All is quiet on the Washington front. But don’t let the lull in partisan warfare fool you. In two weeks Congress returns from its summer recess, after hearing from constituents who hold the institution in lower esteem than used car salesmen, and view eating Brussels sprouts, enduring traffic jams, and having colonoscopies less daunting prospects than continuing to watch this Congress in action. Nevertheless, few members of this despised institution are likely to lose their seats in November. Turn the rascals out, but not my rascal, seems to be the prevailing view.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a report on Thursday regarding illegal trafficking in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), more commonly known as food stamps. The report showed that the rate of trafficking rose from 1 percent of total benefits in the last study period of 2006-2008 to 1.3 percent in the current study period of 2009-2011, an increase of 30 percent. The report noted the trafficking rate remains well below a rate of almost 4 percent that existed for much of the 1990s. The rate plunged to 1 percent by the 2002-2005 study period and remained there until the current report:
The effects of the sequester would be dire. Or so we were told. The massive furloughing of bureaucrats across all agencies and departments would result in cutbacks, or even elimination, of essential services. The bonds on civilization would be strained.
While furloughs of civilian employees of the Defense Department have not lived up to the pre-sequester billing, the Pentagon is doing what it can to ease the pain for those who will be taking involuntary time off. The American Forces Press Service is reporting that the director of the Pentagon's Morale, Welfare and Recreation (WMR) program is urging furloughed civilians to tap into "fitness, recreational and educational services, often at no charge or for significantly less than one might pay just outside an installation’s gates." The list of "free or low-cost" offerings is extensive:
A live event this morning with Senator Marco Rubio, Senator Ted Cruz, and Governor Ed Rendell called, "The Need for Spending Reform: The $17 Trillion Debt Threat & America’s Spending Addiction." Panelists include Veronique De Rugy, Representative Adam Kinzinger, and Pete Hegseth.
Remember how the sequester was supposed to ravage the landscape? The automatic spending cuts would, we were told, cause all manner of pain and suffering – inconvenience, even – as David A. Fahrenthold & Lisa Rein of the Washington Postreport, we were warned:
As the sequester bore down on Washington, the dire warnings from the Obama administration gave the impression that wild horses couldn't drag another dime out of the treasury for a whole host of vital government services. Aircraft carrier refueling, the Head Start program, and White House tours were among the high profile victims.