Entries in Funding (19)


Immigration May Help Fund Medicare

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- If you're growing old and depending on Medicare, you have someone to thank for keeping the system afloat: Immigrants, including those who entered the country illegally.

A Harvard Medical School study published on Wednesday found that immigrants generated a $13.8 billion surplus in the Medicare system in 2009. That's means they put a lot more into the system than they took out. Meanwhile, people born in the U.S. accounted for a $30.9 billion deficit.

The biggest reason immigrants are able to keep the system alive is because they're more likely to be of working age and part of the labor force. Of all immigrants in the U.S., 80 percent are between the ages of 18-64, versus 59 percent of the U.S.-born population, according to 2010 census data.

You generally have to be 65 years of age or older to receive Medicaid. There are a lot more native-born people than immigrants eligible for the federal healthcare program, so that means immigrants are less likely to be a drain.

Non-citizens specifically play an outsized role in paying our national Medicare bills.

Legal immigrants contribute to the system through payroll taxes, using valid Social Security numbers.

But undocumented immigrants also add to the coffers, some using other people's socials. Since undocumented immigrants can't receive Medicare, they could be paying for a service they'll never use.

Even when immigrants do use Medicare, they tend to use fewer services than people born in the U.S., according to the report.

All of this is a pretty big deal. Medicare makes up a fifth of all annual healthcare expenditures in the U.S., and politicians are constantly warning that system might fail as our population continues to grow older.

An immigration reform bill that's heading to the Senate floor in early June would create a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. If a bill like that passes, millions of people could become eligible to use Medicare who were previously barred.

Still, immigrants would probably continue to underwrite the Medicare system, the report found. Since immigrants tend to be younger, if the country keeps bringing in immigrant workers, they'll likely keep adding more to that system.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Democrats Seize on Romney Pledge to ‘Get Rid of’ Planned Parenthood

Toni Sandys/The Washington Post(WASHINGTON) -- Democrats have produced a Web video accusing GOP front-runner Mitt Romney of wanting to “get rid of” Planned Parenthood -- an accusation the Romney campaign claims is false and taken out of context.

The ad features Romney speaking to St. Louis TV station KDSK, which headlines the interview on its website: “Mitt Romney: Planned Parenthood, we’re going to get rid of that.”

In context, Romney was clearly talking about eliminating any federal funding of Planned Parenthood, not attempting to eliminate the private organization itself.

Listing programs he would cut to help reduce spending and the deficit, the former Massachusetts governor said, “Of course you get rid of Obamacare, that’s the easy one, but there are others: Planned Parenthood, we’re gonna get rid of that. The subsidy for Amtrak, I would eliminate that. The National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, both excellent programs, but we can’t afford to borrow money to pay for these things.”

Senior Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom clarified Tuesday night that Romney’s plan was not “getting rid of the organization.”  Instead, he pointed out in an interview with CNN, “they have other sources of funding besides government appropriations.”

Still, as Rick Santorum stole the spotlight with his primary wins in the Deep South, deputy Obama campaign manager Stephanie Cutter launched an assault on Romney over his comment, circulating the KDSK video in an email blast to supporters.

“Mitt Romney’s comments today that he would ‘get rid of’ Planned Parenthood show how low he is willing to go to pander to the most extreme elements of the Republican base,” Cutter wrote.  "Planned Parenthood is a vital health care provider for millions of American women, giving them affordable access to life-saving services like mammograms and cervical cancer screenings.”

Democratic National Committee chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz also joined the attack, saying Romney was attempting to “pander to the far right wing of his party.”  Planned Parenthood meanwhile called his proposal to cut off federal funds “dangerous and out of step with what most Americans want.”

Recent polls do show majorities of Americans oppose cuts to funding for Planned Parenthood.

A national Quinnipiac University poll found 53 percent opposed to ending federal aid to the clinics under Title X, while 43 percent support such a move. The survey, conducted Feb. 21-28, has a margin of error of 2.3 points.

Similarly, a Wall Street Journal/NBC poll conducted over the same period found 53 percent of Americans consider cuts to Title X funding “mostly or totally unacceptable,” while 45 percent disagreed. The survey’s margin of error was 3.1 points.

“Mitt Romney believes it is morally irresponsible to spend more money than we take in, and he is certainly not willing to borrow money from China to fund our nation’s leading abortion provider,” Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul told ABC News. “The real question should be why President Obama thinks that is the right course for our nation.”

The Romney campaign said in its budget blueprint last year that eliminating Title X family planning funding would save taxpayers $300 million.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Who Pays for Rick Perry’s Security? Texans

ABC News(AUSTIN, Texas) -- Rick Perry’s security costs have risen since he entered the presidential campaign in August, costing Texas taxpayers as much as $400,000 a month, according to a report by the Texas Tribune.

An examination of Texas public safety department records found that the agency spent more than $1.4 million on out-of-state trips between September to mid-December, including more than $397,000 between Sept. 5 and Sept. 28 this year.

According to the Texas Tribune, this amount included “$161,786 for airfare, $8,140 for baggage fees, $50,648.84 for food, $6,442.24 for fuel, $112,111.81 for lodging, $54,356.65 for rentals, $2,990.26 for parking and $1,238.57 in an unspecified “other” category.”

In 2011, the Texas public safety department spent $1.1 million for the entire fiscal year on out-of-state security costs.

The Texas Tribune noted that George W. Bush amassed a hefty tab for Texas taxpayers when he ran for president in 2000 while he sat as the governor of Texas. The state spent at least $400,000 per month in the first quarter of the year when he ran for president in 2000, and Texas taxpayers paid $3.9 million for his security costs between January 1999 and March 2000 when Secret Service took over security detail.

Perry is the only candidate, other than President Obama, whose security is funded by taxpayers.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


FEMA Funding: Napolitano Warns Against ‘Political Gridlock’

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Could federal disaster relief become the next battleground over the federal deficit?

The Federal Emergency Management Agency said over the weekend that because of the string of natural disasters in the past year, its disaster relief fund had dwindled to about $900 million.  The agency said it might have to restrict recovery spending for other, recent natural disasters if Congress did not approve additional funds — a stark warning after the estimated multibillion dollars in damage caused by Hurricane Irene.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on Tuesday urged Congress to avoid “political gridlock” and move quickly to approve more federal disaster funding in the wake of Hurricane Irene.

Political gridlock “should not be the first concern of the Congress,” Napolitano said. “I think the first concern of the Congress is what do we need to protect the health and safety of the people that we’re all privileged to represent. Congress knows that this is historically the way disaster relief has been funded.”

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said Republicans would approve more disaster relief only if spending cuts were made elsewhere in the federal budget to make up the difference. Napolitano and others fear that disaster relief could become the latest political football in the emotionally-charged debate over the federal deficit.

“At the beginning of the fiscal year, they don’t give you a crystal ball,” Napolitano told reporters Tuesday. “So the way they do the [Disaster Relief Fund] is they get the three-year rolling average. And then if you need more, then at the end of the year there’s a supplemental” bill passed by Congress and money is held up until more funding is provided.  She said Congress should continue to play by the established rules.

While calling for more funding, Napolitano said it was too early to tell just how much Hurricane Irene was going to cost.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


GOP Raises Doubts About Debt Ceiling ‘Catastrophe’

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- House and Senate Republicans are staking out their negotiating position ahead of the coming debate about raising the nation’s debt ceiling and they’re using all the leverage they’ve got.

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, penned an op-ed in Monday’s National Review arguing that Congress should refuse to up the debt ceiling unless it also passes a balanced-budget amendment.

“The debt-ceiling charade must come to an end,” Lee wrote, "and the federal government must implement binding, permanent, structural spending reforms.”

Lee, a conservative freshman senator, pledged to “aggressively oppose” any efforts to raise the ceiling without accompanying budget-balancing measures.

“As history suggests, the strategy of creating a debt-ceiling boogeyman works every time,” he wrote, referring to what he said were scare tactics employed by the Obama administration. “Having maxed out one card, they habitually demand another, using threats of fiscal Armageddon to extort taxpayers into giving them ‘just one more.’”

Democrats and the White House have been warning of the dire consequences of not raising the limit -- the government would default on its loans and the resulting financial disruption would likely send the U.S. and global economies into an economic tailspin. Obama administration officials like Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and Chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers Austan Goolsbee have sounded confident that Congress will, in the end, raise the ceiling.

But that hasn’t stopped some of Senator Lee’s fellow Republicans from putting pressure on the administration.

“The idea that this is catastrophic is wrong,” Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma, said in an appearance on NBC’s Meet The Press, on Sunday. “What is catastrophic is to continue to spend money we don't have.”

The Oklahoma Republican insisted that the “debt limit doesn't really mean anything because we've always extended it” and that the U.S. Treasury could still pay down the interest on the country’s loans even if the limit is not extended.

When asked if Congress was likely to raise the limit, Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Illinois, said: “Maybe or maybe not,” suggesting that it should be tied to “the bipartisan deficit commission report of the ‘Gang of Six.’”

“That would be huge cuts in the future spending of the United States that may be a good deal,” he said. “Without that we should not send a blank check to the administration.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


FBI Director Warns Against Government Shutdown

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- FBI Director Robert Mueller warned that a looming government shutdown could leave the bureau unable to fill as many as 1,100 positions, hampering critical FBI operations.

Testifying at one of the last congressional hearings he is likely to attend before his September retirement, Mueller said that if Congress does not find a way to keep the government running, it will leave the nation's top law enforcement agency in a lurch.

"Under the current levels in the continuing resolution, the FBI will have to absorb over $200 million in cuts; and without any changes, the current continuing resolution will leave us with over 1,100 vacant positions by the end of the year. Put simply, these cuts would undermine our efforts to continue to transform the bureau and undermine our efforts to carry out our mission."

According to FBI officials, if a budget is not passed the agency will have to operate under 2010 budget levels. Officials say that the 1,100 empty positions would be a mix of agents, analysts and professional staff.

The current FBI jobs website, which includes online applications to become an FBI special agent, a linguist or analyst or a member of the elite Hostage Rescue Team, is currently frozen. "At this time, federal agencies are operating under a Continuing Resolution with limited funding," says a message on the site. "As a result, the Department of Justice has ordered a temporary freeze on agency hiring. Until the budgetary restrictions are lifted and the FBI has funding to support hiring additional personnel, applications will not be accepted for any positions. Please return to this website for updates to our hiring opportunities. Thank you for your continued interest in FBI employment."

Mueller, who has led the bureau since 9/11, told the committee, "The support from this committee and Congress has been an important part of transforming the FBI into the national security agency it is today. But for our transformation to be complete, we must continue to hire, train and develop our cadre of agents, analysts and staff to meet the complex threats we face now and in the future."

The FBI is seeking funds to expand several operations, including the High Value Detainee Interrogation Group (HIG) and the National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force, to deal with computer crimes and cyber security issues.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Shutdown Showdown: Lawmakers Stalled in Government Funding Talks 

Comstock Images/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Members of Congress returning to work Monday only have until the end of next week to reach a funding deal and avert a government shutdown, but judging by recent developments, a shutdown now appears to be a very real possibility.

In recent days, budget negotiations suddenly disintegrated into another partisan war of words. Democrats had been prepared to offer an additional $20 billion in spending cuts, one congressional source said, but pulled back when it appeared that House Speaker John Boehner would reject the proposal due to Tea Party opposition. The talks then collapsed and both parties reverted to ripping each other in public.

“After days of positive negotiations, with significant flexibility shown by the Speaker, the House Republican leadership is back to agonizing over whether to give in to right-wing demands that they abandon any compromise on their extreme cuts,” the Senate’s number-three Democrat, Chuck Schumer, said Friday.

On Monday, the bitter back-and-forth among lawmakers continued.

“The biggest gap in these negotiations isn’t between Republicans and Democrats -- it’s between Republicans and Republicans,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said on the Senate floor. “Time is not on our side, so it’s time I say to my Republican colleagues, ‘Get to work. Work out your differences.’”

Across the aisle House Majority Leader Eric Cantor fired back by saying that people should point the finger of blame at Reid and Schumer if a shutdown occurs.

“In the scope of our debt crisis, if Senator Reid and Senator Schumer force the government to partially shut down over these sensible spending cuts, Americans will hold them accountable,” Cantor said.

With only 11 days left before a shutdown would occur, timing presents a very real problem for both houses of Congress. Senate Tea Partiers such as Rand Paul and Mike Lee could make Senate leadership to jump through multiple procedural hoops in order to pass a funding bill, forcing the Senate to use up a full week to pass a bill from start to finish. The House, meanwhile, has a rule that bills must be posted for three days before a vote, chewing up more valuable time. And that is all assuming that a long-term deal is ultimately reached, a massive assumption at this stage.

Ultimately, perhaps the most stark indication of the showdown over a shutdown is that lawmakers are not even meeting Monday in an attempt to hash out an agreement. Factor in all those issues and, as one congressional source put it, a government shutdown on April 9 is “not unlikely.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


GOP Sen. Scott Brown Opposes Slashing Planned Parenthood Funds

TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. Scott Brown is breaking from the GOP by opposing a plan to cut all federal funding to Planned Parenthood.

In a statement, the Massachusetts Republican said, "I support family planning and health services for women...the proposal to eliminate all funding for family planning goes too far."

House Republicans want to attach a provision to a long-term spending bill being debated in Congress that would eliminate $300 million in federal aid and grants to Planned Parenthood.  Their rationale is that the organization is the country's main provider of abortions.

Brown joins Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski as the second Republican who has publicly come out against the Planned Parenthood cuts.  However, it's unclear whether he'll still vote in favor of the provision attached to the bill, as he did earlier this month with the stopgap spending bill.

Brown won a special election in Massachusetts in January 2010 to complete the term of the late Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy.  He plans on running for reelection next year and his stance on Planned Parenthood could help his chances in the state, which usually leans left on social issues.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama Wants Fixes to 'No Child Left Behind' Before Next School Year

ABC News(ARLINGTON, Va.) -- President Obama is calling on Congress to send him a bill to fix No Child Left Behind that he could sign into law before the next school year begins.

"We've got to get it right," Obama said Monday at Kenmore Middle School in Arlington, Va.

"I want every child in this country to head back to school in the fall knowing that their education is America's priority."

While admitting that the goals of No Child Left Behind were correct, the president cited specific fixes to the program that he says can make education better and more successful for children, parents, and students.

"We need to not only hold failing schools accountable, we need to help turn those schools around. In the 21st century, it's not enough to leave no child behind. We need to help every child get ahead," Obama said. "What hasn't worked is denying teachers, schools, and states what they need to meet these goals."

President Obama outlined the changes that he would like to see:

  • Efforts to boost teacher effectiveness and to focus on results for students.
  • New ways to recruit, prepare, evaluate, and retain the best teachers.
  • Greater flexibility to support innovation and improvement in education.
  • System of incentives, rewards, and reorganization for schools making significant strides in helping children succeed.

The president admitted there currently "isn't a lot of money to go around," but said that this is one area that cannot be cut, amid the debates being waged on Capitol Hill over the budget.

"We can't be reckless and we can't be irresponsible about how we cut. Let me make it plain: We cannot cut education," Obama said.

The president said that sacrificing the nation's commitment to education in the budget would be like sacrificing the country's future.

"I will not let it happen," the president concluded.

Before his speech the president visited a classroom and spoke briefly to the students. He admitted that around this time -- in middle school -- it was "probably a time when I was at my worst," he said, adding that he was in trouble in the principal's room often.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Rep. Steve King: Health Care Fight Worth Risking Gov't Shutdown

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Rep. Steve King is lobbying his colleagues to take their fight against President Obama's health care law to a new level: He wants to cut off funding for the law as a condition for keeping other government funds in place.

"We have a leverage point, and it is the funding for the government for the balance of the fiscal year 2011," King, R-Iowa, told ABC News. "This is the place to pitch the fight."

If such a stance brings about a partial government shutdown, it would be Democrats' fault, King said: "If we shut off the funding to implement Obamacare and the Senate or the president refuses to go along with it, that is their decision, not ours."

Still, King argued, a shutdown might not be a bad result.

"If essential services keep going, no, it wouldn't be. And I think that we'd be able to keep essential services going on. You know, the wedge issue is this: Is the president -- would he think that his signature issue is more important to him than all the functions of government? That's the question. And in the end, will American people stand with us, or will they stand with Obamacare?"

King also criticized Democrats for not having passed a budget last year -- forcing the series of "continuing resolutions" that patch together funding a few weeks at the time. "It's not a way to run the government," King said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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