warned that the stealfromus package is even worse regarding health care than it is regarding what effectively will be the end of welfare reform.

Here is a column by Austin Hill at www.townhall.com, that explains what I'm talking about.  The bold print is mine:

Democrats, Health Care "Reform," And Your "Duty To Die"
by Austin Hill

Welcome to the Era of Obama. You now have a duty to die.

I'm not saying that someday you will die (that's a given).

And I'm not saying that you should be given the "right to die" - - the freedom to take your own life, or to direct your Doctor to put you out of your misery - - that's something entirely different.

I'm saying that someday, if current trends continue, your United States Government will determine that you have a duty, an obligation, to die.

Its bad enough that hundreds of congressional members voted to spend nearly one trillion of our dollars, without even reading the so-called economic stimulus bill and without knowing fully what our money is being spent on. Its even more horrific to know that more of our tax dollars are being allocated to the Office Of Health Information and Technology, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services, and that the bill also provides for the beginnings of a nationwide health records database that will track the healthcare of every person in the country.

As recently as last Monday, President Obama was praising the nationalization of health records, and the conversion of health records to electronic formats, noting that managing electronic data is less costly than managing hardcopy documents. But unfortunately, the creation of a nationalized health records database also creates another means of cost cutting - - namely, the denial of medical treatments to severely ill and elderly patients.

Language in the health care sections of the stimulus bill stipulates that the Department of H.H.S. will provide appropriate information to help guide medical decisions at the time and place of care, and also allows for penalties to be assessed to physicians who spend too much on individual patients. Essentially, we now have the beginnings of a governmental agency that eventually will, by force of law, determine which persons will be eligible for health care, and what treatment they will receive.

As noted in a recent Bloomberg news article, the way in which the Office Of Health Information and Technology is being expanded emulates the plans put forth in Critical: What We Can Do About The Health Care Crisis, a book authored by former Senator (and would-be HHS Secretary) Tom Daschle. In the book, Daschle praises the Western European nations for, among other things, the ways in which they have nationalized health care, and have contained health care costs.

Yet, not surprisingly, Western Europes utopian ambitions to insure everybody and make healthcare free have by no means been realized. In fact, the nationalizing of healthcare in Europe has led to worsening government deficits, and increased healthcare costs, and efforts to contain those costs have resulted in the denial of treatment to those persons not expected to live much longer - - that is, the elderly and the seriously ill.

This need to deny people health care has frequently, in Europe, been cast in terms of ones duty to die. The idea is that, once you have lived long enough; after you have consumed your fair share of the earths resources; and when your combined age and health conditions make it obvious that further efforts to prolong your life just simply arent worth it; you will then have a responsibility to accept these consequences, and to accept that youll just have to get along without life-sustaining healthcare.

In other words, once a government employee has determined that spending healthcare resources on you will not produce much of a return on the investment, you will then have a duty to die.

Forget the notion that the Doctor-patient relationship is sacred, or that you will make private decisions about your health care, in consultation with your Doctor. If Democrats continue the trend of "Europeanizing" our American health care, the office of the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology will eventually be overseeing your healthcare, making sure that if your Doctor spends too much on you, they will face federal penalties, the likes of which have yet to be fully defined.

For over three decades, the Democratic Party has insisted that it is wrong for government to interfere with a womans medical decisions with respect to the child in the womb. Now, President Obama and congressional Democrats are insisting that government must be involved in everybodys medical decisions. Worse yet, their proposals threaten human life on yet another front: not only are unborn children threatened by their policies, but so, also, are the ill and the elderly.

If Americans continue voting for more government as a means to cure all our societal ills, we will continue to move closer to the point where anonymous government bureaucrats determine when you have lived long enough, when you have consumed your fair share of resources, and when it is obvious that you wont live much longer.

President Obama and the Democratic Congress are determined to take us to this point.

Did you realize this was in the steafromus package?  I bet a lot of you didn't.  You do now.

Did you realize just how chock full of programs it is that have nothing to do with stimulating the economy but are quantum leaps toward a welfare state in which government bureaucracy oversees our everyday live?  You do now?

Did you realize that this legislation brings us significantly closer to the day when someone sitting at a desk far away can override your doctor's diagnosis and treatment?  You do now.

This is what was just passed by the Democrats (I say Democrats instead of congress because, with three exceptions out of over 200, not one Republican in either house would put his/her name on it).

The electorate wanted one-party government? 

This is what it got.  I hope we're all deliriously happy over it.  Because it will be two years before we can do anything about it.


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