Sunday, October 26, 2008

Refuting McClatchy's Story On How Bush Helped End Homelessness

In today's issue of McClatchy News Online, where their motto of 'Truth To Power' appears just below their tag line, is a story entitled 'Bush administration has housed many homeless'. After reading the title and laughing out loud, I assumed that the article would be one that actually condemned the Bush policies of the past eight years of slashing the budgets for the poor and the homeless with every swipe of his line item pen.

But lo and behold, in a blatant attempt by the right wing news service to make it appear as though Bush has been some sort of liberally idealed President this past decade of hardship, the article claims that this monster in the Oval Office has been the one with the best idea for ending homelessness in America. Written in reference to one minor program called Housing First, the article gives Bush the credit for implementing the plan, which is a blatant lie. The program was started in Toronto, Canada by a coalition called The National Alliance To End Homelessness.

It was this entity that brainstormed the program and received help from the Canadian government to implement it. So wildly successful that it was picked up by cities around the United States, all Bush did was to allow for the diverting of funds for some programs that help the poor and deliver it to Housing First. Housing First now operates nation wide, doing the best they can with an ever growing homeless population.

But to hear McClatchy News tell the story, one would think that, holy crap, homelessness has been ended in our country. Using gibberish figures, they claim that the homeless numbers have fallen from 176,000 to under 124,000 under Bush's watch. They claim this number by saying it's culled from the best available data, which is another blatant lie. Try almost 4 MILLION homeless people in America Mr. Hearst Corporation, and you'll be getting a lot closer to the truth. And that number represents an increase of 30% during the Bush years, not any decrease.

Further on into the article, McClatchy News once again spouts off figures in an attempt to show how generous Bush has been towards the poor and the homeless. Telling how the authorization for Medicaid allotments have risen by almost double what they were when Bush took office, the article tries to give the impression that more and more people who need help are getting it, but that's another blatant lie. The real reason that costs for programs such as Medicaid and Food Stamps have risen so drastically under the Bush Administration was because the Republicans outright privatized the programs while the entire nation was asleep after 9/11.

Oh yes. That's right. Where Medicaid used to be a program wherein the recipient would receive a card, go to their doctor, and the doctor would bill Medicaid, you know, a direct to the provider service, now, recipients are forced to choose an insurance company HMO that runs the Medicaid program in a given area. The HMO charges the government exorbitant fees for their services as a middle man, and the government, in order to lessen the impact of those fees, gives bonuses to the HMO's for money saved. So the HMO then places higher and higher 'deductibles' on office visits, prescriptions, tests, everything, on the recipient in order to discourage them from going to the doctor at all. So while many in the country decry the 'free' medical care being received by the poor, they have absolutely no clue that the poor aren't actually getting the care they need, but the insurance companies are fattening their bank accounts at taxpayer expense. Good job there Bushie. You paid back your fat cat friends well with that ripoff scheme.

They did the same thing with Food Stamps. JPMorgan now runs the Food Stamp program. Oh? You didn't know that? Food Stamps are not even food stamps any more. What they are now is what's called an Electronic Benefit Transfer card, or EBT. It used to be that when a recipient went to the store and bought food, the store would receive an extra seven cents on the dollar for accepting the food stamps. There was the hassle of collecting all those stamps, correctly tabulating them, sending them in for redemption, and waiting thirty days for a check. But with the EBT card, all that hassle was supposed to disappear, but the stores would still get that little extra for accepting the food benefit transfer. That is until Bush gave the program to the banks who demanded a 25 cent per dollar return on top of the store's 7 cents. And so, in order to cut costs, the amount of benefits available to recipients was cut. The fat cats get paid off once again, the poor get the shaft. On 15 separate occasions, the Republicans have refused and filibustered any vote to raise the allotment for the poor. The most recent example was the bailout for Wall Street package. Pork of all kinds was tied to that bill, but yet the Republicans threatened to scuttle the entire thing if the Democrats didn't remove a ten dollar a month increase in Food Stamp benefits for the poor.

In trying to make Bush seem the hero and not the villain, McClatchy ignores the slashing of billions of dollars for Section 8 vouchers by Bush. The number of available yearly vouchers nationwide for the poor to fight over is now all the way down to 30,000. That's a decrease from 250,000 and is said by no less than 6 national organizations for the homeless to be a contributing factor in the rise of the numbers of veterans on the street. They also leave out the fact that Bush refused to fund the Bring America Home Act, which would have provided municipalities with funding for more shelters, funding for more soup kitchens, funding for medical facilities for the poor, and would have stopped cities from making homelessness a crime.

Incredibly, in this toilet paper excuse for a 'news' story, McClatchy attempts to shift the burden for America's homeless problem on the Democrats. Claiming that every time the organizations that serve the poor come knocking with their hand out, it's the Republican Party that steps up and that the Democrats will begrudgingly give a little during the snowy months, McClatchy again tries to make it appear as though the Bush years have been a boon to the poor of America. The only item missing from this fraudulent excuse for journalism was a picture of Bush in long flowing hair, white linens, and a halo circling his godlike head.

No. Nice try McClatchy. We all know that your organization has always been a front for the Republican Party, but this is just too much. I doubt that even Fox Noise would throw this garbage and vomit into people's faces and expect them to eat it. The truth is that since Republicans have controlled Congress during the Clinton years, they have forced through cut after cut after cut for the most vulnerable, not out of some sense of civic responsibility, but because of an evil desire to reroute those dollars to their corporate friends. When Bush stole the election, well, God Damn, the party was really on then as we have all been witness to. Just one month's worth of money that is being shoveled into the bottomless pit that is the Iraq War would end homelessness forever in America.

Take a look at a couple of facts, then go figure out if McClatchy is full of shoot.

Fact one: Compared to 1978, the U.S. government is now spending nearly 65 percent less on developing and maintaining affordable housing for poor people. ($83 billion was appropriated in 1978, while only $29 billion was allocated in 2005.)

Fact two: Compared to 1978, the U.S. government now spends $84 billion more on subsidies for home ownership programs. (It spent $38 billion in 1978 on these subsidies for middle-class and affluent homeowners versus $122 billion in 2005.)

Fact three: In 2004, 61 percent of all federal housing subsidies went to households earning over $54,787 per year, while only 20 percent of those subsidies went to households earning less than $18,465 annually. The 2004 federal poverty threshold for a household of four with two minor children was $19,157.

The fact is, the Bush Administration has been worse than Reagan when it comes to cuts made to programs designed to help the poor, the homeless, and especially the homeless veterans. Anything else being said to try to save the legacy of an evil monster is propaganda, pure and simple.

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