My friend and U.S. Senate candidate Dan Ahlers got an op-ed in that Sioux Falls paper over the Christmas break decrying the Trump Administration’s counterproductive and un-Christian cuts in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The SDGOP mouthpiece blog complained that that Sioux Falls failed to identify the critic of Republican policy as a Democratic candidate, and that Sioux Falls paper responded not by adding that identification but by deleting Ahlers’s article.
Funny: that Sioux Falls paper and many others publish the op-eds of Ahlers’s Republican opponent, Republican Senator Mike Rounds, pretty much every week:
I understand that being a Senator has its privileges, but do newspapers really want to get in the business of being uncritical mouthpieces of the regime like Dakota War College, or do they want to offer the public the pronouncements of our elected officials alongside analysis and criticism from those seeking office so the public may evaluate the opposing arguments and candidates for themselves?
If it wants to live up to its role as a checking and balancing Fourth Estate, the press should pair the propagandistic proclamations of people in power with the observations of opponents.
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Oh yeah, if you’re interested, here’s the Ahlers op-ed that that Sioux Falls paper has deleted from its website:
Do The Right Thing. Feed Everyone.
Last week President Trump announced changes to the SNAP (food stamp) program that would cut funding by 4.2B over the next 5 years. It’s an old story. The rationale by opponents to these programs perpetuate the notion that people on assistance are freeloaders. As a state legislator, I have heard this argument many times. So much that I admittedly dismissed the article and chose not to comment. That changed a couple days ago while I was substitute teaching in the 8th grade. A student came up to me and said his dad was happy that President Trump was cutting funding to programs for freeloaders living off the government. I simply looked at the young man and said, “When I was a couple years younger than you, I benefited from of one of those government programs. Do I look like a freeloader to you?” My response caught him off guard, but he did respond, no. I went on to explain to him there will always be people that take advantage of programs, poor and rich alike. But as human beings, we have an obligation to help those in society who are most vulnerable. It is also clear that more people need to be educated on how these programs work and who really benefits.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is designed to limit hunger and the health consequences associated with malnutrition. President Trump’s proposed cuts will restrict states with higher unemployment levels, cap deductions for utility allowances and eliminate automatic enrollment. These changes will impact 3.7 million Americans. The administration says that these changes are aimed at able bodied workers in states with higher unemployment.
There are many reasons for high unemployment. Typically, it is caused by economic downturns, loss of an industry or a shift in the workforce and the lack of education to meet these needs. There are many unfilled jobs in this country, but there also is a lack of skilled workers to fill them. If you don’t have the financial resources for food, how can you afford the educational training to switch careers? If anything this problem requires more assistance from government and private industry to find a solution. This change targets approximately 755,000 workers. Cutting their SNAP benefits will only increase their food insecurity. It is estimated each individual that suffers from hunger sees an additional $2,000 annually in medical costs. These are medical costs that are passed down to the rest of us and is one of the factors that drives our high medical costs. Capping utility assistance will force millions of Americans to choose between housing and food, which leads to more food insecurity.
The final change in automatic enrollment is not meant to solve a problem, but to ignore it. Automatic enrollment allows a person to fill out their information once instead of multiple times for each assistance program. In government it is not a secret that the more difficult you make a process, the less likely people will participate. As a past president of our before and after school program, I saw this problem first hand. We had families that would experience hard times and fall behind on tuition. We offered reduced and free tuition to families in need. But in order to validate need, we needed verification from an assistance plan. Many families chose not to go through that process partly because it’s complicated and for others it’s quite embarrassing. Eventually, many chose to leave their kids at home alone. Applying for SNAP, Medicaid and other assistance programs is a lengthy paper-driven process. Automatic enrollment streamlines the process for both the applicant and the government agency. Meaning it actually reduces cost.
In South Dakota, almost half of the SNAP recipients are children. Others are elderly and disabled. Most of the “able bodied” adults must meet work requirements. Those that receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) also have work requirements and are limited to 48 months of benefits for an entire lifetime. Of the 5,877 recipients in October of this year, 5,376 are children. Those receiving Medicaid benefits in South Dakota share in the expense of generic and non-generic prescriptions, non- emergency visits, non-emergency dental services, inpatient hospital care and some medical equipment. Of the approximate 118,000 receiving Medicaid in South Dakota, nearly 81,000 are children. Unfortunately, 50% of children born in South Dakota will receive CHIP or Medicaid benefits during their first year of life. Only 12,750 are low income adults. The rest are pregnant women, elderly and people with disabilities.
All three of these programs have some kind of existing requirements of the recipient. Whether it is a work requirement or a minimum monetary obligation for medical services, these programs do not promote freeloading. In fact, South Dakota leads the nation in people working multiple jobs. It’s our low wages in South Dakota that leads to more dependency on social programs. The federal government covers the majority of our state’s Medicaid costs because South Dakota wages are so low.
If we want less reliance on these programs, we must reform the programs so people can work their way off assistance. Programs like SNAP and Medicaid use a poverty chart to determine whether or not you qualify for services. If you make $1 over, you lose your benefits. I had a single parent come into my business asking for help. She had been working part-time and was offered a full-time position by her employer. If she took the job, she would lose Medicaid coverage for her children and the new position didn’t pay enough to cover health care costs. Essentially, by taking this full-time position she would make less money. No parent should have to choose between bettering their economic situation and healthcare for their children. We need social programs that work on a step scale, so as you make more, you contribute more.
When we cut programs like SNAP, TANF, and Medicaid, the vast majority of beneficiaries are not “able bodied” people that are living off the system. Most of those that are “able bodied” adults are working or contributing to their services. The President’s proposed cuts will essentially take food out of the mouths of children and exacerbate the struggle of the working poor, the elderly, and people with disabilities. During this holiday season, many of us celebrate the birth of Jesus. Jesus tended to the poor and healed the sick. If we truly believe, then shouldn’t we be thankful for our blessings and share with those less fortunate? “Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for the Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God” –Proverbs 14:31. Now who can argue with that?
It’s lazy journalism to take the handouts of elected officials and print them without the normal fact-checking and countering comments. I’m not sure why newspapers publish them at all, other than they fill space that they don’t have to pay a real journalist to fill. These handouts aren’t even written by the politicians. Some staff flunky drafts them up for the official, adds a nice grinning photo of the fake author and sends it by fax or email to the paper.
I reported for a weekly paper in Rapid City, and discovered that politicians always wanted free space. It’s not just Republicans. Sen. Daschle, or at least his staff, was very insistent on getting Dashle’s mug and his staff’s writings in our little paper. Once I did a feature story on Charleen Haar, a Madison teacher who was the Republican’s sacrificial victim against Daschle one election cycle. She slung a few choice dirty snowballs at Daschle, which I put in the article. I think she called him “PAC-man” without any factual backup. I felt she showed desperation, and there was nothing factual to rebut, so I didn’t call Dashle for a response. When the feature article ran, Daschle, or probably his staff (I can’t remember), called up and reamed me and the publisher out for not contacting him for a comment. I suppose I should have, but the publisher gave him a chance to put an op-ed in the paper, and I said I would do a feature on him, if he made himself available, like Haar did. He didn’t use that space to rebut Haar, but to put some staff-written puff piece in the paper.
The thing I found out is that Haar was a nice lady who was desperate, because she wasn’t gaining any traction in her campaign, and Daschle was desperate for no reason whatsoever. My politics were definitely more toward Daschle, but I had much more sympathy for the lost cause Haar was pursuing. That’s just the kind of guy I am. I wanted to give Haar a feature article that amounted to an op-ed. That was not a great journalistic decision.
News outlets and blogs should NOT run these pieces or press releases without doing some due diligence and journalism. They can use them as an entry to a story, but not the story itself.
Cory, I’m a little miffed that you copied and pasted Ahlers’ op-ed without much comment, except I know you did it to make a point. It’s at least got a few facts that can be checked, unlike, for example, the great Rounds’ staff authored missive, “The magic of Christmas a special time.” On second thought, that one is so devoid of substance that Smiling Mike probably did have his small hands involved in that one.
I like it when Cory prints parts of politician staff’s writings and breaks them down, showing how off-base they are. For myself, I enjoy a good take down of political staff.
Cory, thanks for posting Ahlers’ op-ed. It appears accurate in setting forth actual facts and makes a ton of moral and policy sense. Removing the piece is a loss to the quality of that “Sioux Falls paper.” Maybe Trumpist editors feared that identifying Ahler’s political affiliation in the piece would engender greater public support for local Democrats since the piece was so welled written?
I try hard to live by Hanlon’s Razor, but it gets harder as each year passes during the Trumpists’ ascendancy in the Republican Party.
I thing bearcreekbat has it nailed, but the cynic in me thinks it’s necessary to go a step further. The South Dakota Republican establishment wants to create a South Dakota mainstream media that is to the right of Sean Hannity.
Don’t get me wrong, SNAP is a very important and essential federal program; and we can take pride in the fact that a South Dakotan, George McGovern, along with his Republican colleague and friend, Bob Dole, are the ones who first spearheaded this program some fifty years ago under the moniker of ‘Food Stamps;’ but if we as Democrats want to win in 2020, it is not going to be done talking about SNAP, but it might be done by talking about how in November of 2017, Rounds was working across the aisle to shore up ObamaCare by appropriately funding the insurance risk pool for health insurance providers, while the next month he voted for the Trump tax cuts – which have not stimulated the economy themselves by the way – and in so doing, voted to remove the one major enforcement mechanism of ObamaCare – that being a requirement to mandate that everyone have health insurance – and in so doing, Rounds has shown to us that he does not know if he is really for health insurance for all, or not.
“It’s our low wages in South Dakota that leads to more dependency on social programs.” Ahlers
We’ve got to support the Walton family so they each can maintain their multiBillionaire status. Thus, our tax $ goes to SNAP, Medicaid, etc, for their employees.
The Columbia School of Journalism has analyzed media and listed 10 sources that are trustworthy. Nope, DFP did not make the list. Size matters in this case. 😊
Debbo, I am having trouble accessing the site you linked. Would you mind copying and pasting the names of the ten good sources identified in the article here on DFP?
Media Matters has a harsh appraisal of the nasty and dishonest Prager U.
On closer reading of the source of the list, I see that, although Columbia’s J School is listed as one of his standards, the list is the author’s, Paul Glader. Sorry for the error.
That’s the very long URL, BCB. Here’s the list:
1. NY Times
2. Wall Street Journal
3. Washington Post
6. New Yorker
7. Wire services- AP, Reuters, Bloomberg
8. Foreign Affairs
– National Public Radio
– TIME magazine
-The Christian Science Monitor
– The Los Angeles Times (and many other regional, metropolitan daily newspapers)
– USA Today
– NBC News
– CBS News
– ABC News
Business News Sources:
– FORBES magazine
– Bloomberg BusinessWeek magazine
– Fortune magazine
– The Financial Times newspaper
There’s more information in the article about decent lefty and righty sources too.