Saturday, October 29, 2005

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back
While We Were Out

Seems that there have been some other items of news going on in Washington DC that don't have anything to do with PlameGate. Here's some good news; via the WaPo:
The Bush administration will reinstate rules requiring that companies awarded federal contracts for Hurricane Katrina pay prevailing wages, usually an amount close to the pay scales in local union contracts.

The White House promised to restore the 74-year-old Davis-Bacon prevailing wage protection on Nov. 8, following a meeting between chief of staff Andrew Card and a caucus of pro-labor Republicans.
The administration contended the Davis-Bacon suspension would reduce rebuilding costs and thus benefit local residents by stretching financial resources, but unions and other critics said it would result in lower pay for workers. Unlike the three previous suspensions of Davis-Bacon since 1931, Bush left the suspension open-ended.

Democrats, like Rep. George Miller of California, the ranking member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, said that was an attempt by conservative Republicans to wipe out Davis-Bacon altogether. Miller said Democrats' legislative proposals combined with the Republican group to force the Bush administration's hand.

The Bush administration demurred. "It was always intended for it to be temporary," said Trent Duffy, a White House spokesman.

Whatever. But here's the bad; via Reuters/Yahoo:

On a party-line vote, a Republican-run U.S. House of Representatives committee voted to cut food stamps by $844 million on Friday, just hours after a new government report showed more Americans are struggling to put food on the table.

About 300,000 Americans would lose benefits due to tighter eligibility rules for food stamps, the major U.S. antihunger program, under the House plan. The cuts would be part of $3.7 billion pared from Agriculture Department programs over five years as part of government-wide spending reductions.
A new Agriculture Department report found 38.2 million Americans "were food insecure" in 2004, an increase of nearly 2 million from the previous year. Tufts University food economist Parke Wilde food insecurity "now equals the worst levels" since recordkeeping began a decade ago.

USDA said 11.9 percent of households, "at some time during the year, had difficulty providing enough food for all their members due to a lack of resources."

Food stamps help poor Americans buy food. About 25 million people get food stamps monthly.

The USDA had an overall budget of about $85 billion in fiscal 2005. Food stamps and other nutrition programs for the poor accounted for about $51 billion, with the remainder going to crop subsidies for farmers, food aid to foreign countries, farmland conservation, meat plant inspections and other farm-related programs.


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