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Tags: Obama_Hikes_Welfare_41-percent | Trump Bash for Ann Romney | U.S. Supermax Prison | Alabama Sales Tax | Climate Change Alarmist

Obama Hikes Welfare 41%; Trump's Bash for Ann Romney Nets $660K

By    |   Sunday, 22 April 2012 09:08 PM

Insider Report

Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Welfare Spending Up 41 Percent Under Obama
2. European Court: U.S. Supermax Prison Not 'Inhumane'
3. Trump's Birthday Bash for Ann Romney Raises $660K
4. Study: Polar Bear Population 'Not in Crisis'
5. Highest Sales Taxes Are in Alabama
6. Climate Change Alarmist: Let Skeptics' Houses Burn

1. Welfare Spending Up 41 Percent Under Obama

In 1964, when President Lyndon Johnson declared a "war on poverty" in America, the poverty rate stood at around 19 percent.

Since then, total federal, state, and local spending on anti-poverty programs has amounted to $15 trillion, yet the poverty rate now stands at 15.1 percent, the highest level in nearly a decade.

"Clearly we are doing something wrong," according to the Cato Institute, which has released a new policy analysis on welfare spending that calls the war on poverty a "failure."

The federal government will spend more than $668 billion on anti-poverty programs this year, an increase of 41 percent or more than $193 billion since President Barack Obama took office. State and local government expenditures will amount to another $284 billion, bringing the total to nearly $1 trillion — far more than the $685 billion spent on defense.

Federal, state and local governments now spend $20,610 a year for every poor person in the United States, or $61,830 for each poor family of three.

"Given that the poverty line for that family is just $18,530, we should have theoretically wiped out poverty in America many times over," writes Michael Tanner, director of health and welfare studies at the Cato Institute and author of "The Poverty of Welfare: Helping Others in Civil Society."

Most welfare programs are means-tested programs providing cash, food, housing, medical care, or other benefits to low-income persons and families, or programs targeted at communities or disadvantaged groups, such as the homeless.

The federal government alone now funds 126 separate and often overlapping programs designed to fight poverty, Tanner points out.

There are 33 housing programs run by four different cabinet departments, 21 programs providing food or food-purchasing assistance administered by three different federal departments and one independent agency, and eight healthcare programs administered by five separate agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services.

The largest welfare program is Medicaid, which provides benefits to 49 million Americans and cost more than $228 billion last year, followed by the food stamps program, with 41 million participants and a price tag of nearly $72 billion. Other programs range from Federal Pell Grants ($41 billion) down to lower-cost programs such as Weatherization Assistance for Low Income Persons ($250 million) and the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program ($20 million).

At least 106 million Americans receive benefits from one or more of these programs. Including entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare and salaries for government employees, more than half of Americans now receive a substantial portion of their income from the government.

"Clearly we are spending more than enough money to have significantly reduced poverty, yet we haven't," Tanner concludes.

"The vast majority of current programs are focused on making poverty more comfortable rather than giving people the tools that will help them escape poverty.

"And we actually have a pretty solid idea of the keys to getting out of and staying out of poverty: finish school, do not get pregnant outside marriage, and get a job, any job, and stick with it."

Editor's Note:

2. European Court: U.S. Supermax Prison Not 'Inhumane'

Lawyers for al-Qaida terrorist Abu Hamza and five other men indicted on terror charges argued before a European court that they would face "inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment" if extradited to the United States and jailed at the Supermax prison in Colorado.

But the Strasbourg, France-based European Court of Human Rights has ruled that the facility provides prisoners with more generous services and activities than do most prisons in Europe.

The attorneys had argued that incarcerating the men at the Supermax (super-maximum security) facility in Florence, Colo. — officially called the United States Penitentiary Administrative Maximum and also known as ADX Florence — would violate article three of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The seven-judge panel ruled unanimously on April 10 that article three would not be violated "as a result of conditions of detention at ADX Florence."

The panel stated that while inmates at ADX Florence are confined to their cells most of the time, they are also "provided with services and activities (television, radio, newspapers, books, hobby and craft items, telephone calls, social visits, correspondence with families, group prayer) which went beyond what was provided in most prisons in Europe."

It also noted that some of the prison's inmates are in a "step-down program." The program runs on a three-year cycle, with prisoners kept in their cells 23 hours a day for the first year, then gradually allowed more contact with other inmates. In their third year they may be out of their cells for up to 16 hours a day, CNS News reported.

According to a Federal Bureau of Prisons document, inmates can receive five visits a month, with up to three visitors each time. Visits can last a maximum of seven hours.

Inmates may also play basketball, handball, and table games, and purchase snacks, toiletries, stationery, games, batteries, digital radios, and prayer rugs, according to CNS News.

Inmates serving life sentences at ADX Florence include "Unabomber" Theodore Kaczynski, so-called shoe bomber Richard Reid, 1993 World Trade Center bombing mastermind Ramzi Yousef, and Oklahoma City co-conspirator Terry Nichols.

Abu Hamza is charged with funding al-Qaida training camps in Afghanistan and helping a group that kidnapped 16 Western tourists in Yemen in 1998. Four hostages died.

He and the other five terror suspects are currently behind bars in Britain. They have three months to appeal the court's decision before a final ruling is handed down.

Editor's Note:

3. Trump's Birthday Bash for Ann Romney Raises $660K

A luncheon hosted by Donald and Melania Trump in honor of Ann Romney's 63rd birthday raised more than $660,000 for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign.

The Tuesday event at the Trumps' Manhattan triplex was originally set to hold 200 people. But when that capacity was filled within 48 hours of invitations going out, the campaign "began to panic," according to Trump spokesman Michael Cohen, and asked if the guest list could be extended to 400 persons.

The $1,000-a-plate luncheon then had to be held in two shifts, with the first attending and spending time with Ann Romney from noon to 1:15 p.m. and the second from 1:30 to 3:00, CBS News reported.

The birthday cake at the affair was created by celebrity chef Buddy Valastro of the Bravo TV show "Cake Boss," and featured an ornament of Ann Romney atop a horse standing in a field of green frosting, according to ABC News. Romney is an avid horseback rider.

Donald Trump endorsed Mitt Romney in February and has since recorded robo-calls for the GOP's presumptive nominee.

Spokesman Cohen said Tuesday's Trump event proved so successful that the Romney campaign asked the real estate mogul to host another fundraiser when Romney secures the nomination. Cohen said tickets to that event would sell for $50,000 and 50 donors have already expressed interesting in attending.

Editor's Note:

4. Study: Polar Bear Population 'Not in Crisis'

Climate change doomsayers have for years claimed that declining polar bear populations in the Arctic are a consequence of manmade global warming.

But a new study has found that the bear population in part of Canada is larger than many scientists thought and might actually be growing.

In 2004, Environment Canada researchers concluded that the number of bears along the western shore of Hudson Bay had dropped 22 percent since 1984, to 935 bears, and they estimated that by 2011, a continuing decrease would bring the number down to 610.

The Hudson Bay region is considered a bellwether for how polar bears are faring elsewhere in the Arctic, according to Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail.

The decrease, the scientists asserted, was due to warming temperatures that melt ice faster and ruin the bears' ability to hunt.

"That sparked worldwide concern about the future of the bears and prompted the Canadian and American governments to introduce legislation to protect them," The Globe and Mail reported.

The World Wildlife Fund even stated in 2008: "If current warming trends continue unabated, scientists believe that polar bears will be vulnerable to extinction within the next century."

But a survey released on April 4 by the Government of Nunavut — a federal territory of Canada — shows that the number of bears is now 1,013 and could be higher.

"The bear population is not in crisis as people believed," said Drikus Gissing, Nunavut's director of wildlife management. "There is no doom and gloom."

He added that the media in Canada have led people to believe that polar bears are endangered, but "they are not."

He estimated that there are about 25,000 polar bears in Canada's Arctic region, and "that's likely the highest [number] there has ever been."

Nunavut, which is the size of Western Europe, is home to only about 32,000 people.

Editor's Note:

5. Highest Sales Taxes Are in Alabama

Sales taxes in major American cities range from 10 percent down to zero and can have a significant impact on a locality's economic competitiveness, according to a new Tax Foundation report.

"Evasion of sales tax is most likely to occur in areas where there is a significant difference between two jurisdictions' sales tax rates," the report states.

"Research indicates that consumers can and do leave high-tax areas to make major purchases in low-tax areas, such as from cities to suburbs."

Also, businesses sometimes locate just outside high tax areas to avoid their rates.

"State and local governments should be cautious about raising rates too high relative to their neighbors because doing so may lead to revenue losses despite the higher tax rate," the report adds.

Among U.S. cities with a population over 200,000, residents pay the highest combined state and local tax rate in two Alabama cities, Birmingham and Montgomery. The state imposes a 4 percent tax, and the local rate in both cities is 6 percent, for a total of 10 percent.

They are followed by Chicago, Seattle, and Glendale, Ariz., where the combined rate is 9.5 percent.

Next is Phoenix at 9.3 percent, followed by Memphis and Nashville in Tennessee, at 9.25 percent.

The report notes that in some cases, parts of the city are in different counties and so the total rate may vary within the city.

Also, the items that are taxed can vary greatly. For example, most states exempt groceries from sales taxes, others tax them at a lower rate, and others tax them at the same rate as other items.

At the other end of the rate scale are two cities that are in states with no sales tax and impose no local sales tax: Portland, Ore., and Anchorage, Alaska.

Cities where buyers pay no local sales tax but do pay a state tax include Norfolk and Richmond, Va.; Louisville and Lexington, Ky.; and Newark and Jersey City, N.J., along with Indianapolis, Detroit, Boston, and Baltimore.

The Tax Foundation concludes: "Sales taxes are just one part of an overall tax structure and should be considered in context. For example, Washington State has high sales taxes but no income tax; Oregon has no sales tax, but high income taxes.

"While many factors influence business location and investment decisions, sales taxes are something within policymakers' control that can have immediate impacts. One gauge of competitiveness is how a city's sales tax rate compares to its neighbors."

Editor's Note:

6. Climate Change Alarmist: Let Skeptics' Houses Burn

The war of words between those warning of the dangers of manmade global warming and those who are skeptical of the threat is really getting nasty.

Steve Zwick, who says he writes about "the economic value of nature's services" and is termed a "warmist" by the Climate Depot website, points to one recent poll showing that the majority of Americans see a link between extreme weather and man's actions.

He writes on Forbes magazine's website: "At the same time, however, the denial machine is ratcheting up its disinformation campaign.

"This propaganda has already set us back two decades, during which the costs of dealing with climate change have risen and our chances of curtailing it have diminished.

"Let's take a page from those Tennessee firemen we heard about a few times last year — the ones who stood idly by as houses burned to the ground because their owners had refused to pay a measly $75 fee.

"We can apply this same logic to climate change."

Referring to "active denialists" who "create the lies," Zwick states: "Let's start keeping track of them now, and when the famines come, let's make them pay. Let's let their houses burn. Let's swap their safe land for submerged land. Let's force them to bear the cost of rising food prices.

"They broke the climate. Why should the rest of us have to pay for it?"

In the most recent poll on the issue by Rasmussen Reports, just 40 percent of respondents said that global warming is primarily due to "human activity," while 44 percent attributed it to "long-term planetary trends."

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Editor's Note:

Editor's Notes:

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Sunday, 22 April 2012 09:08 PM
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