As Jobs Vanish and Prices Rise, Food Stamp Use Nears Record

Published: March 31, 2008
Driven by a painful mix of layoffs and rising food and fuel prices, the number of Americans receiving food stamps is projected to reach 28 million in the coming year, the highest level since the aid program began in the 1960s.

The number of recipients, who must have near-poverty incomes to qualify for benefits averaging $100 a month per family member, has fluctuated over the years along with economic conditions, eligibility rules, enlistment drives and natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina, which led to a spike in the South.Read entire article


Assignment for March 31, 2008

Finish Reading Chapter 9 “Welfare & Social Security Policy”. Read Chapter 10 “Education Policy” of the required text (Kraft & Furlong). Pick up 3rd, short written assignment due April 14, 2008. Don’t forget: Research Papers are due May 5th, 2008.

Medicare and Social Security: No Change, No Good News, No Outrage

From Facing Up Blog:


The good news from the Social Security and Medicare trustees is

that things haven’t gotten any worse. The bad news is that the

situation was bad anyway.


The projections stayed the same: the Medicare trust fund will run

dry in 2019, and Social Security’s fund will run out in 2041.

There are several good news stories on this today, from the

Associated Press, the New York Times, and the Washington Post’s

Dana Milbank, who calls the annual report “a rite of spring” that

everyone in Washington feels they can ignore.


But it’s going to get much more difficult to ignore this problem.

The most frightening part of the report is that Medicare will

have to start digging into its trust fund this year, probably

to the tune of $8 billion. (Social Security won’t have to draw

on its trust fund until 2017). That’s not much, in terms of a

$3 trillion federal budget. And after all, that’s what the

trust funds are for. But it’s the start of a process that’s

going to put huge pressure on the federal government in the

next few years.


The problem is that the government has long been borrowing from

these funds to pay its other expenses, and giving them Treasury

bonds in return (specifically, “intergovernmental bonds” used

when the government owes money to itself). There’s nothing secret

or illegal about that, and there’s nothing wrong with the bonds.

But now Medicare is going to have to start redeeming these bonds,

which means the government is going to have to start paying back

the trust funds. And where’s that money going to come from?

From general revenue; essentially, the rest of the federal budget.

Again, $8 billion isn’t huge in terms of the budget, but eventually

this is going to mean taking money from other programs or raising

revenue to cover it.


You’re going to start to hear the beams creaking on the federal budget

over the next few years as it starts to bear that additional weight.

And something’s going to have to give, whether anyone in Washington

is willing to face it yet or not.


Read the full entry with links at

“Grapes of Wrath” -Public Policy Issues

For those who missed the showing of the 1940 movie based on Steinbeck’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, here is a plot summary and character list.You may also find the Wikipedia summary useful.Finally, take a look at the reality which inspired Steinbeck’s Weed Patch Camp.

Immigration Reduces Crime

Contrary to popular stereotypes, areas undergoing immigration are associated with lower violence, not spiraling crime, according to a new study. Read entire article.

Assignment for March 24, 2008

Read Chapter 9, “Welfare and Social Security” of the required text (Kraft & Furlong).

Assignment for March 10, 2008

Read Chapter Six, “Assessing Policy Alternatives” of the required text (Kraft & Furlong).Pick up 2d short, written assignment-research at class for return on March 17th, 2008.