SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

March 24, 2014

A look at what others are saying


The Salem News

---- — Excerpts from editorials from across the region:

President Obama was elected in 2008 in part by convincing Americans he would be competent and work “for the people.” However, his obsession with politics has consistently steered him toward far-left policy choices. This has caused Americans pain, and it is up to Obama’s fellow Democrats to force a belated emphasis on moderation.

While the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — Obamacare — was never popular, Obama pushed it to satisfy his liberal base. The president promised Obamacare would guarantee all Americans quality, affordable health insurance. Instead, he got caught up in the political battle for Obamacare and mismanaged the law.

This failure has canceled millions of desirable health care plans, caused hardship for businesses and workers, and appears likely to lead to higher premiums.

The administration’s stubborn adherence to liberal “investment” economics hasn’t helped the millions of Americans looking for work. The unemployment rate has been artificially low because many people have stopped searching for work.

A course change is in order and the president would be more willing to make one if his fellow Democrats demand it. Fortunately, some are doing just that.

Recently, several Democratic senators joined with Republicans to scuttle the president’s nomination of Debo Adegbile to head the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. Adegbile, arguably best known for the legal support he provided convicted cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal, was a favorite of liberal groups like the NAACP and the AFL-CIO.

Whether Democrats are genuinely concerned for the country, their political viability or both, they have taken a powerful stand against nominees who could have helped enact more far-left policies. The Democrats who took on the administration should be applauded for their courage, and hopefully, they will keep it up.

The country cannot afford more of the far left’s agenda. If congressional Democrats continue to say no to the Obama administration, there will be no incentive for it to stay the course. The onus is on the Democrats.

— The Republican American of Waterbury, Conn.

It isn’t fraud to want to protect children from going hungry.

When Congress passed a new five-year farm bill last month, it cut roughly $8 billion over the next decade from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Even so, the House allowed a provision to remain that continues a higher level of food stamps benefits to families, provided they receive at least $20 in fuel assistance. Before, that trigger for added benefits was just $1 in fuel aid.

Lawmakers in Washington raised the bar to limit participation. And now, Massachusetts is helping poor families up and over that new threshold.

In doing so, the state joins seven others in extending fuel aid to families so they can qualify for about $80 a month in food stamps they stood to lose under the new bill’s provisions.

House Speaker John Boehner says states like Massachusetts are gaming the system — he used the word “cheat” — and are circumventing the intent of Congress. Several congressional committees are watching developments and the body may try to cut off this means of qualifying for added assistance.

What Massachusetts is doing isn’t against the law. It is following the terms of the new farm bill. If the House had wanted to cut another $3 billion from the food stamps program over a decade, it could have ended the fuel aid link to benefits — often referred to as “heat and eat” programs and used in 17 states since about 2007.

It did not, nor should it have. Rising fuel costs take money out of household budgets and leave less resources for food purchases. The two expenses are clearly connected.

The move to provide the minimum of $20 in fuel aid will help 163,000 families here not lose a big piece of their monthly food stamps allocation. The state is paying for the extra fuel assistance through $3 million in federal aid. It is important to note that this assistance is a key part of providing decent nutrition to children. The average monthly benefit for families as of November was $257, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Food costs are projected to increase 3.5 percent this year, the biggest jump in three years. By restoring lost eligibility for full food stamps benefits, the state shores up a small part of the safety net.

— The Daily Hampshire Gazette of Northampton