fresh voices from the front lines of change







I haven't heard much concern about the cost of this Syrian operation which is kind of surprising since the last four years has been a non-stop barrage of rhetoric about the need to cut government spending, from members of both parties. We've had epic unemployment (much of it driven by government cutbacks), proposals from a democratic president to cut social security benefits, credit downgrades, and a brutal sequestration process that is resulting in painful cuts all over the country. But the only person I've seen even question the cost of a new military operation is Congressman Alan Grayson. Note the cavalier way Secretary Hagel dismisses the concern:

Grayson: "Secretary Hagel, will the military action in Syria, if it does take place, require a supplemental appropriation and, if you think not, then will you commit to that not?"

Hagel: Well, it depends on the option that the president would select. I have said that we will work with the Congress on whatever the cost of that is."

I'm going to guess that it won't be a problem getting supplemental money for this should it be necessary.


On Wednesday, the Department of Agriculture released a 2012 survey showing that nearly 49 million Americans were living in “food insecure” households — meaning, in the bureaucratic language of the agency, that some family members lacked “consistent access throughout the year to adequate food.” In short, many Americans went hungry. The agency found the figures essentially unchanged since the economic downturn began in 2008, but substantially higher than during the previous decade.


About half the births in the United States are paid for by Medicaid — a figure higher than previous estimates – and the numbers could increase as the state-federal health insurance program expands under the Affordable Care Act, according to a study released Tuesday.

All pregnant women with incomes below 133 percent of the federal poverty level, just below $15,300 for an individual, are eligible for Medicaid, and many states provide coverage to women earning well above that amount.

While previous research has estimated about 40 percent of the nearly 4 million annual births in the United States were paid for by Medicaid, the latest study by researchers at George Washington University and the March of Dimes looked at individual state data and estimated that in 2010 48 percent of births were covered by Medicaid.

Forty-eight percent of newborn Americans are considered to be in or near poverty. We're cutting food stamps.

But when it comes to the cost of yet another misbegotten military operation halfway around the world, which even the proponents acknowledge is nothing more than a symbolic gesture, we don't even ask for an estimate.

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