Morning Action: What Needs to Change in the “War on Poverty”

POVERTY.   President Obama and the Democrats are attempting to argue on the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon B. Jonson’s “War on Poverty” that their party fights poverty most effectively:

Nancy Pelosi and other House Democrats will mark the occasion with an event attended by Johnson’s eldest daughter, Lynda Bird Johnson Robb. You can also expect floor speeches from Democrats like Patty Murray. Members of the conservative Republican Study Committee will hold their own news conference this morning commemorating Johnson’s celebrated State of the Union in which he declared a “War on Poverty.” 

The Heritage Foundation discusses how to fight poverty effectively — and good intentions aren’t enough:

We need to change the character of public assistance. That means redirecting incentives in federal welfare programs. “Sometimes those incentives encourage dependence, even for generations,” said Robert L. Woodson, Sr., founder and president of the Center for Neighborhood Enterprisetestifying before the Senate Budget Committee last year. Woodson sees firsthand the effects of these programs as he works with community leaders across the country to empower those in need to overcome adversity.

On the other hand, the right kind of incentives can “help people gain personal responsibility and pursue their dreams,” observes Woodson. Transforming incentives to promote personal responsibility has a dramatic effect: After the 1996 welfare reform began to require recipients to work or prepare for work, welfare rolls fell by more than half, and poverty rates among single mothers and black children fell to historic lows.

OMNIBUS.  Lawmakers got closer to a final deal on the omnibus to appropriate funds for government government agencies Tuesday night, but Obamacare funding remains a sticking point:

Funding for implementing the new health care law and other sticking points remain, but negotiators reported significant progress Tuesday on a $1.1 trillion spending bill to fund the government through September.

A top aide accompanying Mikulski back to her office told reporters that the budgets for the Pentagon and the Commerce, Justice, Agriculture, Housing and Urban Development, Veterans Affairs and Transportation departments are “virtually wrapped up.”

But the two sides remain at odds over funding to implement so-called Obamacare and a 2010 overhaul of financial regulations, and they’re still sorting through more than 130 policy items known as “riders” in Washington-speak, many of which are backed by conservatives seeking to derail Obama administration environmental and labor regulations.

CONTINUING RESOLUTION.  If an agreement is not reached on the omnibus by January 15, Congress may need to pass a continuing resolution (sub. req’d):

Despite the progress, lingering disagreements are making it increasingly likely that a draft of a final agreement won’t make it to House and Senate leaders until possibly over the weekend. That means Congress could miss a Jan. 15 deadline for final passage and need a short-term stopgap spending bill to avert another government shutdown.

KEYSTONE.  A former Obama advisor recommends the president approve the keystone pipeline:

Tom Donilon, President Obama’s former national security adviser, said Tuesday that if he were still in the administration he would probably recommend approving the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

During an Aspen Institute event, Donilon, seemed hesitant to weigh in on the issue. “I know you’re not in the administration anymore, so maybe you could answer. Would you recommend for the Keystone pipeline if you were there?” Walter Isaacson, president and CEO of the Aspen Institute, asked.

UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE.  Here are the negative effects of extending unemployment benefits for too long, that :

Many economists, including two former Obama economic advisers, Princeton professor Alan Krueger and Harvard professor Larry Summers, have written that extending benefits increases unemployment. The longer the duration of unemployment benefits, the longer people stay out of work.

Research shows that the unemployed turn down lower-paying jobs even though they are losing job skills from remaining out of the labor force. The longer they are out of work, the more their skills atrophy. It is a vicious cycle leading to more long-term unemployment.

Obama should listen to his former advisers.

Similarly, Heritage argues:

Want the unemployment rate to stay stagnant, rise, or not decrease as quickly as possible? Then support an extension of unemployment benefits.

Sure, liberals are touting the three-month extension (which isn’t offset by spending cuts elsewhere, despite its hefty $6.5 billion price tag) as an act of compassion for struggling unemployed Americans. But the data shows a different picture: Give people unemployment benefits, and it’s likely they will take longer to find employment.

FARM BILL.  Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) 5% says she is “feeling very good” about the farm bill — a nearly $1 trillion piece of legislation that was negotiated behind closed doors by lawmakers who failed to implement necessary reforms:

Old farm bill tensions over dairy policy broke back into the open Tuesday even as Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow pushed for a quick wrap-up of the five-year plan, which has been largely been resolved already in House-Senate negotiations.

“We’re just tying up loose ends. Feeling very good about things” said the Michigan Democrat, who predicted a meeting of the full farm bill conference would be called before the end of the week.

“We just have to get through that conference committee, get the report signed,” Stabenow told reporters. “There’s a desire to get this done by everybody.”

Except for one public meeting, most of the negotiations have been carried out behind closed doors by Stabenow, Lucas, Peterson and Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran, the ranking Republican in the Senate. The meeting this week, expected Thursday or Friday, appears designed to allow the full conference to weigh in on several outstanding issues. But most are minor next to the political implications of dairy.

OBAMACARE. Obamacare support continues to weaken in light of its many failures and the harm is has caused to millions of Americans, especially American workers:

The troubled launch of America’s first online public health insurance exchanges may have eroded consumers’ confidence in Obamacare, President Barack Obama’s landmark health care reform.

Bankrate’s latest Health Insurance Pulse survey shows that 48 percent of all respondents would repeal Obamacare, while 38 percent would keep it in place.

If consumers are feeling more positive about their health insurance situation overall, many of those with employer-sponsored plans say they’re shouldering a greater share of the load for their coverage these days. Among those surveyed, nearly half (47 percent) say more money is being drained from their paycheck to pay for health insurance, and 44 percent report their deductibles, copays and other out-of-pocket expenses have risen.


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