|Issue of the Day Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category|
One proposal to pay for national health insurance calls for imposing a surtax on income tax bills of the top 1.2% of American households. The tax would start at 1% for couples making $350,000 – $500,000. The surtax would rise to 5.4% for households making more than a million dollars; this is lower than depression era recovery efforts. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, very few small businesses would be affected. Plus, according to the proposal, small businesses that offer health insurance will see their cost reduced under the new plan. The tax increases of the House bill won’t take effect until 2011.
The Obama administration hopes that this tax increase will help pay for the record budget spending increases of the federal government, which has reached a total of $2.9 trillion in 2008. Mandatory spending now equals $1.788 trillion, an increase of 4.2%, this includes Social Security (+4.5%), Medicare (+5.2%), Medicaid and SCHIPS (+5.6%), Unemployment (+1.8%) and Interest on the National Dept (+9.2%). Discretionary spending equals $1.114 trillion, an increase of 3.1%, which includes double digit increases of 45.8% on the Global War on Terror, 12.1% on the Department of Defense, 18.7% for the Department of Veterans Affairs, 22% for the Department of State, and 13.1% for the Department of Transportation.
Population security is impacted by the ratio of police proportional to the size of the population being protected or controlled, a concept called population-driven force ratios. For populations such as ones in the US, the proportion of police officers required for day-to-day law enforcement duties among generally peaceful populations comes to a force ratio ranging from one to four police officers per 1000 residents. With greater emphasis on life saving equipment and new training techniques that result in fewer shootouts, plus specialized squads to defuse threatening situations, less of both populations are killed per year than 20 years ago.
Currently on average the ratio of police to population in the US comes to about 2.3 officers per thousand residents; larger cities have higher ratios. That force ratio has remained steady for nearly three decades at around 2.21-2.34 police officers per 1000 civilian population. The number of officers killed in the line of duty has reduced by over three times that of the early 1970s. Presently, the number of fallen has reduced further from 70 in 2001 to 41 in 2008. The 72 deaths that resulted from the events of September 11, 2001 are not included in the totals. So far this year, there have been 20 gun related deaths for the police nationwide.
New Focus at Department of Defense Increases Spending
Published Wednesday, June 17th, 2009 by Lacey Loftin
U.S. Defense spending increased for the fiscal year 2010 and is projected to increase slightly again in 2011. This comes despite Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ cuts to weapons programs. The Obama Administration announced early that spending will focus more on intelligence, cyber security, and unmanned systems — used heavily in Iraq and maritime versions being built for the Navy. Plus, as North Korea stretches its nuclear program, the administration is seeking $7.8 billion for the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency in the 2010 budget year, down about $1.2 billion from 2009. For Homeland Security, the House Appropriations Committee approved several high tech improvements for fiscal year 2010, including $692 million for the DHS Border Security, Fencing, Infrastructure and Technology account.
Since 1980, the defense budget went from $32,486 billion to $126,311 billion, spending the most on procurement/purchasing from military contracts. The operations budget, which contains the War supplement, has actually reduced this year to $144 billion, down $50 billion from last year. As for the Department of Homeland Security spending and its mission areas, all categories such as domestic counterterrorism, border security, protecting infrastructure increased in 2007. The only mission that decreased was spending on catastrophic events plus emergency preparedness, which was virtually steady from 2006-2007.
According to the Child and Youth Well-Being Index Project at Duke University, gains made since 1975 in family economic well-being could be endangered over the next few years. The measure of family economic well-being is measured by a combination of poverty rate, median annual income, parental employment and health insurance coverage for children. The report describes a connectivity between the different measures and predicts that more than one out of five American children will live in poverty in 2010, with African-American and Hispanic children experiencing twice the level of poverty.
The United States has remained near the bottom of the industrialized countries in regards to child poverty rates, exceeded only by that of Mexico. The rate of child poverty in the US has in recent years flattened at the rate of 16.9% as of 2007. As for the other measures of the index, the average hourly real earnings for US workers has shrunk to $8.23 an hour (1982 dollars) in 2008. Except for the Asian population, the characteristics of families living in poverty suggest that children are more likely to live with their mother and be impoverished. Plus, since 2000, the number of children enrolled to the SCHIP (State Child Health Insurance Program) has more than doubled from 2000 to 7.145 million in 2007.
As of last week, the US Department of Agriculture cut its estimate of 2008-09 U.S. cotton production. This move come is due to the adverse planting and harvest conditions that West Texas—the largest state producer—has experienced. These unfavorable conditions have lowered yields—649 pounds per acre down from 731 pounds last month—and decreased quality. This would also drop the overall US cotton production from 116.59 million bales to 115.25 million bales. In light of this, the department has also pared its projections for the US cotton exports—12 million bales from 12.25 million bales in December—due to continued drop in worldwide consumption. The average cotton production for the whole of the US is 13.59 million bales.
Global textile demand for cotton has lowered in China—the largest importer of US cotton— India, Pakistan and the US, which reflects the slowed demand for textiles worldwide. The price of cotton has not been very steady as it rises and falls with planting and growing conditions; recently the cotton futures price has risen to $0.50 from a two year drop. The slowed demand for cotton as well as other produces has the overall US agricultural trade balance reaching a 36 year low.