Broad Shoulders Update

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Archive for the ‘stimulus’ tag

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Cash Incentive Program for Poor Families Is Renewed,” -  The New York Times

An experimental antipoverty program that pays poor families up to $5,000 a year for going to regular medical checkups, attending school and keeping jobs has been extended for a third year.

Linda I. Gibbs, the deputy mayor for health and human services, said she was encouraged by some early results in the education component of the program that showed students improved their attendance and passed more exams when they were rewarded with cash.

Experts: Penny per ounce soda tax to fight obesity, health costs,”   - Associated Press

ATLANTA (AP) — In a bid to ramp up the public health battle against obesity, a group of nutrition and economics experts are pushing for a tax of 1 cent on every of ounce of sodas and other sweetened beverages.

Proposals for a hefty soda tax though have repeatedly fallen flat. The idea was even floated as a way to help pay for health care reform, but government officials on Wednesday said that’s not likely to happen.

 ”As farm incomes drop, grocery deals rise,” - USA TODAY

Consumers are reaping some benefits as farmers take their biggest hit in 35 years: lower food prices at the supermarket. The U.S. Department of Agriculture forecasts farm income of $49.1 billion in 2009 when adjusted for inflation. That would be a 39% drop from 2008, a record year when U.S. farmers earned $80.4 billion after expenses.

It would also be the worst annual percentage drop since 1983. In dollars, it would be the worst since 1974, adjusted for inflation.

Written by Keith Forest

September 22nd, 2009 at 9:33 pm

New Stimulus Funds will make Black & Latino Communities Healthier

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fruit-cart-ny-mag.jpgThe health of the nation’s black and Latino communities stands to get a significant shot in the arm from the $650 million in health and wellness funding announced this afternoon by the Department of Health and Human Services, according to PolicyLink, a national research and advocacy organization.

The Prevention and Wellness Fund, funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (a.k.a. the federal stimulus bill), should go a long way toward creating healthier communities across America and, in particular, battling the pernicious racial disparities we see when it comes to obesity and diabetes rates.

“This new funding will throw a lifeline to millions of black and Latino children and their parents and help create healthier communities across America,” said Angela Glover Blackwell, CEO of PolicyLink and a principal advisor for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center to Prevent Childhood Obesity. “Black and Latino Americans are hit hardest by the dual crises of obesity and diabetes. All people deserve to live in healthy communities - places with clean air, safe streets, clean parks, and easy access to healthy food options. These new funds will put us on a path toward healthy communities for all.”

The Administration’s funding approach appears to back three core policy principles PolicyLink and its partners have long called for:

  • Healthy food in our schools
  • Healthy food options in our communities
  • Healthy and safe places to live and play

The funding plan also lines up well with recommendations provided to the White House by PolicyLink and the Prevention Institute. To read those recommendations, click here.

Fact and Resources after the Jump

(more…)

Written by Dan Lavoie

September 17th, 2009 at 6:09 pm

Getting Chills in Kansas City

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As a lifelong policy advocate, I don’t often get the chills. But this week in Kansas City, I did.

I was lucky enough to attend the second stop in the White House Office of Urban Affairs Listening Tour, which brought Obama Administration officials to help kick off the Kansas City Green Impact Zone, a “comprehensive, green-impact-zone.JPGplace-based plan to invest public and private funding to transform a neighborhood plagued by high rates of poverty and violence, unemployment, and abandoned property.” (Read more about the Zone here.)

It was moving to see top federal officials — like HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan; Transportation Deputy Secretary John Porcari; White House Urban Affairs Director Adolfo Carrion; and Special Advisor for Green Jobs Van Jones — on hand to really listen to the ideas and innovations of local leaders. There is a change afoot in how the federal government thinks of cities and metropolitan areas.

The Green Impact Zone — inspired by Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, coordinated by the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC), and funded in part by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act– promises to be a shining example of what we can do with coordinated, cross-sector investments in housing, transportation, energy efficiency, and workforce training.

But, perhaps most important, it could be a model for how the federal government and local innovators can work together to make sure all Americans can live in communities of opportunity.

I don’t think these chills will be going away any time soon.

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U.S. Economy Gets Lift From Stimulus,” -  The Wall Street Journal

WASHINGTON — Government efforts to funnel hundreds of billions of dollars into the U.S. economy appear to be helping the U.S. climb out of the worst recession in decades.

But there’s little agreement about which programs are having the biggest impact. Some economists argue that efforts such as the Federal Reserve’s aggressive buying of Treasury debt and mortgage-backed securities, as well as government efforts to shore up banks, are providing a bigger boost than the administration’s $787 billion stimulus package.

The Five Biggest Lies in the Health Care Debate,” - NEWSWEEK 

To the credit of opponents of health-care reform, the lies and exaggerations they’re spreading are not made up out of whole cloth—which makes the misinformation that much more credible. Instead, because opponents demand that everyone within earshot (or e-mail range) look, say, “at page 425 of the House bill!,” the lies take on a patina of credibility. Take the claim in one chain e-mail that the government will have electronic access to everyone’s bank account, implying that the Feds will rob you blind. The 1,017-page bill passed by the House Ways and Means Committee does call for electronic fund transfers—but from insurers to doctors and other providers. There is zero provision to include patients in any such system.

Weight-Loss Surgery Breaks Families’ ‘Obesity Cycle’,” – Atlanta Journal Constitution

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 2 (HealthDay News) — Obese mothers have children who are likely to be obese, but a new study concludes that weight-loss surgery can break the cycle.

Researchers found that women who had weight-loss surgery before becoming pregnant had children who were less likely to be heavy when compared with siblings who were born before the weight-loss surgery.

Written by Keith Forest

September 3rd, 2009 at 4:31 pm

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Slums of Suburbia,” - Newsweek
Sorting through the rubble of California’s foreclosure tsunami.

John Cowgill is standing in the rain on quiet Victory Avenue in Manteca, Calif., a gridlike town of 65,000 people located just outside of Stockton. A realtor with PMZ, the biggest real-estate firm in the northern San Joaquin Valley, he is responsible for the vacant and vandalized house standing behind him; inside, grafitti covers the walls, the banister is torn off a staircase, and glass shards from a broken chandelier peak out from the carpeting. Blocks away, the road comes to an abrupt end as rows of neatly planted crops replace rows of houses.

“Look at this house and the one over there. What’s different?” Cowgill asks. At one house, the lawn is neatly trimmed and a small purple bicycle leans near the front door. At the other house, black iron bars are affixed to the door, a sight more commonly associated with the heart of the inner city than the outskirts of suburbia. Nearby, a rusty sports car sits in the driveway. “Manteca was a desirable place to live,” he explains. “But this Wild West financing meant anybody could end up here. That’s what this thing did. It scrambled communities.”

Unhealthy glut of options: Fast food dominates eating choices in vulnerable Brooklyn neighborhoods,” - The New York Daily News

In Brooklyn, you are where you eat.

Close to 60% of the borough is overweight or obese, according to recent state Health Department data.

Cutbacks pinch homeless programs,” - USA TODAY

The homeless are having more trouble getting help because of state budget cuts, and federal stimulus funding in September will fill only part of the gap, service providers for the homeless say.

“It’s a perfect storm” of falling revenue and rising need, says Joel John Roberts of PATH Partners, a group that advises communities on services for the homeless. “The holes in the safety net are getting bigger.”

Written by Keith Forest

August 25th, 2009 at 8:53 pm

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Tennessee Experiment’s High Cost Fuels Health-Care Debate,” - The Wall Street Journal

In 1994, Tennessee launched an ambitious public insurance program to cover its uninsured. The plan, TennCare, fulfilled that mission but nearly bankrupted the state in the process.

 ”Poll: 57% don’t see stimulus working,” - USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — Six months after President Obama launched a $787 billion plan to right the nation’s economy, a majority of Americans think the avalanche of new federal aid has cost too much and done too little to end the recession.

 ”New Orleans Neighborhood Housing Services to run $20 million home repair effort,” - The Times-Picayune

The city is negotiating a deal with the nonprofit Neighborhood Housing Services to run a home-repair program that would make nearly $20 million available to owners of storm-damaged property, according to a recent city memo describing the proposal.

Written by Keith Forest

August 18th, 2009 at 8:15 pm

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 “Detroit tries peddling produce like ice cream,” - The Associated Press
Produce truck serves a community with no easy access to fresh food

DETROIT - In a U.S. neighborhood served by 26 liquor stores but only one grocery, a community group is peddling fresh fruits and vegetables like ice cream.

Five days a week, the Peaches & Greens truck winds its way through the streets as a loudspeaker plays R&B and puts out the call: “Nutritious, delicious. Brought right to you. We have green and red tomatoes, white and sweet potatoes. We have greens, corn on the cob and cabbage, too.”

Some states get share of stimulus faster,” - USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — Stimulus money is flowing far more slowly to some states than others, a USA TODAY analysis shows, despite the Obama administration’s push to speed up spending to help jump start the nation’s economy.

Nearly six months after President Obama signed the $787 billion stimulus bill, some states, such as California, have collected more than half of the money that’s been promised to them so far. Ten others, such as Alaska, New Hampshire and Wyoming, have been paid less than a quarter, the review of federal spending reports shows.

Rate of severe childhood obesity up sharply in U.S.,” - Reuters

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - The rate of severe obesity among U.S. children and teenagers more than tripled over the past three decades, a new study finds.

Using data from a long-running government health survey, researchers found that as of 2004, nearly 4 percent of 2- to 19-year-olds in the U.S. were severely obese.

Written by Keith Forest

August 13th, 2009 at 7:05 pm

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Stimulus cash lifts states, localities,” - USA TODAY

A huge influx of federal stimulus money to state and local governments more than offset a sharp drop in tax collections, helping to put the brakes on the nation’s economic decline, new government data show.

The stimulus funds helped reverse six months of spending declines, pushing state and local government expenditures up 4.8% in the second quarter, reports the Bureau of Economic Analysis. 

America’s Abandoned Cities,” - Forbes.com

Indeed, the Kansas City metro area tops our list of America’s Abandoned Cities. In Kansas City, rental vacancy rates rose from 11.9% to 15% over the past year; homeowner vacancy rates nearly doubled, up from 2.1% to 3.8%. Comparatively, the average homeowner vacancy rate in the country’s 75 largest metro areas improved slightly from 3% to 2.7%, while the rental vacancy rate edged up to 10.2% from 10% a year ago.

Kansas City isn’t the only metro where rental and homeowner vacancy rates are rising in tandem. Second on our list is the San Francisco-Oakland metro, where high prices are pushing Bay Area residents out of the region. Third is Tucson, Ariz., where the aftermath of the housing boom has left a glut of inventory. The pair’s predicament illustrates both sides of the vacancy coin.

Where does the healthcare overhaul legislation stand?” -  Los Angeles Times

Reporting from Washington — Amid a flurry of activity on healthcare legislation, the House left Friday for its monthlong summer recess. The Senate will take off at the end of this week. The break comes as Democratic leaders are working to cobble together complex healthcare bills to bring to the floors of each chamber for votes this fall.

Written by Keith Forest

August 3rd, 2009 at 6:24 pm

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Tips can help the poor bridge grocery gap,” - The Fresno Bee
Ways to make life’s staples affordable

Maria Valencia of Strathmore stands in a long line twice a month to get free fruits and vegetables. Then she packs them in a baby stroller and rolls them to her home several blocks away.

The produce giveaway by FoodLink, a nonprofit food bank in Tulare County, is one of the ways organizations are trying to bridge the grocery gap for thousands of low-income people in the central San Joaquin Valley.

Cost of treating obese patients soars to $147 billion,” -  USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — Obese Americans — those who are 30 or more pounds over a healthy weight — cost the country an estimated $147 billion in weight-related medical bills in 2008, double what it was a decade ago, a new study shows.

Overall, an obese patient has $4,871 in medical bills a year compared with $3,442 for a patient at a healthy weight.

 ”House OKs money for rail, infrastructure bank,” - Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - High-speed rail projects would receive a $2 billion boost under a bill passed by the House of Representatives on Thursday that also lays the groundwork for a national infrastructure bank.

By a vote of 256-168, the House approved $68.8 billion for transportation and housing projects for the fiscal year starting October 1, a 25 percent increase over 2009 funding levels.

Written by Keith Forest

July 28th, 2009 at 9:14 pm

Today in Equity

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2008 Surge in Black Voters Nearly Erased Racial Gap,” - The New York Times

In last year’s presidential election, younger blacks voted in greater proportions than whites for the first time and black women turned out at a higher rate than any other racial, ethnic and gender group, a census analysis released Monday confirmed.

As a result, in the election that produced the nation’s first black president, the historic gap between black and white voter participation rates over all virtually evaporated.

 ”S.C. case looks on child obesity as child abuse. But is it?,” - USA TODAY

Jerri Gray was doing all she could to help her son lose weight, her attorney says. But something had gone terribly wrong for the boy to hit the 555-pound mark by age 14.

Authorities in South Carolina say that what went wrong was Gray’s care and feeding of her son, Alexander Draper. Gray, 49, of Travelers Rest, S.C., was arrested in June and charged with criminal neglect. Alexander is now in foster care.

Ten Questions on the Health-Care Overhaul,” -  The Wall Street Journal

It is crunch time for health care. Lawmakers who are trying to fundamentally remake one-sixth of the U.S. economy say this might be the most complicated legislation they have undertaken.

Here are some basics that everyone can grasp — and probably ought to, because the health bill, if it passes, will affect almost everyone.

Written by Keith Forest

July 21st, 2009 at 4:16 pm