Thursday, Sept. 19

Thursday, Sept. 19

Census: Louisiana still poor; Cuts to food stamp program would harm veterans, children; FEMA says only Congress can keep flood insurance rates low; Making money off the poor: Thomas Edsall; and U.S. House Republicans threaten government shutdown. 19.9 percent — The percentage of Louisianans who lived in poverty last year, the third highest in the nation. (Source: U.S. Census Bureau)

Census: Louisiana still poor
Louisiana has the third highest poverty rate, fourth highest child poverty rate and eighth lowest median household income in the country, according to new data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau. The percent of Louisianans without health coverage fell slightly in 2012 from the previous year, due in part to a new provision of the new health care law that lets young adults stay on their parents plan until age 26. LBP will have much more on the American Community Survey data release today on its blog, Our Two Cents.

Cuts to food stamp program would harm veterans, children
The U.S. House is expected to vote today on a bill that would reduce federal funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, commonly known as food stamps) by nearly $40 billion over 10 years. SNAP provided essential benefits to one in five Louisianans last year. As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reports, approximately 170,000 veterans could be affected by this budget cut due to two provisions in the bill that would place food assistance for jobless workers at risk. Reductions in SNAP benefits would also weaken food security for many low-income children. The child advocacy organization First Focus notes nearly half of all SNAP households include children, and these households receive 69.2 percent of all SNAP benefits.

FEMA says only Congress can keep flood insurance rates low
The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency says his agency must enforce a law that will drastically increase flood insurance rates for many Louisiana households unless federal lawmakers reverse course. Congress made changes to the National Flood Insurance Program last year in an attempt to make the program more financially sound. Some of the changes included phasing out some grandfathered rates, and increasing premiums for new properties. In addition, insurance rates for primary residences currently receiving grandfathered rates will increase when the home is sold or the policy lapses – making many of these properties very difficult to sell. While a cross-section of lawmakers from affected states are seeking support to change the law, little progress has been made due to the current federal budget stalemate.

Making money off the poor: Thomas Edsall
Reducing the number of businesses that generate millions of dollars in profits on the backs of the impoverished could be the first step toward mitigating the skyrocketing rates of economic inequality in our society. That’s the main conclusion of a New York Times column by Thomas Edsall, which describes how predatory lenders design their products with the intent of turning one-time users into repetitive customers. The column goes on to cite a Washington Post series that details how some banks buy tax liens on properties for a few hundred dollars, only to turn around and foreclose on property owners when they cannot repay their debts. While there is little prospect in the current political environment of passing major initiatives to help the poor, Edsall says tightening the restraints on predatory lending and corrupt eviction procedures would be good starting points.

U.S. House Republicans threaten government shutdown
Republicans in the House are so eager to deny money for health care reform that they are willing to shut down the federal government in an attempt to get their way. The nonpartisan Congressional Research Service reported in July that the Affordable Care Act would still go into effect during a government shutdown because the federal government could rely on sources of funding to implement the law other than annual discretionary appropriations. CRS also noted, “[T]he lapse in funding would not automatically suspend the requirement of the individual mandate.”

19.9 percent — The percentage of Louisianans who lived in poverty last year, the third highest in the nation. (Source: U.S. Census Bureau)