Tag Archives: Budget

Budget Implications to Meals on Wheels

Updated below.

In short – virtually none.

The budget proposal Trump delivered did call for a reduction in the money that eventually makes its way to Meals on Wheels.

Here is the impact in Wake County:

A spokesperson for the administration said federal dollars only account for about 3 percent of funding for Meals on Wheels.

“For every dollar in public funding that we get from the federal, state and county government, we do raise about $2,” said Alan Winstead with Wake Meals on Wheels.

I get the idea that a ‘compassionate society’ doesn’t neglect the most at risk and vulnerable.  And I agree that a society Ought care for its own.   However, the nobility earned by such a sentiment is lost when such care is obtained by force.

Much better this:

Winstead said even though the official impact of the budget cuts on Meals on Wheels is unclear, they are using the time to advocate and raise money for the program.


All of this doesn’t even mention the staggering fact that an organization can’t increase efficiency by 3%.

Living On A Budget

Not quite living on $31.50, but this is a neat article describing life on $50 a week:

College, unemployment, or an unexpected change in your life situation can mean that a major cut in spending is required as you plan how to survive from week to week. We found that it’s possible to take care of the essentials, with a dollop of comfort thrown in, for less than $50 a week by shopping at the local dollar store.

Sure, the dollar store is a pit stop for cheap snacks, cooking supplies, toys, and other small items, but it’s also a source for food at one very low price. And yes, there may be a stigma attached to dollar store shopping for all your needs, but can you afford to be snobby at a time like this?

Our suggested menus and shopping list below presume you have some staples on hand, such as mayonnaise and condiments like pickles. Remember, inventory will vary at every dollar store:

Suggest Grocery List:

1 box cereal — $1
1 6-ct pack oatmeal — $1
1 bag coffee — $1
1 loaf bread — $1
1 box pancake mix — $1
1 bottle imitation maple syrup — $1
1 jar jelly — $1
1 jar peanut butter — $1
1 12-ct. carton eggs — $1
1/2 gallon shelf-stable milk/1 gallon fresh milk — $1
1 32-oz. jar apple juice — $1
1 2-ct. pack pre-made pizza crusts — $1
1 jar pizza sauce — $1
1 container grated Parmesan cheese — $1
2 boxes Hamburger Helper — $2
1 bag pasta — $1
2 cans meat sauce — $2
5 5-oz. cans tuna — $5
1 box instant oatmeal — $1
3 1-lb. cans soup — $3
4 10-oz. cans vegetables — $4
1 box crackers — $1
1 pastry crust — $1
1 box New Orleans-style rice — $1
1 can beans — $1
1 box dehydrated mashed potatoes — $1
2 packages frozen chicken — $2
1 pack Country Time Iced Tea Mix — $1
1 bag potato chips — $1
1 6-ct box granola bars — $1
1 bottle barbecue sauce — $1
Total: $43

Not bad.  Combined with my list and I’ll bet it’s even less expensive.

Eating Like A College Student – My Take

Food Stamps

About two weeks ago I posted on an attempt to eat on an average allotment of food stamp distribution.  My analysis:

I’m sure I could eat better on less than Mr. Ferguson.

This combined with nickgb’s critique of Ferguson:

…my combined total was $45.88, well over the challenge amount.  So, either Safeway has a 66% markup over Dollar Tree’s prices, or Ferguson is being deceptive with the items he bought, or he’s lying.  We report, you decide.

And his update:

This is really not a healthy diet for an adult, and that should tell you something about SNAP benefits.  It’s disturbing that Ferguson thinks that his canned meat diet shows that benefits are too high.

I thought I would see how I could do in living up to my bragging.

First breakfast.

So, in life I don’t eat breakfast, but I get that most people do.  So I’ll stipulate to breakfast.  Given that breakfast, when I do eat it, is highly repetative I’m going with this:



At $0.50 a day that comes to $3.50 a week.  And adding a slice or two of toast:


The total for breakfast is $2.69 + $3.50 = $6.19.

Now lunch.

I’m going to use a combination of sandwiches and noodles for this.  First the sandwiches.  I already have the bread, so that’s free.  I’ll eat peanut butter sandwiches two times a week.  Adding the peanut butter:

Peanut Butter

I’m up to $9.80.  5 days to go.

The rest of the work week I’m going to go Asian – Raman:


And I’ll add broccoli:


The total for three lunches is $1.17 / 6 = $0.20 per day or $0.60 for the week for the noodles and the broccoli is $0.75 a day.  Per day total is $0.95 for a 3 day total of $2.85.

I have to buy lunch now for Saturday and Sunday.

On Saturday, I’ll go small and have a frozen meal:

Chicken Fried Chicken

That’s a buck and a quarter.  Add an apple:


Which is 2 per pound, $0.70 per apple, and you get a Saturday lunch for $1.95.

Sunday lunch comes later.

Now for dinner.

I have 7 to buy.  First two:


That’s right – frozen pizza.  I eat half a pizza a sitting.  I can buy a deluxe pizza for 3 bucks.  That comes to $1.50 a night.

Next, beans and rice.  Not the nasty kind out of a can, but the kind you make yourself.



And then Beans:


Together that’s $7.62.  But it counts for two meals -at least- so I charge $3.80 per meal.

Next comes a pasta dinner.  The noodles:


And the sauce:


That’s $3.28 for the both and I’ll eat pasta twice.  However, the sale is on the sauce so I get to save $0.95.  I’ll take it.  Total cost for my two pasta dinners?  $2.33.

My last dinner will be steak.  I can find it for:


Combined with the rice I’ve already paid for, I have a nice steak and rice dinner.  Add a veggie if you want to, broccoli, and the whole meal comes to $8.58.

But at 1.5 pounds, I get to eat it twice.  Call it my last lunch.

That’s every meal.  My cost so far?


That’s significantly more than the $31.50 I was allocated.  What to do?

Well, I’ve noticed that my list includes items that I’m having to buy for the first time, things like peanut butter, rice and bread.  However, I’ll play by the rules and accept that I’m starting with a bare cupboard.  So, I’ll ditch the steak and exchange it for Raman but keep the broccoli.

That gets me to $26.80 plus $0.20 for the Raman and the total is a straight $27.00.

I have 4 bucks to play with.



I’ll take 4 of ’em.  Two per pound and I’ve spent $1.14.

Some carrots:


And now I’m up to $2.43.

How about some eggs:


I’m over.  If I buy the eggs, I’m at $4.71.  I’ll keep the eggs and put back 1 banana.  I did it.  I get $0.27 back for the banana and my bill sits at $4.44.

Now, I have eaten for the week and have a nice beginning for next week.  I don’t have to purchase bread, peanut butter or rice next week.  In fact, I don’t have to buy eggs or carrots either.

I’ve noticed that I didn’t purchase anything to drink.  In my real life, I do not drink milk, but do have beer and wine with my evening meals.  I recognize that this is an issue, but water for a week is not unrealistic.  Further, it has occurred to me that I didn’t include butter in my budget, something that I do have on my toast and my eggs.  So I may have further tweaks, but the point is the same.

For $31.50, I have eaten for a week AND included veggies and fruits.  Plus I have a small beginning for next week to help me out even further.

Eating Like A College Student

College Student

So, the recent “Farm Bill” is really a food stamp bill.  And the recent decision by North Carolina republicans to reduce unemployment benefits to a more rational amount is really a “War on the Poor”.

Recently, democrats have issued the “NAP” challenge.  That is, try and eat on the amount allocated through the food stamp program – $31.50 a week.

I’m pretty sure I could do it, but a republican staffer did:

Texas Republican Rep. Steve Stockman’s communications director and agriculture policy advisor, Donny Ferguson, says he has been able to eat well on $27.58 for a week, less than the $31.50 House Democrats have limited themselves to for their “SNAP Challenge.”

“I wanted to personally experience the effects of the proposed cuts to food stamps.  I didn’t plan ahead or buy strategically, I just saw the publicity stunt and made a snap decision to drive down the street and try it myself.  I put my money where my mouth is, and the proposed food stamp cuts are still quite filling,” Ferguson said of the challenge.

Stockman’s office noted that Ferguson did not use coupons, discount programs, or a shopping list, and he shopped at locations accessible via public transportation.

“Not only did I buy a week’s worth of food on what Democrats claim is too little, I have money left over.  Based on my personal experience with SNAP benefit limits we have room to cut about 12 percent more,” Ferguson said.

On his list were items that wouldn’t make mine:

  • Root beer
  • Honeycomb cereal
  • Popsicles
  • Cookies

Off the top of my head, I would have:

  • Ramen
  • Broccoli
  • Bananas
  • Raw walnuts or almonds
  • Rice
  • Eggs
  • Pasta
  • Pasta Sauce
  • Some form of salad green – probably fresh spinach

I’m sure I could eat better on less than Mr. Ferguson.

If I Were A Democrat….


I know why the democrats haven’t submitted a budget in 4 years:

Its Democratic counterpart, from Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (Wash.), raises nearly $1 trillion in new taxes, adds new stimulus spending and does not project any date at which balance will be reached.

Murray, who released details but not a full document, also axed nine years of the sequester, meaning her budget would actually not cut spending compared to the Congressional Budget Office baseline.


Why Democrats Won’t Pass A Budget

Harry Reid

It’s been years since the senate has passed a budget; we’re going on 5 now.  And if you wanted to know why that is, you have to look no further than these two articles from The Hill.

First, Paul Ryan gettin’ it done:

Ryan, the former Republican vice presidential candidate who chairs the House Budget Committee, will release his 2014 budget on Tuesday. He’s expected to outline a plan to balance the budget in 10 years.

And why does this contribute to the reasons democrats won’t pass their own budget?

Senate Democrats promised Monday to make Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) new budget a focal point of their 2014 campaigns.

Democrats argue changes to Medicare and other spending cuts outlined by Ryan will pay political dividends for their Senate candidates, who face a difficult 2014 landscape.

“The Ryan budget will be a gift that gives throughout the 2014 cycle for Democrats,” pollster Geoff Garin said on a Monday call hosted by the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee.

And now over to the article describing progress on the senate’s budget:

Senate Democrats say they will soon pass their first budget in four years, but it is proving a test.

Disputes over tax cuts, spending reductions and entitlement reform all present challenges to Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

One reason Senate Democrats did not pass a budget bill for the past four years was that they wanted to avoid unpopular votes to cut spending and hike taxes.

Leadership aides say Democrats from red states are less nervous now.

“The 2012 election showed that being in favor of revenue does not tar and feather you as a tax-and-spend liberal,” one aide said.

For the democrats, being elected to public office is the whole of the point.  There is no effort to govern or lead, only to win the next election.

Paul Ryan submits a budget and the democrats do nothing but “run against” the “gift that keeps giving.”  Yet when it comes time to pass their own budget, we get nothing because they are afraid to make the tough decisions.

Not surprising really.

Taxes: The Left Wins – I Lose

I have been waging a continuous war on taxes and increasing them.  I personally think that the best way to cause our elected officials to reduce the size of government is to reduce the amount of money we give ’em.  Those on the left feel that the best way to balance the budget is to INCREASE taxes.  Now,  unless they are pure Marxists who simply will not accept any other form of economic structure than that of transferring money from the wealthy to the poor, what my friends are saying is that we need to increase taxes to increase REVENUE.

The more money IN, the better off the budget/deficit will be.

Sadly, for the second year in a row and for the last 24 out of 30 years, the left has succeeded in growing revenue.  In 2011 the United States Federal government will have taken in $2.3035 trillion.  This represents a 6.51% increase year over year 2010.

If I’m lucky I can achieve my goal of shrinking government in 2012 but it doesn’t look good.  The Tax Policy Center is calling for a 2012 tax receipt increase of  $165.1 billion in 2012.  And it only looks to get worse year over year after that.


Lessons From South America: Chile, Argentina and Venezuela

Some time ago I stumbled on the CATO Institute’s Dan Mitchell.  He has an awesome video on how to balance the budget; a concept I’ve taken a liking to:

He also has his own blog that he regularly contributes to.  The other day he referenced a great post of his where he links economic freedom to prosperity:

What’s responsible for the turn-around in each of these nation’s welfare?

As Mr. Mitchell says:

— Chile’s score jumped from 5.6 in 1980 to 8.0 in 2008, and the country now ranks as the world’s 4th-freest economy (ahead of the United States!).

— Argentina’s ranking has improved a bit, rising from 4.4 to 6.0 between 1980 and 2008, but that still only puts them in 94th-place in the world rankings.

— Venezuela, by contrast, is embarrassingly bad. The nation’s score has dropped from 6.3 to 4.4, and its ranking has plunged from 22nd-place in 1980 to 121st-place in 2006.

Chile was the poorest and is now the most wealthy of the three.  Venezuela has seen just the reverse.


The Debt Limit, Budget, Deficit and Debt: Update

So, yesterday I posted about a possible solution to the deficit and the debt. In those plans I accommodated those on the right who insist on a plan that includes no new revenues due to tax increases.  Further, I accommodated those on the left who insist on a plan that doesn’t cut; in fact my plan GROWS government each and every single year.

As I ended my analysis I demonstrated a method by which both of those targets were met AND we backed away from the debt limit that we are struggling with today.  The solution began to reduce the the deficit in year 1.  And it balanced the budget in year 19.  It’s the perfect trifecta.

But what if we can do better?  What if we can reduce the amount of time in which we are free of the deficit?

I think we can:

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The Debt Limit, Budget, Deficit and Debt: Framing the Picture

The talk of the town is the debt limit.  Raise it or not raise it; and what it would take TO raise it.

Reasonable people can agree on a couple of things:

  1. We are in debt and it’s getting worse.
  2. To balance the budget, there needs to be a combination of an increase in revenue and a decrease in spending.

I honestly feel that if you were to ask this question, hidden in such a way as to bypass the normal political partisanship, every single American would agree.  If the checking account is overdrawn, a second job becomes something to consider and a review of the household spending becomes a priority.

But, how do we agree on such a combination when the discussion changes from the household budget to the federal budget?  How can we get folks who demand that we raises taxes together with folks who demand we don’t?  How do we get people who refuse to cut spending to shake hands with those who feel we HAVE to cut spending?

I propose that we do it by doing neither.


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