MANKATO, Minn. —
The Mankato, Minn., Free Press: Stop gridlock
on farm bill
With a hopeful sound of gridlock cracking, U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Wednesday that he will vote for the House farm bill even though he has “concerns.” He reasons that “doing nothing means we get no changes in the nutrition programs.”
He may be merely pragmatic but we’ll take it. Rural Republicans are tired of the delays and want the five-year subsidy measure enacted.
The Senate bill recently passed includes the end of a long-standing practice of funneling direct payments — totaling $47 billion from 2002-11 — to farmers regardless of crop yields or economic circumstances.
The measure plows those savings into expanding the crop insurance support as well as other assistance that offsets impacts on farmers. It is estimated that such a move will cut $18 billion in government spending over the next decade. That’s not peanuts and both parties see benefits especially in the timing with the high prices of both farm land and many crops.
The sticking point, however, comes with the rest — or should we say the bulk — of what makes up the so-called farm bill and that’s the food stamp program.
The cost of the food stamp program has risen 41 percent — or $75.7 billion — from 2009 to 2011 as a result of the economic downturn. The House wants to cut $20 billion or 3 percent over the next decade. The Democrat-led Senate is offering $4 billion during the same period by tightening requirements.
But the amount of cuts is just one key sticking point.
Another is a loophole some states employ to avoid picking up any assistance tab. Under the federal rules, families earning 130 percent of poverty rate — or about $30,000 for a family of four — qualify for food stamps.
Some states grant benefits at 200 percent and avoiding picking up any of the costs.
The House wants this loophole closed which seems reasonable and is part of the cut to the federal outlay.
If fraud and abuse were that easy to cut, it should have been done long ago by the oversight committee of either party. What is realistic now is slowly trimming back the ever-growing food stamp program especially in light of an improving economy, pocketing the savings from the shift in direct payments and basking in the knowledge that Congress can compromise when it wants to.
MANKATO, Minn. —
The Mankato, Minn., Free Press: Stop gridlock
Downtown development could bring north, south sides together
Peter Ackroyd is a British historian who has written extensively about the city of London. One of his most recent works, “Thames: The Biography” details the extensive role that that waterway has played in the history of the United Kingdom.
The word Thames is one of the oldest names recorded in England, Ackroyd reports, and may owe its origins to the ancient Celtic word for running water. Julius Caesar constructed a bridge over the Thames in 54 BC to facilitate his invasion of the British Isles, and it was on the banks of the Thames at Runnymede where King John was forced to sign the Magna Carta in 1215.
When Queen Elizabeth II commemorated her 50 years on the British throne several years ago by leading a regatta down the Thames, she was part of a thousand-year-old tradition of British monarchs sailing on that waterway.
HEY HINK: Government advice goes against centuries of examples
Of all the harebrained advice I’ve heard doled out over the years this has to be the dumbest: Sign on the dotted line and “don’t worry about the price tag.” This is precisely the message our federal government is belching out to America’s young people to persuade them to sign up for Obamacare. It reminds me of the Three Stooges episode where Moe tells Curly not to worry about the explosion because “dynamite always blows down.” The image of a grasping federal bureaucracy enticing young Americans to sign onto the most aggressive power grab in this country’s history while murmuring “don’t worry about the price tag,” is almost too far-fetched to believe. Unfortunately, it’s all too true.
Good Samaritans aid motorists during storm
Thursday afternoon, a mixture of sleet and snow fell on Edmond, creating slick and hazardous streets in parts of the city.
An example of legalized corruption
Almost one year ago, Sen. Clark Jolley, R-Edmond, asked me to assist him in bringing an end to what appeared to be a practice of legalized corruption. Having worked with Jolley on numerous modernization and efficiency measures, I have learned to pay close attention to his concerns. He frequently proposes cost-saving and efficiency reforms, and his proposals are taken seriously by the Legislature. Jolley had received reports from whistleblowers who exposed extremely disturbing abuses and he wanted to work on legislation to stop the practice.
LETTER: Student urges leaders to not wait on entitlement reform
To the Editor:
I am 28 years old and will only be just older than 40 by the time Medicare and Social Security programs are projected to fail. This is very concerning for young people like myself who are paying into this system and likely will not see any benefits from it. I 100 percent agree that some serious reform is needed to strengthen these programs. I think it is also important for lawmakers to help create laws that protect the privately insured from insurance companies dropping or disqualifying people from coverage. I believe this would help to keep many who can afford private health care from having to rely on Medicare and Social Security funds.
Grandparents of disabled child ‘now have hope’
An Oklahoma scholarship program for special-needs children is once again under attack.
“A motley crew of plaintiffs has filed a lawsuit asking the Oklahoma courts to toss out the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship for students with disabilities,” writes Oklahoma City University law professor Andrew Spiropoulos. “This renewed attempt to sever a lifeline for a small group of disabled students is vindictive because these plaintiffs know that these children suffered horribly in public schools. The program enables these children to escape an environment of bullying, ineffective instruction, and profound neglect and find specialized schools where they can blossom and reveal the beauty of their true nature.”
LETTER: Volunteers make Thanksgiving dinner successful
To the Editor:
How do you thank 711 people for helping you? On Thanksgiving Day my belief in the goodness of man and that Edmond has the most giving citizens was reinforced.
Starting on the Saturday before that day, I met the first ones as they worked diligently to clean equipment in preparation for cooking the Edmond Community Thanksgiving Dinner. More people came to three sites on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday to cook and carve.
Employer mandate delayed, but Obamacare destruction goes on
Some 60 percent of Americans — nearly 160 million people — get insurance through their jobs. Thanks to Obamacare, that number is about to nosedive. The president’s signature law is hiking the cost of health insurance for American businesses of all sizes. They’re responding by dumping coverage for workers, spouses and retirees.
Even though the employer mandate, which requires all firms with 50 or more full-time staffers to provide health coverage or pay a fine, has been delayed by one year, the employer health insurance market is slowly bleeding out.
Freedom is more likely to stimulate potential geniuses than gifted programs
If high IQ scores are not reliable indicators of genius, what are? Advocates of gifted children hope schools can be designed to turn intellectual promise into world-changing creativity.
Frederick eyes its future renovation
Terence Malik is an American filmmaker who spent part of his youth in Bartlesville. He is perhaps best known for the critically acclaimed 1978 movie “Days of Heaven” that is set in the Texas Panhandle before the First World War during the harvest season. The late film critic Roger Ebert described “Days of Heaven” as “one of the most beautifully photographed films ever made” and praised Malik for evoking “the loneliness and beauty of the limitless Texas Prairie” Ebert wrote of how the characters in the film appeared to be on a land “to large for its inhabitants” and that they seemed to struggle with the “weight of the land.” And a visitor to Frederick, in Southwestern Oklahoma, where the land has a topography comparable to the Texas prairie, encounters visual images that are similar to the ones contained in Malik’s movie.
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