Welcome to the 1%’s America in 2011!
The following information should make every American feel outraged. I know I do.
Yesterday was Veterans Day, a day to honor the men and women serving in the U.S. armed forces. Sadly, this year’s Veterans Day falls on the same week as the release of a new study showing that veterans not only make up a disproportionate percentage of the homeless population, but also stay homeless for longer. In fact, “on average, veterans were homeless for 5.7 years while others reported that they were homeless for 3.9 years.”
The Center for American Progress has put together this list showing the unfortunate facts behind veterans’ homelessness, illustrating the struggle that the men and women of the armed forces face when they return home:
50 percent: Rate at which veterans are more likely than other Americans to become homeless. The Obama administration has set a goal of ending veteran homelessness by 2015.
About 75,000: Number of veterans who are homeless on any given night, according to estimates from the Veterans Administration.
About 20,000: Number of veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who were homeless in the past five years according to the Veterans Administration.
5.5 percent: Percentage of homeless vets who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan in the overall homeless population, according to the Veterans Administration.
This Veteran’s Day, spare a though for those vets who served their country and yet still spend the night out on the streets. See here for more numbers illustrating “the challenges that confront our service members and veterans before, during, and after deployments, from combat stress injuries to unemployment.”
The top quotes in politics …
“He decided to provide her with his idea of a stimulus package.” — AttorneyGloria Allred talking about Herman Cain and a woman accusing him of sexual harassment.
“I don’t even know who this lady is.” — Republican presidential candidateHerman Cain denying any recollection of meeting that woman.
“It was the perfect thing to do.” — GOP White House hopeful Newt Gingrich telling CNN’s Piers Morgan about his Mediterranean cruise earlier this year.
“Freedom isn’t free.” — Rep. Michele Bachmann quoting “Team America” during Wednesday’s debate.
“Oops.” — Texas Gov. Rick Perry acknowledging a big flub during the debate.
“You know I’m not going to say Lloyd Christmas from ‘Dumb and Dumber.’ But that does come to mind.” — Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman telling ABC News which actor should play him in a movie.
“We didn’t hear about it in the previous Congress because ‘Princess Nancy’ sent to it committee.” — Cain mentioning his nickname for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
“I was wrong—see that didn’t hurt too bad.” — Former President Bill Clinton correcting part of his newly released book.
“I need more coffee.” — Congressman Joe Walsh requesting a refill after screaming at a few constituents.
Here’s what happened this week on WhiteHouse.gov:
Jobs for Veterans: President Obama on Monday announced the launch of a suite of new tools designed to help our veterans transition more easily into the workforce. The Veterans Job Bank, which will help put veterans in contact with companies that appreciate their skills and are eager to hire them, has more than 550,000 job postings from military-friendly employers and is continuing to grow. On Thursday, the First Lady joined the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to announce new private sector commitments to hire 100,000 veterans and military spouses by 2014. Later that day the Senate approved the Wounded Warrior and Returning Heroes tax credits, provisions of the American Jobs Act which will offer businesses a $9,600 tax credit for hiring disabled veterans and create additional incentives for employers who hire veterans who have spent four weeks or more out of work.
Honoring our Veterans: Friday morning President Obama honored the millions of Americans who have served in our nation’s military by laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. In his speech, the President highlighted the end to the war in Iraq and called for all Americans to support our veterans. “So on this Veterans Day, let us commit ourselves to keep making sure that our veterans receive the care and benefits that they have earned; the opportunity they defend and deserve; and above all, let us welcome them home as what they are — an integral, essential part of our American family.”
Head Start: President Obama announced historic reforms to the Head Start program that will require all Head Start grantees that fail to meet a new set of rigorous quality benchmarks to compete for continued federal funding. These changes are designed to ensure that all children in Head Start are attending top-notch programs that will help them reach their full potential.
Saving You Money: President Obama signed an Executive Order telling Federal agencies to cut their spending on travel, printing, and IT by 20 percent, which will save billions of dollars. This initiative is only one part of the administration-wide Campaign to Cut Waste, headed by Vice President Joe Biden that promises to eliminate government waste, save taxpayer dollars and make government work more efficiently.
Actually I cringe at the thought of so many people around the world watching the “gang of eight idiots” discussing foreign policy. The one exception might be John Huntsman former U.S. Ambassador in China.
I wonder what kind of world do we live in where Huntsman is at the very bottom of the polls and has remained there throughout the start of the 2012 GOP campaign? Everyone else has at some point been in the lead, except Rick Santorum (deservedly so) and Huntsman.
Saturday night’s Republican presidential debate will, at least in theory, require the candidates to explain their view of America’s role in the world. With its focus on national security and foreign policy, the CBS/National Journal debate will force the field to talk about something they’ve, for the most part, spent the campaign avoiding — a coherent vision for American foreign policy.
But with the economy overshadowing all else and most of the GOP field — aside from former Ambassador Jon Huntsman — bereft of significant experience in foreign affairs, expect frequent pivots back to jobs and the unemployment rate.
Those pressures aren’t the only forces driving the presidential candidates to look inward, rather than beyond American shores: The GOP itself is struggling to reconcile the views of the party’s hawkish wing with the more isolationist-oriented tea party wing.
Even within those confines, there are some nations and foreign policy issues that are likely to receive extended treatment in Saturday’s s debate in South Carolina. Here is POLITICO’s list of 11 countries to watch:
Italy and Greece
The deeply-in-debt Mediterranean nations are the epicenter of Europe’s financial problems and are used as cautionary tales by Republican candidates warning about the dangers of unchecked federal government spending.
Look for candidates to mention those nations, currently in the headlines as fiscal basket cases, as worst-case scenarios in the event America fails to reduce the nation’s ballooning deficit and reform entitlement spending.
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