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Tags: TSA

Lawmakers’ Headline-Grabbing Food Stamp Diet



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Over in the Washington Post today, they do a flattering article on Montgomery County officials who are spending just $25 on food for the next five days, “an attempt to simulate the everyday fact of life for residents enrolled in the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, once known as food stamps.”

They’re only the latest lawmakers to announce to the world they’ll be doing this; District’s congressional delegate, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Newark Mayor Cory Booker and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper have also done the same, garnering quite a bit of press attention in the process.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the program served over 46 million people in an average month last year, with that amounting to 75 percent of those eligible and 65 percent of those classified “working poor.” The average monthly payment is $133.48.

You can find the income eligibility tables here; for a family of four it’s about $29,976, a level I think that a broad consensus would agree is indeed low-income (presuming recipients are accurately reporting all of their income). (Before you gasp, “and that’s before taxes!” note that about 62 percent of those making $30,000 or less pay no income tax.)

Of course, it’s extremely difficult to feed yourself, much less a family, on $25 for five days. But the title of the program itself makes clear that it’s not meant to be the sole source of your ability to afford food; it is specifically labeled supplemental. As CNN reporter Christine Romans noted, “The government designs it so this is on top of what little money you might have, food pantries, soup kitchens. Some people are getting meals quite frankly in schools and the like, like kids are getting, you know, two meals a day in schools.”

When asked about this, Booker complained that the media spends too much time discussing “the pregnancy of a princess” and not enough time discussing poverty. Fine, but let’s be clear that these politicians aren’t really “simulate the everyday fact of life” for SNAP recipients, they’re simulating a slightly worse situation.

The lawmakers, giving the media detailed lists of their food purchases to let us know just how compassionate they are, are actually attempting to get by by spending less than most recipients, who can afford to spend more than $5 per day. With low incomes, it may not be much more than that, but at least they have the option.

If the argument is that the amount of assistance offered to each individual and household receiving SNAP ought to be increased, then fine, let’s have that argument. Americans are a kind and generous people. But we could do with fewer lawmakers rushing to tell the press just how virtuous they are because they’ve decided to eat very little for five days.

Tags: TSA , SNAP

Bolling Out, Christie Up, Booker Down, Coakley Back In?



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The lesson of today’s Morning Jolt is that campaign news never really stops . . .

Could She Who Scoffed at Red Sox Fans Be Back?

Oh please, oh please . . .

She is the woman who couldn’t beat Scott Brown, but now she’s the Democrats’ best hope to keep the governor’s office in 2014.

Don’t laugh, but that woman is Attorney General Martha Coakley.

Lt. Gov. Tim Murray? Treasurer Steve Grossman? Please. If they’re the best the party can offer, then Republicans might actually have a chance at winning a statewide race again.

Coakley is still scarred from her 2010 Senate defeat, and many Democrats shudder at the thought of her running again. There is a possibility Gov. Deval Patrick could appoint her to U.S. Sen. John F. Kerry’s seat if Kerry gets a Cabinet post, but sources said she’s more interested in succeeding Patrick in the Corner Office.

“That’s what she’s definitely looking at,” one veteran Democratic strategist said.

Now the irony is that I’ve heard Scott Brown is also more interested in being governor of Massachusetts than running for Senate again.

Brown vs. Coakley: The Rematch!

Judging a Booker Poll by Its Cover

It’s early, but . . . maybe the 2009 gubernatorial races aren’t going to be so exciting. In Virginia, we’ll see Ken Cuccinelli as the GOP nominee, since Bill Bolling has suddenly dropped his bid. At this point, it looks like Cuccinelli will be taking on the jovial soul Terry McAuliffe, a former DNC chair who flamed out in a 2009 bid. McAuliffe would be a very, very “northern Virginia” candidate, which may or may not be enough in an off-year election.

Then there’s New Jersey, where everyone thought there was a chance of a clash of the titans, incumbent Republican Chris Christie against Democrat Cory Booker, mayor of Newark. Eh, maybe not so much:

Newark Mayor Cory Booker remains the wild card, with political observers believing he is the Democrat with the best chance of ousting Christie. He didn’t respond to an interview request and his Twitter account was silent on political matters.

Booker fares best among Democrats against Christie in head-to-head tests in a new Rutgers-Eagleton Poll but still would get thumped by Christie, 53 percent to 34 percent, if the election took place now.

The poll also shows 59 percent of New Jersey voters support a second term for Christie, with 32 percent opposing. Support for Christie’s re-election has risen dramatically since before Sandy, said David Red­lawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and a professor of political science at Rutgers.

The sequence could scare off Booker, Red­lawsk said. “Any Democrat, even Booker, has to take these numbers seriously. At the same time Booker remains the Democrat who would seem to have the best chance in the early running.”

Liz Marlantes of the Christian Science Monitor looks at some recent examples of governors who had their popularity changed by hurricanes:

. . . the goodwill Christie amassed in the weeks immediately following the storm shouldn’t be underestimated, either. A perhaps more relevant comparison is former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush — who, interestingly, seems to be pondering a 2016 run himself. Bush was widely praised by Democrats and Republicans alike for his handling of a series of hurricanes that battered the Sunshine State in 2004 and 2005. The St. Petersburg Times dubbed him “The Hurricane Governor” in a laudatory profile that quoted Democratic strategists who’d worked for his opponent as saying he’d been “a superb leader.” Two years later, Bush left office with a nearly 60 percent approval rating.

On the other hand, it’s worth noting that Bush’s predecessor, former Florida governor Lawton Chiles, was roundly criticized in the wake of 1992’s Hurricane Andrew — with his approval rating in the state going all the way down to a dismal 22 percent. Two years later he won reelection, anyway.

In what is undoubtedly the same kind of buzz that got President Jon Huntsman where he is today, the New Yorker is suddenly writing gushing profiles that talk about Christie’s presidential potential:

As a launching pad for Christie’s 2013 reëlection campaign, all of this could hardly be better, and it also provides him with a ready route to 2016. If he wins next year, which seems likely, he can continue the process of rebuilding the areas battered by Sandy and push through more reforms, while quietly constructing the political operation and campaign chest he needed for a run in 2016. Here, too, being from Jersey is an advantage. The national media and the moneymen are just across the river. (Having been unsuccessfully prevailed upon to run in 2012 by a group of super-rich Republicans, including Rupert Murdoch and Wilbur Ross, Christie shouldn’t have much trouble raising cash.)

Ahem. That was before he was seen as the guy who spent the final weeks before Election Day doing more to restore Obama’s brand as a bipartisan healer more than anyone else this side of Richard Lugar. Some of those GOP moneymen are going to be a little grumpy if Christie calls in the near future, I suspect. They continue:

Small wonder, then, that Christie is widely regarded as one of the front-runners for the G.O.P. nomination in 2016. But before he can be seen as a wholly viable candidate, he still has some issues to resolve, including his record as U.S. Attorney, his political identity inside the Republican Party, and his health.

That last item is a legitimate concern, although clearly Christie has managed to be an effective governor with his weight issues. Perhaps the biggest indicator of his ambitions after 2013 will be his waistline.

Tags: SCOTUS , Chris Christie , TSA , Ken Cuccinelli , Martha Coakley , Terry McAuliffe

President Obama, the Favorite Candidate of TSA Employees



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During your summer travels, you may find yourself being stripped, touched, prodded, or poked, or see TSA employees looking at advanced-technology images of your naked body.

If you find yourself wondering, “Do TSA employees have a preferred candidate in this year’s presidential election?” the answer appears to be yes.

Through June 30, political donors who listed their employer as “Transportation Security Administration” or “TSA” donated $4,379 to President Obama’s reelection campaign, and only $498 to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign.

So the next time you find yourself taking off your sneakers, being told to stand in this line, not that one, and generally treated like cattle, you can think, “Hmm. A nine-to-one ratio.”

Tags: Barack Obama , Mitt Romney , TSA

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