Monday, November 19, 2012

November 19, 2012

Homeland Security promotes welfare to new immigrants in government ‘welcome’ materials
by Caroline May
November 18, 2012

Ask not what you can do for your country, but what your new country can do for you.

“Welcome to,” a website maintained by the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), bills itself as the “primary gateway for new immigrants to find basic information on how to settle in the United States” — featuring a prominent section for new immigrants about how to access government benefits.

“Depending on your immigration status, length of time in the United States, and income, you may be eligible for some federal benefit programs,” the Web page reads.

“Government assistance programs can be critically important to the well-being of some immigrants and their families. Frequently, however, there is a lack of information about how to access such benefits. Benefit programs can be complicated and you may be given misleading information about how they operate.”

The DHS page offers links to government websites that explain how to access benefits including food stamps, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid, Medicare, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and the “official website with information on all available federal benefit programs,” with a nonworking link to also boasts to immigrants that “[f]ree public education for children is one reason many immigrants come to the United States.”

Though the website appears to advertise benefits, new immigrants are not necessarily eligible for the benefits displayed on the website; enrollment in SSI and TANF may also serve as impediments to future immigration status adjustments.

USCIS spokesman Bill Wright told The Daily Caller that the site is not intended to advise individuals on their eligibility.

“The website seeks to improve access to federal government information on the Internet by consolidating information into helpful categories and highlight new resources available to immigrants and the organizations that serve them,” Wright explained in an email.

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Never Has Less Cost More - Dismal economic growth is the flip side of trillion dollar deficits -- so expect more of the same, if not worse, indefinitely.
by J.T. Young
November 19, 2012

The official verdict is in: Washington has never paid so much for so little. Last week, the Congressional Budget Office released its final tally on the federal government's "fourth consecutive year with a deficit above $1 trillion." And in return, America finished the fourth year of its worst peacetime economic recovery since the Depression.

If government spending was supposed to equal prosperity, America has not gotten what it's paid for. Not that it hasn't paid a lot.

The federal government spent $3.5 trillion in fiscal year 2012. As CBO observes: "Federal spending has totaled between $3.5 trillion and $3.6 trillion in each of the past four years…" Prior to these four years, government spending had never broken $3 trillion.

Put into perspective, the entire federal debt held by the public did not reach the last four years' levels of annual spending until 1995.

Little surprise then that Washington racked up mind-boggling deficits over these last four years. Before these last four years, Washington's annual deficit had peaked at $459 billion. Last year's deficit? $1.1 trillion -- well more than twice the record high before these last four years' -- and the lowest of the four.

Put into perspective, total federal spending did not equal last year's deficit spending until 1989.

Not surprising these spending-stoked deficits have resulted in an enormous debt increase. Prior to these past four years, federal debt held by the public equaled $5.8 trillion. CBO projected that at the end of 2012, it would equal $11.3 trillion. In four years, this debt has essentially doubled.

Put into perspective, the last four years of federal spending's deficits have accumulated federal debt equal to all that had been accumulated previously.

For all this federal spending, deficits, and debt, what has America gotten in return? The worst economic recovery of any post-Depression period. In 2009, the economy shrank 3.1 percent. In 2010, it grew 2.4 percent; in 2011, 1.8 percent; and in 2012, it is projected to rise 2.1 percent.

Average the real economic growth of these four years, and you come up with less than 1 percent growth -- just 0.8 percent! Even dropping 2009's negative growth and you get just over 2 percent -- a level that would equal weak growth if it were just one year's, let alone a 3-year average.

If anything could make this all seem worse, it is that Washington is not done. CBO's latest estimate for federal spending is $3.6 trillion -- slightly higher than 2012's. If Washington avoids the so-called "fiscal cliff," whereby spending is automatically cut and taxes raised at year's end, then the deficit will again exceed $1 trillion -- for a fifth consecutive year.

And the American economy? Even avoiding the fiscal cliff's projected recessionary impact, CBO estimates the economy will only grow 1.7 percent -- less than in any of the three previous years!

Economics is called the dismal science for a reason, but it has nothing on recent federal budgeting when it comes to dismal.

Washington has just closed the books on the worst chapters in its budget and economic peacetime history. Over the last four years, it has spent like never before, rung up deficits like never before, and accumulated debt equal to all it had run up before.

What has it gotten in return? The worst economic recovery in its peacetime history.

And as though this was not more than enough, Washington is already hard at work on the next installment in this sordid story.

It is said America is afraid of uncertainty arising from the fiscal cliff, wait until it gets a load of fiscal repetition. America has not gotten what it paid for, but it is unquestionably going to be paying for what little it gets. And paying, and paying, and paying.

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S&P 500 Has Lost $806 Billion Since Obama's Re-election
by Bloomberg News
November 19, 2012

The post-election rout in U.S. stocks has driven the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index down so far that it would have to advance 26 percent to reach the valuation of bull markets since John F. Kennedy was in the White House.

Investors have seen $806 billion erased from the value of American equities since President Barack Obama was re-elected Nov. 6 in the biggest decline since May. The combination of falling stocks and rising profits as the economy recovers has left the S&P 500’s price-earnings ratio below the ending level of eight of the nine bull markets since 1962 and beneath the average of any since Ronald Reagan was in power.

Bears say the 4.8 drop in the S&P 500 and valuations show investors are losing confidence that Congress and Obama will reach a budget compromise that would keep the recovery from stalling. Bulls, including the top strategists at six Wall Street firms, say that the declines are another reason to buy and that stock prices from Apple Inc. to Dollar Tree Inc. are bound to improve as earnings increase.

“The stock market looks cheap because people are way too pessimistic about what growth looks like for the next 10 years,” said Brian Jacobsen, who helps oversee $208 billion as chief strategist at Wells Fargo Advantage Funds and predicts the S&P 500 will rise 47 percent to 2,000 in 2014. “You can get big and rapid moves in the market when expectations are so low.”

Concern about the so-called fiscal cliff -- $607 billion of spending cuts and tax increases that automatically go into effect Jan. 1 -- overshadowed better-than-estimated profit reports from Cisco Systems Inc. and Home Depot Inc. last week, sending the S&P 500 down 1.5 percent to 1,359.88. Obama began face-to-face talks with top Republicans and Democrats on Nov. 16 after he and House Speaker John Boehner said they will work toward an agreement. Boehner and White House Press Secretary Jay Carney described the meeting as “constructive.”

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