by German Lopez
Mayor explains initiatives as he prepares for meeting with president
Mayor John Cranley plans to address the city’s long-term unemployment problems with a set of new initiatives, some of which could get support from the White House, he told CityBeat Thursday.One of the initiatives is in direct response to President Barack
Obama’s call, heard by millions during the State of the Union Tuesday,
to get private companies on board with ending discrimination against the
long-term unemployed.Specifically, Cranley says he helped get Procter &
Gamble and other local companies to agree to join the president’s
initiative.“It wasn’t that hard to sell them on it, but they've got a
lot of things going on,” Cranley says. “Getting their attention and
focus on these things is one of the great powers that I have. I can help
ask people to give back in ways they just haven’t thought of before.”With a visit to the White House planned for Friday,
Cranley hopes his quick response to Obama’s call could help the city
land future federal grants for programs that address long-term
unemployment.As an example, Cranley points to a new White House
initiative that asks cities to develop innovative pilot programs that help
the long-term unemployed. The initiative will award federal grants, which Cranley estimates at a couple million
dollars per city, to the 10 best
proposals.In preparation, the city is partnering with several local
organizations, including the Workforce Investment Board and United Way
of Greater Cincinnati, to develop a unique plan. How the city’s proposal
looks ultimately depends on the constraints set by the application
requirements, but Cranley cited more educational opportunities and
subsidies for companies that hire the long-term unemployed as two examples
cities might undertake.The proposal, however it looks, would come in addition to
Cranley’s Hand Up Initiative, which he plans to fund through this year’s
city budget. As part of the initiative, the city will first partner
with Cincinnati Cooks, Cincinnati Works and Solid Opportunities for
Advancement and Retention (SOAR) to provide more job training
opportunities. Participants who graduate from those programs can then
apply to the Transitional Jobs Program, which provides short-term,
part-time work opportunities to people as they look for long-term,
full-time jobs.The initiative will begin as a pilot program for the first two years,
but it could eventually expand with more partnerships and job training
opportunities, according to Cranley.If successfully carried out, Cranley’s proposals could help break the long-term unemployment trends that keep so many Americans jobless in the first place.In one study, Rand Ghayad of Northeastern University sent
out 4,800 fake resumes for 600 job openings. Ghayad found people who had
been out of work for six months or more very rarely got called back, even in comparison to applicants without work experience who were unemployed for shorter periods of time.In other words, diminishing the discrimination on the employer’s side or ongoing joblessness on the potential employee’s side could be enough to land more people in jobs.A proper solution to the issue could also go a long way to picking up the nation’s sluggish job market. By the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ estimate,
nearly 38 percent of the unemployed in December had been unemployed for
27 weeks or longer — the highest rate in six decades. In comparison, the
rate was below 20 percent prior to the recession.For Cranley, the initiatives also present an opportunity to address Cincinnati’s abhorrent poverty rates by giving people a chance to obtain better-paying jobs.“In the end, we want a city that isn’t just good for
future residents,” Cranley says, referencing the economic momentum in
Over-the-Rhine, downtown and uptown that might benefit future
Cincinnatians. “We need a city solution that grows the capacity and
builds the opportunities for residents who are already here and families
that are already dealing with poverty.”
by German Lopez
Obama lays out agenda, Ky. governor defends bridge tolls, reading ability falls with income
President Barack Obama delivered the State of the Union speech
yesterday, outlining an ambitious progressive agenda that will be largely ignored and rebuked by Congress. But Obama promised at least
seven major policies that he can pursue without legislators, including a
$10.10-per-hour minimum wage for federal contractors and some action on
global warming. Obama’s full speech is viewable here, and the
Republican response is available here. The Associated Press fact checked
the speech here.Ky. Gov. Steve Beshear says tolls are necessary to fund
the $2.6 billion Brent Spence Bridge project. Officials and executives
claim the bridge replacement is necessary to improve safety, traffic and
economic development through a key connector between Kentucky and Ohio,
but many Kentucky officials refuse to accept tolls to fund the new
bridge. But without federal funding to pay for the entire project,
leading Ohio and Kentucky officials say they have no other option.There is a 32-point achievement gap in reading between
Ohio’s lower-income and higher-income fourth-graders, with higher-income
students coming out on top. The massive gap speaks to some of the
challenges brought on by income inequality as Ohio officials implement
the Third-Grade Reading Guarantee, which requires most Ohio
third-graders to test as “proficient” before they advance to the fourth
grade. Previous studies also found Ohio’s urban schools might be
unfairly evaluated and under-funded because the state doesn’t properly
account for poverty levels.Attempting to move the Hamilton County Board of Elections
offices from downtown to Mount Airy, where only one bus line runs, could provoke a lawsuit from the NAACP, Board Chairman Tim Burke, a Democrat
who opposes the move, warned in an email to county commissioners. With
the Board of Elections split along party lines on the issue, the final
decision to move or not to move could come down to county commissioners
or Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted. CityBeat covered the issue in further detail here.Greater Cincinnati added 6,600 jobs between December and December 2012.Temperatures could hit the 30s and 40s this weekend, offering a reprieve to the extreme cold.Ohio’s auditor of state found a “top-down culture of data
manipulation and employee intimidation” at Columbus City School
District.Cincinnati-based Kroger plans to add 227 stores with its acquisition of Harris Teeter.The University of Cincinnati expects to demolish its
Campus Services Building at Reading Road and Lincoln Avenue — formerly a
Sears department store — this summer.A Republican congressman from New York City physically threatened a reporter after an interview.Birmingham, Ala., really can’t handle snow.A lawsuit alleges NASA is failing to investigate alien life.Follow CityBeat on Twitter:• Main: @CityBeatCincy • News: @CityBeat_News • Music: @CityBeatMusic • German Lopez: @germanrlopez
Redistricting helped the GOP win the House, and it almost caused the fiscal cliff
0 Comments · Thursday, January 3, 2013
Over the past few weeks, the political
drama in Washington, D.C., has circulated around the “fiscal cliff,” a
series of tax hikes and spending cuts set to kick in for 2013. On Jan.
1, U.S. Congress narrowly avoided the fiscal cliff. But the close call
left some wondering: Could it have been more easily prevented,
particularly through redistricting reform?
by German Lopez
State lags behind national average for enrolling young adults
In the third month of open enrollment, Obamacare failed to meet crucial demographic goals for young adults in Ohio and
across the nation.
Prior to the launch of HealthCare.gov, the Obama
administration said it needs to enroll about 2.7 million young adults
out of 7 million projected enrollees — nearly 39 percent of all signups —
for the law to succeed.The reasoning: Because young adults tend to be healthier,
they can keep premiums down as sicker, older people claim health
insurance after the law opens up the health insurance market to more Americans.But the numbers released by the U.S. Department of Health
and Human Services Monday — the first time the agency provided
demographic information — show the law missing the target both
nationally and in Ohio.Roughly 19 percent of nearly 40,000 Ohioans who signed up for Obamacare
were young adults between the ages of 18 and 34, according to the
report. Not only does that fall below the 39 percent goal, but it also
lags behind the national average of 24 percent.In defense of the demographic numbers, HHS Secretary
Kathleen Sebelius wrote in a blog post Monday that enrollments are
demographically on pace with the 2007 experience of Massachusett, where state officials implemented health care reforms and systems similar to
Obamacare through Romneycare.Indeed, a report from The New Republic found just
22.6 percent of enrollees through the third month of Romneycare were young adults. That number rose to 31.7
percent by the end of the law’s first year.If Obamacare ends up at Massachusetts’ year-end rate, it will still
fall behind goals established by the White House. Still, Obamacare would be in
a considerably better place than it finds itself today.
The disappointing demographic figure comes after months of
technical issues snared HealthCare.gov’s launch. Most of the issues
were fixed in December, which allowed Obamacare to report considerably
better enrollment numbers by the end of the year.
But the enrollment numbers — nearly 2.2 million selected a
plan between Oct. 1 to Dec. 28 — still fall below the administration’s
projections to enroll 3.3 million by the end of December.It’s also unclear how many of those signing up for
Obamacare actually paid for their first premium, which is the final step to becoming enrolled in a health
Given how Romneycare worked out in Massachusetts, it’s
possible signups for Obamacare could pick up before open enrollment
closes at the end of March. Based on previous statements from the White
House, Obamacare’s success could depend on it.
0 Comments · Wednesday, September 4, 2013
The Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”)
will lead to an increase in Ohio’s raw health care premiums, but the
increase will be more than offset by the law’s tax credits.
by German Lopez
Individuals’ premiums will rise, but tax credits will more than make up for the increase
The Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) will lead to an
increase in Ohio’s raw health care premiums, but the increase will be
more than offset by the law’s tax credits, according to an Aug. 29 study from the RAND Corporation, a reputable think tank.
Specifically, health care premiums will rise to an average
of $5,312 under Obamacare in 2016. Without the law, premiums would
reach an average of $3,973 that year.
But when Obamacare’s tax credits are plugged in, the
average Ohio individual will only pay a premium of $3,131 — $842 less
than an individual Ohioan would pay without the law.
The tax credits will be available to individuals between 100 percent ($11,490 in annual income) and 400 percent of the federal poverty level ($45,960 in annual income). The subsidies will be smaller for
higher income levels, and the raw premium will vary depending on the insurance plan, so the premium and subsidy numbers don’t apply perfectly across the board.
The numbers also only apply to Ohioans in the individual
health insurance market. Under Obamacare, individuals will be able to
enroll for health insurance through an online marketplace. The majority of Americans who get health insurance through their
employers or public programs fall under different rules and regulations.
Obamacare will help more non-elderly Ohioans get health insurance. Without the law, 14.9 percent of
non-elderly individuals would lack insurance. With the law, only 6.2
percent will go without insurance.
RAND attributes the difference in insurance rates to tax credits, which make health insurance more affordable, and the individual
mandate, which requires certain Americans buy health insurance or pay a fine.
The numbers are good news for Obamacare, which needs a certain amount of young adults to enroll to avoid causing health care costs to skyrocket. Federal officials
say they expect to enroll 7 million people through individual
marketplaces, but 2.7 million must be young adults. That’s because
young adults tend to be healthier, which will help balance out sicker, older
people flowing into health care plans.
The online marketplaces are supposed to open enrollment on Oct. 1. The actual plans will go into effect on Jan. 1.
by German Lopez
Posted In: News
at 03:50 PM | Permalink
Food stamp program losing temporary funding boost
With a temporary boost to the federal food stamp program
coming to an end this November, more than 1.8 million Ohioans — 16 percent of the state’s population — will receive significantly less food aid, according to an Aug. 2
report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP).
The report calculates that the cut is the equivalent to
taking away 21 meals per month for a family of four. After the cut,
the food stamp program will provide each person with less than $1.40 per meal,
according to CBPP’s calculations.
Citing research from the USDA that shows many low-income
families still fail to meet basic standards for food security, CBPP says
the cuts will hit families that arguably need more, not less, help:
“Given this research and the growing awareness of the inadequacy of the
current SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefit
allotments, we can reasonably assume that a reduction in SNAP benefit
levels of this size will significantly increase the number of poor
households that have difficulty affording adequate food this fall.”
Although the federal food stamp program has been cut
before, it’s never been cut to this extent, according to CBPP. “There
have been some cuts in specific states, but these cuts have not
typically been as large or affected as many people as what will occur
this November,” the report reads.
The reductions could also have a broader economic impact:
Every $1 increase in food aid generates about $1.70 in economic
activity, according to progressive think tank Policy Matters Ohio.
“Ohio’s foodbanks and hunger charities cannot respond to
increasing hunger on their own,” said Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive
director of the Ohio Association of Foodbanks, in a statement released
by Policy Matters. “SNAP takes Ohioans out of our food pantry lines and
puts them into grocery store checkout lines. It provides supplemental
food to the most vulnerable among us. Now is not the time to further
reduce this already modest assistance to struggling families.”
About 48 percent of Cincinnati children are in poverty, according to a 2011 study from the National Center for Children in Poverty. Despite that, city funding to human services that benefits low-income families has been cut throughout the past decade. CityBeat covered that issue in greater detail here.
The cut to the federal food stamp program kicks in
automatically in November instead of the original April 2014 sunset date
as a result of laws passed in 2010 by President Barack Obama and
Congress. Obama and congressional Democrats are now urging legislation
that would remedy the situation, but it’s unlikely anything will pass
the gridlocked Congress.
Republicans are preparing a bill that would further cut
the food stamp program, which they see as too generous and expensive.
From Fox News:
“Reps. Marlin Stutzman of Indiana and Kristi Noem of South Dakota, two
Republicans who helped design the bill, said the legislation would find
the savings by tightening eligibility standards and imposing new work
requirements. It would also likely try to reduce the rolls by requiring
drug testing and barring convicted murderers, rapists and pedophiles
from receiving food stamps.”
0 Comments · Wednesday, June 26, 2013
The President confuses British chancellor with his favorite R&B singer, Macklemore & Ryan
Lewis unaware of Goodwill's latest "Thrift Shop"-jacking marketing campaign and Jay-Z will have to wait until real people buy his new album before it can become a million-seller.
Drones to deliver beer at music fest, Jay-Z gets a presidential diss and Ghost B.C. release cheeky box-set
0 Comments · Wednesday, May 1, 2013
A South African music festival announced new "beer drone technology," whereby fans order by phone and have their order dropped from a drone above, will debut at August event. Plus, Jay-Z gets a mini-roast from the President at the White House Correspondents' Dinner and Swedish Doom Metal band Ghost B.C. treats fans to a sacrilicious new box set, complete with band-branded sex toys.
by German Lopez
Posted In: Economy
at 04:00 PM | Permalink
Cuts affecting education, housing, environment
Policy Matters Ohio released a report
Monday that gives a hint of how federal sequestration, a series of
across-the-board federal budget cuts that kicked in March 1, will affect
Ohio. The impact of sequestration is already being felt in various areas, including
education, housing and the environment.
In Cincinnati, the Cincinnati-Hamilton County Community
Action Agency plans to carry out $1 million in cuts by dropping 200 kids
from the Head Start program, which helps low-income families get their
children into preschool and other early education programs.
Cuts will be spread out all around the state, leading to
cuts in tax incentives for renewable energy and energy efficiency,
reduced research programs at major universities and the elimination of
military jet flyovers at certain events.
Wendy Patton, a senior project director at Policy Matters, says the cuts are only the beginning.
“We’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg now,” Patton
says, citing cuts in Chillicothe that will force the Chillicothe
Metropolitan Housing Authority to serve 47 less families through the
housing voucher program. “We will see this kind of information come out
across Ohio’s 88 counties as the months roll by.”
In February, the White House outlined how sequestration
cuts will affect Ohio in its efforts to convince Congress to stop the
cuts. The White House estimated about 26,000 civilian defense department
employees would have to be furloughed, nearly $6.9 million in funding
to clean air and water would have to be cut and 350 teacher and aide
jobs would be put at risk, among other cuts.
Even the unemployed will be hurt through cuts to
unemployment insurance benefits — bad news in an
already weak economy. In Ohio, about $5.3 million in federal grant money
going toward unemployment insurance will be cut in a way that particularly affects the long-term unemployed, according to Pew Charitable Trusts.
“We already have a problem with the long-term unemployed,”
says Zach Schiller, research director at Policy Matters. “This just
makes it worse for these folks.”An analysis from The Washington Post found employers often discriminate against anyone who has been unemployed for a considerable time during the hiring process.