Friday, July 22, 2011

Patt Morrison for Monday, July 25, 2011


Monday, July 25, 2011

1-3 p.m.






1:06 – 1:30





1:30 - 1:58:30

Federal budget negotiations threaten social safety nets while need for food stamps rises in California

Many Americans have had to tighten their belts in the wake of the recession, but some have done so more painfully than others—especially people who are classified as “food insecure,” or are unable to reliably put healthy food on the table for themselves and their families. You might assume that the majority of this group relies on food stamps, but there you would be wrong—regarding California residents, at least. In fact, the Golden State has the 2nd lowest food stamp rate in the nation after Wyoming, with about 10% of its population—that’s 3.7 million people—receiving federal food benefits. About 50% of recipients are children, 8% are seniors, and the average family participating in the program has only about $101 worth of savings or valuables. Furthermore, participating households’ incomes must be less than 130% of the poverty level. Though the rates of those suspected to be going hungry are on the rise, curiously only about 50% of those in California eligible for food stamps participated in the program as of 2008, the most recent year for which federal figures are available, a figure lower than the national average of 66%. In L.A. County alone, more than 1.7 million people were designated food insecure in 2009, leading to city initiatives aimed at raising awareness and addressing hunger in local communities. The California Department of Social Services has also renamed the food stamps program “CalFresh,” hoping to remove its old stigma. Though these efforts have had some impact on local participation, many of the needy remain wary of the food stamps program. The long lines and complex documentation required for registration at welfare offices are powerful enough deterrents, but social embarrassment for the newly unemployed and deportation worries for immigrants also may contribute to low involvement. Republicans in the House recently wrote a budget outline for 2012 in which they proposed cutting 1/5th of the food stamps program’s funding by 2015, adding to the worries of many California counties receiving millions of dollars less than what they need to adequately administer and staff their branches of the program. Will the iconic food stamps program take a beating once a debt ceiling deal is hammered out by Congress? And can L.A. do more to ensure that Angelenos are fed?



Jean Ross, executive director, California Budget Project



Philip Browning, director, Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services





2:06 – 2:30

The history of American debt: when did we first borrow, how did it get so out of control?

It all started with $75 million in loans made to the new United States of America during the revolutionary war, and thus began the first American budget deficit.  We managed to pay it back rather quickly and enjoyed several years of budget surpluses but the War of 1812 forced borrowing and once again we were back in debt—big wars tied to big deficits would be a recurring theme over the next 200 years.  There’s a lot of blame thrown around these days, as Congressional leaders and President Obama struggle to reach a deal on raising the debt ceiling, to enable more borrowing, and chip away at a annual budget deficit that is over $14.5 trillion.  But the tough truth is that deficits and debt are bipartisan phenomena to which almost every president, no matter their party or ideological affiliation, has contributed.  The Civil War pushed the national debt into the unheard of $3 billion range; after World War I public debt was up to $25.5 billion; the New Deal and World War II resulted in one of the first sizable explosions in debt, up to $260 billion by 1950.  Throw in LBJ’s Grand Society, the Vietnam War, the defense build up against the Soviet Union, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, sweeping tax cuts and a brutal recession, and we find ourselves mired in this current mess.


So break out the calculators and the history books as we trace the growth of American debt, which has its roots in the very birth of the country.  As Obama and Boehner, Democrats and Republicans level blame at each other for getting us into deep deficits and not doing enough to get us out, the truth is there’s 235 years worth of blame to pass around to everyone.




David Walker, chief executive officer of the Comeback America Initiative; former Comptroller General of the U.S. & director of the Government Accountability Office in the George W. Bush administration


Robert Dallek, presidential historian and author of several presidential biographies, including a two-volume biography of Lyndon B. Johnson; his most recent book is "The Lost Peace: Leadership in a Time of Horror and Hope, 1945-1953."


Douglas Brinkley, professor of history and fellow with the James Baker, III, Institute for Public Policy at Rice University; editor of “The Reagan Diaries” and most recently published a book on Theodore Roosevelt called “The Wilderness Warrior”


David Kennedy, professor of history, emeritus, at Stanford University; he is the author of "Freedom From Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945," which won a Pulitzer prize.





2:30 – 2:58:30
Too posh to push: Are increased C-sections and induced labors a problem or a right?
Changes are developing in the world of obstetrics and gynaecology (OBGYN)—and it’s not just within pregnant bellies. More and more pregnant women are looking for more convenience and less pain in their deliveries. Instead of having their baby when their baby is ready to come out, women are having their babies when they want the babies out. Studies have found that from 1990 to 2006, the rate of induced labors more than doubled—in large part due to “on-demand” induced labors. A full-term pregnancy lasts 40 weeks but induced labors are being done on-demand, meaning out of convenience rather than medical necessity, as early as 37 weeks. Sometimes it’s scheduling: the doctor the mother wants is only available when the baby is 38 weeks old, the mother’s mother can only be in town to help when the baby is 37 weeks, the father of the baby has a business trip when the baby is full-term. Other times, it’s a decision to opt out of the last couple weeks of a pregnancy because they are the most uncomfortable and debilitating. One consequence of increased on-demand induced labors has been overcrowded incubators in neonatal intensive care units. Before 40 weeks, babies are still in a critical phase of developing their brain, heart, lungs, and immune system, and these processes are jeopardized outside the womb—sometimes even resulting in infant death.

On top of increased induced labors, the rate of cesarean deliveries continues to rise. Statistics show that between 2002 and 2009, the number of C-sections rose from 27% to 34%. The practice of scheduling C-sections out of convenience has gained some popularity and acceptance as celebrities such as Kate Hudson, who had a C-section when doctors told her she would have a long labor, and Posh spice Victoria Beckham, who recently had her fourth scheduled C-section. Some doctors believe that C-sections should only be conducted when medically necessary. Many doctors believe that, at the very least, discretion should applied when granting C-sections. Further increasing the rate of C-sections is the fact that after having a C-section, a VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean) is risky (one of the risks is bursting the healed abdominal incision). In response to an increase in “convenient” pregnancies, several doctors, led by the nonprofit The March of Dimes, have joined in a national campaign called “Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait.” Should women be given full control to make their own decisions about their pregnancy? Or do hospitals need to put regulations in place so that women who are “too posh to push” don’t put their babies—and themselves—at risk?

Robbie Davis-Floyd, PhD, senior research fellow, Dept. of Anthropology, University of Texas Austin; fellow, Society for Applied Anthropology; author of Birth as an American Rite of Passage

Richard Waldman, OBGYN, prior president of American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)


Jonathan Serviss
Senior Producer, Patt Morrison
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