1 in 5 New Mexicans Receive Government Help For Food

From lamonitor.com - One in five New Mexicans now receives government help to buy food.  The number of people enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, soared as the nation's economy began sinking a couple of years ago, with more than 400,000 New Mexico residents now receiving the benefits, the Albuquerque Journal Monday reported in a copyright story. SNAP benefits, once known as food stamps, are a safety net for people who have fallen on tough times.  The program is based on income. A family of four, for example, can make up to $3,032 a month and qualify.  More News New Mexico

Bingaman's Non-Response to Debt Crisis

Jeff Bingaman
Newsnm note - (Spence) Recently I contacted Senator Jeff Bingaman via email and asked him to please support Representative Paul Ryan's "Path to Prosperity," which passed in the U.S. House last Friday. Below is Bingaman's canned response. Note that it does not contain one single suggestion for cutting spending. What this communication does contain are silly platitudes which when taken collectively amount to setting everything OFF LIMITS......everything except all taxpayers sending more money to Washington. Bingaman does take the time to sneak in some veiled criticism of Ryan's plan, which just happens to be the only responsible federal budget proposal most observers have seen in their entire adult lives. Sadly, this amounts to a standard fare response out of Washington D.C. from our five-term Senator. After reading this form letter one can see how Bingaman might have been part of the borrowing problem all along. Perhaps it is a good time to retire.
Dear Friend, Thank you for contacting me regarding our nation's debt. I appreciate your taking the time to write. Our national debt is rapidly climbing and threatens American prosperity. I believe that we must get serious about addressing the debt so that our country can continue to grow and provide essential services. Moving forward, this means we must consider a wide-range of policies to restore fiscal security. Congress will need to work on a bipartisan basis to make tough decisions both to control spending and to increase revenues, and neither has ever been an easy task. I agree that some level of spending cuts are necessary.
In this regard, Congress has taken crucial steps, including savings from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Fiscal Year 2011 Continuing Resolution (CR), which reduces spending by about $38 billion compared to the budget in FY2010. If we are serious about restoring fiscal security, however, we must now focus on more than just the non-security discretionary accounts, which amount to about 12 cents of every dollar spent by Washington. A more comprehensive approach will have to look at entitlement programs, security programs, and revenue increases to balance the budget. At the same time, we must continue to invest in programs that are critical to maintaining our economic recovery and strengthening our economy going forward. The creation of our nation's debt was a bipartisan effort and as such requires a bipartisan solution. Whether or not we agree with the obligations imposed upon our nation during times when both parties controlled different branches of government, we must agree that addressing our fiscal challenges is in the best interest of the nation.
Recently, President Obama revealed his proposal for reducing the deficit and encouraging economic growth. It stands in sharp contrast to other deficit reduction plans that place too much of the burden on the middle class and seniors. I applaud the President's leadership in acknowledging that we cannot fix our deficit problems with budget cuts alone. I also agree that whatever steps we take must protect investments that we need to make in education and innovation so that our economy can continue to grow. Please be assured that throughout this discussion, I will carefully examine every proposal and work to ensure that important federal programs, including Social Security and Medicare, remain strong. Again, thank you for writing. I hope you will continue to keep me informed of issues of importance to you and your community.


Lottery Ticket Sales Down in NM

The following is a letter sent to state legislators FROM NEW MEXICO LOTTERY CEO TOM ROMERO: Dear Legislators, In our ongoing commitment to keep you well informed of lottery matters, I wanted you to know that the lottery’s gross revenues for FY 2011 are down $4.3 million (-5%) from this time last year. As always, strict fiscal discipline is the order of the day. Among many cost-savings measures:
· We hire only to fill openings in critical job positions.
· We just started the third year of a salary freeze.
· And for the fourth consecutive year, we are spending approximately $700,000 less in advertising, even though we joined a third multi-state drawing game in January 2010.
As we look across our expense budget, there is no one item or combination of items that could be cut to bridge the $4.3 million gap. The only path forward is to grow sales. And to do this responsibly, we must reach new players and build their loyalty to lottery games and the Legislative Lottery Scholarship program rather than ask existing players to increase their participation. To engage new players, we have developed an integrated marketing campaign that kicks off this week.
The campaign is titled “Whatchagonnado?” The phrase “Whatchagonnado?” is intended to arouse the curiosity most people have about how winners will use their prizes – whether it’s $200 or a multi-million-dollar jackpot – and to urge non-players to think about getting into the game. The “Whatchagonnado?” catchphrase will echo across all our marketing communications over the next several years. It will also appear in future ads to promote awareness of Legislative Lottery Scholarships from the context of asking students to think about their future as college graduates. We hope this information is helpful. If you have any questions about this matter, please call me at 505-342-7612.


Census Reveals Entitlement Statistics

Examiner - The latest Census Bureau data reveals that most U.S. families headed by illegal immigrants use taxpayer-funded welfare programs on behalf of their American-born anchor babies, according to a public-interest group that investigates government corruption and fraud. Even before the recession, immigrant households with children used welfare programs at consistently higher rates than natives, according to the extensive census data collected and analyzed by the Center for Immigration Studies, a nonpartisan Washington D.C. group dedicated to researching legal and illegal immigration in the U.S. The results, published this month in a lengthy report, are hardly surprising. According to analysis by Judicial Watch, the majority of households across the country benefiting from publicly-funded welfare programs are headed by immigrants, both legal and illegal. States where immigrant households with children have the highest welfare use rates are Arizona with 62%, Texas, California and New York with 61% each and Pennsylvania at 59%. The study focused on eight major welfare programs that cost the government $517 billion the year they were examined. They include Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for the disabled, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), a nutritional program known as Women, Infants and Children (WIC), food stamps, free/reduced school lunch, public housing and health insurance for the poor (Medicaid). Read full story here: News New Mexico

Cultivating a Sense of Dependency

Santa Fe New Mexican ALBUQUERQUE — One in five New Mexicans now receives government help to buy food. The number of people enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, soared as the nation's economy began sinking a couple of years ago, with more than 400,000 New Mexico residents now receiving the benefits, the Albuquerque Journal Monday reported in a copyright story. SNAP benefits, once known as food stamps, are a safety net for people who have fallen on tough times. The program is based on income. A family of four, for example, can make up to $3,032 a month and qualify.
New Mexico figures show the average SNAP beneficiary in March received $296. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which administers the program, last year approved a New Mexico plan that allows people who make up to 165 percent of the federal poverty level to enroll in SNAP. The previous level was 130 percent. The USDA acted after the state asked it to make it easier to get benefits, said state Human Services Department spokeswoman Betina Gonzales McCracken. "Compared to other states, our SNAP participation is in the top four or top five," McCracken said. "But we know that there are still 33 percent (of eligible) families that qualify for the program who aren't enrolled." New Mexico falls among the five poorest states. Read full story here: News New Mexico


U.S. AAA Credit Rating in Jeopardy

Bloomberg - Standard & Poor’s put a “negative” outlook on the long-term AAA credit rating of the U.S., citing a “material risk” the nation’s leaders will fail to deal with rising budget deficits and debt. “We believe there is a material risk that U.S. policy makers might not reach an agreement on how to address medium-and long-term budgetary challenges by 2013,” New York-based S&P said today in a report. “If an agreement is not reached and meaningful implementation does not begin by then, this would in our view render the U.S. fiscal profile meaningfully weaker than that of peer ‘AAA’ sovereigns.”
The cost to protect against a default by the government and the nation’s banks jumped and stocks declined after the New York-based firm’s statement, which assigns a one-in-three chance that it will lower the U.S. rating in the next two years. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index tumbled 1.6 percent to 1,298.67 at 12:34 p.m. in New York. The move puts politicians on notice that the U.S. debt rating is at risk unless they reach an agreement to narrow budget deficits and reduce the national debt, which S&P forecasts will rise to 84 percent of gross domestic product by 2013. President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans have clashed repeatedly over when and how to lower the debt, as well as how to fund more immediate government needs. Read full story here: News New Mexico


Armed Service Academies Selection Process Begins

West Point
Las Cruces, NM (April 18, 2011) Congressman Steve Pearce today announced the opening of the application process for the service academies. These include the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York, and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, New York. Students applying to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut, do not need a Congressional nomination.
Interested students must submit their completed applications to Congressman Pearce’s office no later than Friday, October 21st, 2011. In November, Congressman Pearce will hold Board Academy reviews. Congressman Pearce will then submit his nominations to the Academies. The application process is open to all interested high school juniors and seniors in New Mexico’s Second Congressional District.
Students are encouraged to research the specific academies on their respective websites for further information on the nomination and selection process. Detailed information and a downloadable application are available at pearce.house.gov. Questions may be directed to Barbara Romero, Deputy District Director for Congressman Pearce, at 575-835-8979.


McCain Introduces New Border Bill

John McCain
From kingmandailyminer.com -Arizona Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyl have introduced a new 10-point border security bill to Congress Thursday. The bill is similar to one McCain and Kyl proposed in May 2010. If passed, the bill would require the federal government to:Deploy no fewer than 6,000 National Guard to the U.S./ Mexico border at a total cost of $6 million.Increase funding for the Southwest Border Prosecutors Initiative, a program that reimburses state and local governments in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas for the cost of prosecuting federally initiated drug cases involving the border. Total cost: $250 million for five years.  More News New Mexico

Pearce Voted in Favor of Spending Cuts

Congressman Steve Pearce at Veteran's Rally in Las Cruces
Washington, DC (April 15, 2011) Congressman Steve Pearce voted in favor of the Ryan Republican budget on Friday. According his office the Ryan budget will cut $6.2 trillion over 10 years, compared to President Obama’s proposal, and puts America back on the path to economic solvency. However, Mr. Pearce emphasized the fact that cutting spending alone will not restore economic growth, and that job creation must remain the top priority in Washington. “I applaud Chairman Ryan and my colleagues for recognizing the severity of our nation’s looming debt crisis. But with deficits in the trillions, cuts alone will not close our budget gap. Washington needs to reverse decades of burdensome regulations and oppressive taxes that are destroying our small businesses and killing jobs. It is only through job growth that we can hope to put America back on the path to financial recovery and fiscal responsibility.” Pearce has been an outspoken advocate for addressing the national debt, warning of the looming crisis in town halls across southern New Mexico and on the floor of the House of Representatives. He has consistently argued that the government can never cut deeply enough to close the deficit, now measured in trillions. Instead, he points out that the deficit can best be eliminated through job growth, which will increase revenues and reduce government expenditure.


More Changes at Spaceport America

According to a copyrighted story in the Albuquerque Journal, new Spaceport America Executive Director Christine Anderson, a recent Susana Martinez appointee, pulled the plug on a $1.3 million contract with Albuquerque-based Procurement Solutions. The story says Procurement Solutions began its relationship with Spaceport America with a much smaller contract four years ago. Since 2007 the company was able to rapidly expand the size of its management role and contract value with Spaceport America. Apparently Director Anderson wants to bring the decision-making at Spaceport America under state government control and have management of the facility done by someone on the state's payroll. Anticipated savings from the change would total nearly $200,000 per year according to Anderson's estimates in the journal article by Colleen Heild. Almost immediately after Governor Martinez election, Spaceport America's budget and resource management came under increased scrutiny. Anderson replaced former director Rick Homans in January shortly after Governor Martinez inauguration. 


John Sanchez to Appear on NewsNM

John Sanchez
Lieutenant Governor John Sanchez visited Las Cruces last Friday to speak at one of several Tea Party events held around the state of New Mexico. A frequent guest on News New Mexico, Sanchez is widely reported as likely to announce his candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat currently occupied by retiring U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman. Sanchez will appear again on Newsnm this morning at 7:30am. Please use the contact page to send your questions for Sanchez. Several candidates have already announced their intention to run for the U.S. Senate seat in the 2012 GOP primary including: Heather Wilson and Greg Sowards. Sowards also spoke at the Tea Party meeting in Las Cruces on Friday.

Conundrum: al Qaeda Thrives When Dictators Fall

Muammar Gadaffi
ABC News - On the same day reports emerged of a new al Qaeda video that praised the revolutions sweeping the Arab world, one the U.S.'s top counter-terror officials warned the terror organization "thrives" in the political unrest that follows. "The governments of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen have drastically changed in the last six months," FBI Assistant Director of Counter-Terrorism Mark Giuliano said Thursday. "They are now led by transitional or interim governments, military regimes, or democratic alliances with no established track record on counterterrorism efforts. Al Qaeda thrives in such conditions and countries of weak governance and political instability -- countries in which governments may be sympathetic to their campaign of violence."
Anwar al-Awalki
Giuliano made the comments at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy just hours before the first reports emerged of the new al Qaeda video, which features separate appearances by al Qaeda's number two commander, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and American-born key commander in al Qaeda in the Arabian Penninsula (AQAP), Anwar al-Awlaki, each praising the recent uprisings. Read full story here: News New Mexico