The local nonprofit WBC Opportunities – headquartered in Round Rock – is being forced to cut nearly $400,000 from its senior Meals on Wheels and Head Start programs due to federal spending cuts spurred by sequestration.
Scott Ferguson, WBCO director of development, said the nonprofit will have to adjust its $14.2 million overall annual budget to reflect the cuts. The agency serves Williamson and Burnet counties. In addition to Meals on Wheels and Head Start, it also offers emergency assistance to clients and is involved with affordable housing programs.
“As we were developing the budget, some of our federal funders were already saying, ‘we are going to have less funding than expected and you need to shorten your budgets,’” Ferguson said, “because this was coming down the pipeline.”
The cuts have led WBCO to lay off two part-time workers, reduce hours for two others and pursue additional ways to reduce its budget.
Ferguson said through the program, WBCO served about 161,000 meals to 1,400 senior citizens in 2012.
The Head Start program provides education to children 5-years-old and younger, to help them become successful school students. A WBCO facility on Bagdad Road in Leander houses the Head Start and Senior Activity Centers programs.
Ferguson said the cuts have created a waiting list for Meals on Wheels – a first for the nonprofit. But he added that current services for seniors and children will not be changed.
“No, we’re not closing any of the programs, but we won’t be able to meet the need fully of everyone that requested and qualifies for it,” he said.
Ferguson said the best way for helping WBCO is donations.
“We can use the donations to buy food and milk for our seniors so that they can continue to age with dignity and have a healthy nutritious meal each day,” he said.
Needed items for Head Start are diapers, unscented baby wipes, construction paper, manila paper, copy paper, crayons and new age-appropriate puzzles for children age 5 and younger.
Tackling issue ranging from fiscal responsibility to party unity, District 31 U.S. Rep. John Carter addressed a group of about 100 people Monday, during the Williamson County Republican Women’s monthly luncheon.
Carter spoke about the ongoing budget sequestration battles, as well as his clashes with prominent Obama administration members such as U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano.
But the former Williamson County district court judge – while known for being fiercely partisan – advised the GOP faithful they’re wasting time if they focus their efforts on trying to impeach the president.
The Round Rock Republican said he frequently gets asked about impeachment – and said it’s a hot topic among GOP bloggers – but emphasized it is not a realistic legal option.
Carter said he thinks Obama is wrong on many issues, but that doesn’t equate to treason or the other impeachment standard outlined in the U.S. Constitution – the commission of “high crimes and misdemeanors.”
“Is he doing a lot of stuff I don’t like?” Carter said at the Williamson Conference Center gathering. “You’re damn right he’s doing a lot of things I don’t like. But if ever there was a theme that we as Republicans ought to hold to, it’s the rule of law that holds people together.”
Carter downplayed the negative effects of ongoing sequestration – the automatic spending cuts that took effect March 1, when Republicans and Democrats in Washington, D.C. could not reach agreement on taxing and spending issues.
“The sky is not going to fall,” Carter said, noting the mandatory cuts will affect U.S. armed forces, but military leaders are prepared to deal with them.
Yet Carter said he is no fan of sequestration, stating: “Sequestration is the stupid man’s way to cut the budget. What’s wrong with sequestration is every program gets cut equally.”
That’s right if you’re elderly the sky’s not falling, but your food may not be coming either. That is definitely stupid and cruel as well. And we all know what a waste early childhood education is.
These are learned skills which allow children to practice self control, pay attention, control their emotions, wait their turn, follow directions and listen to teachers. These are school-readiness skills that Grunewald and other child development experts say research shows remain with children into adulthood.
These are skills essential to life success, they argue.
Ask Grunewald to demonstrate his claims and he points to re-assessment or ongoing analysis of well-known early childhood education efforts — the Perry Preschool Project in Michigan, Chicago Child-Parent Centers and the Elmira Prenatal/Early Infancy Project — by respected academics, among them James Heckman of the University of Chicago and Arthur Reynolds, now at the University of Minnesota.
Their research “substantiated the long-term effects with high rates of returns,’’ Grunewald said.
By that he means the early scholars graduate from high school and college in greater numbers than those who didn’t have early childhood education. They are less likely to have problems with the law as juveniles. As adults, they are more likely to be employed and paying taxes, healthier, homeowners and financially solvent..
As for dollars-spent benefits?
For every $1 spent on early childhood programming, the return is from $4 to $16, Grunewald says, depending on the program.
Cutting programs indiscriminately is stupid, but compromising on a solution that cuts in a sane manner is even dumber we’re supposed to believe. That Carter has to first tell the crowd that impeachment is not realistic goes to show just how far out many of Carter’s most vociferous supports are.
Whether or not the “sky is falling” or not has everything to do with where one is on the economic scale. For Carter and his supporters, things may be alright. But if you’re in need of help from the government the sky is definitely closing in.
The one thing about the Affordable Care Act (ACA), aka Obamacare, is if the law is as bad as the regressives make it out to be, then why to they and theirshills in the media have to keep making stuff up and lying about it? It’s because the law is proving the GOP lies about it false. And the more people begin to understand it – free well checks, near universal coverage, no more “pre-existing” conditions, and coverage for children until 26 – the more they realized it includes very good things, and they’re warming to it.
Saying he’s committed to repealing Obamacare, U.S. Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock, told constituents: “You may not be aware of one of the most frightening provisions in the president’s healthcare plan — the creation of the Independent Payment Advisory Board.”
Carter’s July 31, 2012, letter continues: “This board, comprised of 15 unelected, unaccountable people hand-picked by the president, will have the ability to come between you and your doctor in determining the best treatment options for you!”
After readers asked us to look into Carter’s claim about the board’s intrusive powers, we emailed Carter’s office for backup information — and didn’t hear back.
With Carter’s wording in mind, we read the relevant portion of the law.
Section 3403 indeed states that the board is to include 15 members appointed by the president. Each appointee also would face Senate confirmation.
As far as we can tell, the law does not give the board the power, or permission, to regulate any individual’s treatment options.
For an August 2011 Truth-O-Meter article, PolitiFact Georgia asked four health experts about a congressman’s claim that “a bunch of bureaucrats” would “decide whether you get care.” All four said that’s incorrect.
A scholar at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank usually at odds with Democratic positions, said the assertion that the board would be controlling patients’ health-care decisions is “not even close to correct.” Cato scholar Michael Tanne said the board “has nothing to do with individual care at all. It’s not making decisions on individuals.”
Carter’s claim has no factual foundation. We rate it False.
Good afternoon, everybody. This morning, Secretary Napolitano announced new actions my administration will take to mend our nation’s immigration policy, to make it more fair, more efficient, and more just — specifically for certain young people sometimes called “Dreamers.”
These are young people who study in our schools, they play in our neighborhoods, they’re friends with our kids, they pledge allegiance to our flag. They are Americans in their heart, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper. They were brought to this country by their parents — sometimes even as infants — and often have no idea that they’re undocumented until they apply for a job or a driver’s license, or a college scholarship.
Put yourself in their shoes. Imagine you’ve done everything right your entire life — studied hard, worked hard, maybe even graduated at the top of your class — only to suddenly face the threat of deportation to a country that you know nothing about, with a language that you may not even speak.
That’s what gave rise to the DREAM Act. It says that if your parents brought you here as a child, if you’ve been here for five years, and you’re willing to go to college or serve in our military, you can one day earn your citizenship. And I have said time and time and time again to Congress that, send me the DREAM Act, put it on my desk, and I will sign it right away.
Now, both parties wrote this legislation. And a year and a half ago, Democrats passed the DREAM Act in the House, but Republicans walked away from it. It got 55 votes in the Senate, but Republicans blocked it. The bill hasn’t really changed. The need hasn’t changed. It’s still the right thing to do. The only thing that has changed, apparently, was the politics.
This humane policy makes sense. And hopefully President Obama will start doing this in other areas. Especially in economic policy where the American people need it most.
President Barak Obama’s plan to unilaterally grant amnesty to an estimated 800,000 illegal immigrants is in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s separation of powers and is not legally valid, according to House Republican Conference Secretary John Carter (TX31).
Of course it’s the obstructionism of GOP members like Carter that has forced Obama’s hand. And Carter is unlikely to ever want to pass a law that punishes employers. That was the main focus of the Texas GOP’s platform change on immigration.
As expected, and what the White House hoped for, there was euphoric reaction to the news from the young people the new policy impacts to their supporters and sympathizers. There has also been cynicism from some in the Latino community, who remembered the same kind of wide-spread celebration when it was announced last year that a policy of prosecutorial discretion would be implemented in deportation cases by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, that lead to disappointment with ICE Director John Morton admitting earlier this year to the House Subcommittee on Homeland Security that only 1% of pending deportation cases had been tabled under the new guidelines.
Some in the Latino community fear that the same will happen this time. I doubt it.
There’s too much at stake, namely the Latino vote.
At this stage of the game, no one is naive enough to think there wasn’t political motivation behind this action. Clearly, the Obama campaign was feeling the heat from Latino voters on two distinct fronts — the sit-ins at his state campaign headquarters by DREAMer students demanding that Obama do something to stop the deportations of undocumented youth and the growing indifference among Latino voters about this election.
Knowing the importance we place on our children and families and that the DREAM Act is an issue that the majority of Americans support, Obama and his campaign made a smart strategic move.
In fact, the new policy resembles an alternative plan proposed by GOP Sen. Marco Rubio in that it doesn’t grant a path to citizenship for these students nor provides for amnesty.
Of course, it wasn’t long before some GOP members issued critical statements about the new policy and the President and some have even threatened a lawsuit against Obama.
Yet this move by the President, without a doubt, stirred a majority of the Latino electorate into start thinking about the election. If this deferment is enacted — immediately, as the President said in his remarks — and the greater community sees that young people are not being deported and are, in fact, being granted work permits, then it’s a safe bet that a portion of the Latino community will show their appreciation with their votes in November.
This report from Legistorm, on the record amounts private interests spent last year on trips for members of Congress and their staffs in 2011, is a microcosm of what’s wrong with Congress and our government(s). This is one area of Congress, it seems, where there is broad bipartisan agreement.
Private interests spent a record amount to send members of Congress and their staff on trips on 2011, and the individual trips were longer and costlier than ever before.
There were 1,600 privately funded congressional trips in 2011, worth a total of more than $5.8 million, the largest amount since ethics reforms were enacted in 2007 in the wake of the Jack Abramoff scandal. The total amount is the highest since 2005, when a record 4,917 trips were taken totaling $9.9 million. The record for money spent came in 2004, when 4,780 trips cost nearly $10.4 million.
And Congressman John Carter (R-Round Rock) is stands out in the report.
The most expensive trip in 2011 was sponsored by the International Conservation Caucus Foundation, which paid $30,708 to send Rep. John Carter (R-Texas) and his wife to South Africa and Botswana for meetings on conservation and natural resource management.
Jock Friedly, president of Legistorm, the public interest group that compiled the report, says that all told, those trips cost $5.8 million last year. “When these private interests are taking members of Congress and their staff on these trips, they are definitely showing only one side of the story.”
Friedly says it violates the spirit of reforms made in 2007, after Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff got caught bribing officials with lavish trips. Now, lobbyists are banned from paying for extended travel. But groups that don’t lobby can still fund trips.
“Whether that’s overseas in Afghanistan, or if that’s overseas seeing some new technology that’s going to help us, they should be involved in it,” said Jim Clarke, senior vice president of public policy at the Center for Association Leadership. Clarke represents many groups that pay for congressional travel.
The Aspen Institute – which sponsored the Puerto Rico forum, and has spent half a million dollars on congressional trips to Vienna, Canada, and Barcelona – told CBS News it educates members of Congress, helps build relationships and civil discourse, and accepts no corporate or special interest funding. But unlike the Aspen Institute, foundations and other groups that do have corporate and lobbyist ties are paying for some trips.
“Lobbyists founded the foundation. They sit on the board of the foundation. But because the foundation itself does not lobby,” Friedly said, “it’s allowed.”
Is that a distinction without a difference?
“It could be to some people, yes.” Friedly said
As an example, Friedly points to the group that broke the all-time record for spending in a single year: The American Israel Education Foundation, which paid $2 million for 145 trips to Israel. They don’t lobby, but they share offices, a phone number and public relations person with a giant lobby called The American Israel Public Affairs Committee. When CBS News asked them about all those trips, the foundation said no government money funds the congressional trips, and diverse views are presents.
When confronted with the fact that groups that lobby and corporations are setting up foundations that in turn pay for congressional travel — a situation critics say skirts the intent of the rules — Clarke said, “I’m not going to defend that practice.”
“I would say that’s up to, it seems like it is what the law allows. If that’s not what Congress’ intent is they should review their processes.”
And that’s the thing, it’s perfectly legal. Here’s the video of the CBS report on this today.
It’s an enthralling discussion. And they fully realize that this isn’t about Republican and Democrat, as both parties are knee-deep in this corruption. And there are no easy answers to this. (For a darker take on the future read this). But we must have a fundamental change in the power structure in our country.
The whole trip — including game-reserve visits, biodiversity tours and expert briefings — was paid for by a nonprofit group called the International Conservation Caucus Foundation, which is closely linked to four lobbying organizations and a roster of corporate interests.
The caucus grew to become the second-largest in Congress and now counts about a third of the House and a fourth of the Senate among its members.
The four founding organizations stayed on as the “Advisory Council” to the ICCF, which hosts Congressional briefings, an annual gala and a yearly oyster roast “prepared by legendary South Carolina game wardens” that was attended by more than 40 Members of Congress, according to the group’s website. Its “Conservation Council” includes corporate heavyweights such as Volkswagen, Walmart, Unilever, Exxon Mobil Corp. and the American Petroleum Institute.[Emphasis added]
“Our partners play an essential role in supporting true American values in conservation by providing technical expertise, policy innovations, financial resources, information technology and general leadership and encouragement to conservation programs in other countries,” according to the foundation’s website.
A representative from Crenshaw’s office said the trip was a valuable opportunity for the Appropriations Committee member to learn about how foreign assistance is being used overseas.
“This House-Ethics-Committee-approved trip, taken at no expense to the taxpayer, provided that opportunity for programs in the regions of Botswana and South Africa. Participants gained knowledge of economic and political conditions, the education and health situation, natural resource management plans and conservation solutions that can be utilized in future decision making on Capitol Hill,” said Crenshaw’s communications director, Barbara Riley, in an email.
The offices of Carter, Chandler and Gingrey did not respond to requests for comment.[Emphasis added]
Ethics experts involved in the 2007 reform effort say trips paid for by nonprofits that maintain close links to lobbying entities were not what they had in mind when the revised rules were drafted. The proliferation of such trips has contributed to a rise in the amount spent on privately financed Congressional travel. As Roll Call has previously reported, the $1.5 million spent sending lawmakers and their family members abroad in August shattered previous monthly records, in large part due to trips paid for by the ICCF and a charitable arm of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee known as the American Israel Education Foundation.
“This is something that is very troubling when it comes to our travel restrictions,” Holman said. “Once you start carving out any exceptions [for nonprofits], these lobbying entities will push the envelope as hard as they can.”
Must be nice. Congressman John Carter (R-Round Rock) holds a considerable amount of stock in one of the conservation council members, Exxon Mobil Corp. As Lawrence Lessig says, “money erodes trust”.
The clue that something is very wrong is the endless list of troubles that sit on our collective plate but that never get resolved: bloated and inefficient bureaucracies; an invisible climate policy; a tax code that would embarrass Dickens; health care policies that have little to do with health; regulations designed to protect inefficiency; environmental policies that exempt the producers of the greatest environmental harms; food that is too expensive (since protected); food that is unsafe (since unregulated); a financial system that has already caused great harm, has been left unreformed, and is primed and certain to cause great harm again.
The problems are many. Too many. Our eyes get fixed upon one among them, and our passions get devoted to fixing that one. In that focus, however, we fail to see the thread that ties them all together.
We are, to steal from Thoreau, the “thousand[s] hacking at the branches of evil,” with “[n]one striking at the root.”
This book names that root. It aims to inspire “rootstrikers.” The root—?not the single cause of everything that ails us, not the one reform that would make democracy hum, but instead, the root, the thing that feeds the other ills, and the thing that we must kill first. The cure that would be generative—?the single, if impossibly difficult, intervention that would give us the chance to repair the rest.
This corruption has two elements, each of which feeds the other. The first element is bad governance, which means simply that our government doesn’t track the expressed will of the people, whether on the Left or on the Right. Instead, the government tracks a different interest, one not directly affected by votes or voters. Democracy, on this account, seems a show or a ruse; power rests elsewhere.
The second element is lost trust: when democracy seems a charade, we lose faith in its process. That doesn’t matter to some of us—?we will vote and participate regardless. But to more rational souls, the charade is a signal: spend your time elsewhere, because this game is not for real. Participation thus declines, especially among the sensible middle. Policy gets driven by the extremists at both ends.
What happened with this junket is not illegal. But it is another thing that’s making it more difficult to fix what’s wrong.
The reason job creation is not where it needs to be is because we’ve started moving to austerity, in our nation and state, which is filtering down to the local levels as well. Austerity is defined as: In economics, austerity is a policy of deficit-cutting, lower spending, and a reduction in the amount of benefits and public services provided. As history shows austerity will only make our economy worse, but we can also look at history for a way out of this mess. The best way to show this is from a post from 2010 by Robert Reich, My Father and Alan Greenspan.
When I was a small boy at the start of the 1950s, my father gave me my first economics lesson. “Bobby,” he said with obvious concern, “you and your children and your children’s children will be repaying the national debt created by Franklin D. Roosevelt.”
I didn’t know what a national debt was, but I remember being scared out of my wits.
Dad was wrong, of course. Even though the national debt then was a much higher percentage of the national economy than it is today, it shrank as the economy boomed. My children have never mentioned FDR’s debt. My granddaughter (almost 2) will never pay a penny of it.
Dad, now 96 and still in good health, recognizes how wrong he was then. He admits FDR’s deficit spending not only won World War II but it also got America out of the Great Depression.
For whatever reason it is very hard for too many politicians and the traditional media to understand, and they’re unable help the rest of the nation and world understand. That’s why Rep. John Carter’s (R- Round Rock) sorry Op-Ed about too much regulation should be laughed at and used for toilet paper. Carter wants us to believe that government regulation is the reason business and corporations aren’t hiring. But he’s wrong.
The reason businesses and corporations aren’t hiring is because of austerity, job and benefit cuts, and increasing income inequality. As a result we have a demand problem. Americans don’t have money to buy things, which means businesses and corporations won’t hire more people to make more stuff. That’s why as federal, state and local government employees get laid off, as well as teachers, firefighters, etc.., the economy will only get worse. A good job taken away, and replaced (maybe) by a job that pays less and has no benefits, leaves that worker and their family with less money to buy stuff. And the downward spiral continues. Instead of what happened to get us out of the Great Depression.
Carter, who has represented Texas’ 31st Congressional District since 2002, offered an overview of the country’s fiscal year 2010 spending.
With the help of a PowerPoint pie chart, he told the crowd that defense and non-defense discretionary spending represent the two areas politicians are realistically able to cut at the present time.
Other segments of the economy, including Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, were labeled by Carter’s chart as “autopilot spending.” The congressman said these areas, totalling nearly $1.5 trillion combined, must be addressed.
As one example, Carter said he could potentially support raising to 70 the age for receiving full Social Security benefits. “We don’t have to necessarily take any people’s benefits away to start fixing Social Security, but we have to restructure it,” Carter said. “If we just keep kicking the can down the road, we are going to become Greece and there will be no one to bail us out.”
Of course, raising the retirement age to 70 is cutting people’s benefits, and Carter doesn’t seem to understand that. Those are years longer that Americans will have to go before being able to receive their Social Security benefits. Not only is it cruel and wrong but it hurts the economy.
To keep Social Security strong for another 75 years, Sanders’ legislation would apply the same payroll tax already paid by more than nine out of 10 Americans to those with incomes over $250,000 a year. [...] Under Sanders’ legislation, Social Security benefits would be untouched. The system would be fully funded by making the wealthiest Americans pay the same payroll tax already assessed on those with incomes up to $106,800 a year.
Shame on Rep. Carter for not knowing the facts about Social Security, but that’s what Republicans do. They’ve been against Social Security since it was created. But as with most of our country’s economic issues, Social Security can also be fixed if the wealthy and corporations would just start paying their fair share of taxes again.