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Breakfast Sausage: 5 stories to read today

Published by Mike Pound on .

U.S. President Barack Obama delivers a statement about the nuclear deal reached between Iran and six major world powers with Vice President Joe Biden at his side during an early morning address to the nation from the East Room of the White House in Washington, July 14, 2015. (Andrew Harnik/Reuters)U.S. President Barack Obama delivers a statement about the nuclear deal reached between Iran and six major world powers with Vice President Joe Biden at his side during an early morning address to the nation from the East Room of the White House in Washington, July 14, 2015. (Andrew Harnik/Reuters)

1) Which will turn out to be a tougher chore for President Obama, reaching a deal to monitor nuclear power in Iran or convincing Congress that the pact should be approved? Oh, right – there's a presidential campaign going on.

2) It looks more like Katie McGinty is leaning towards a run for Pat Toomey's U.S. Senate seat; she even spent a recent weekend on Martha's Vineyard meeting with the folks who run the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Worth noting: Joe Sestak, the only current Democratic candidate for the seat, skipped the Martha's Vineyard trip, although his campaign said he was invited.

3) Ms. McGinty's boss – you know him as Tom Wolf – visited the Pittsburgh area on Monday to push his budget-related agenda. And judging from his comments, as well as those from GOP spokeswoman Jennifer Kocher, there might – might – be the possibility of progress soon.

4) National Rifle Association money talks. Which is why, we're betting, that a Perry County state rep has re-introduced the sketchy legislation that allows the group to sue municipalities over gun ordinances.

5) It's apparently a dicey time to be a mayor – or a former mayor – in Pennsylvania. You know about the FBI investigations that appear to involve the mayors of Allentown and Reading; this morning, we've heard about corruption charges against Stephen Reed, Harrisburg's former mayor.

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Perry on Politics: Resurrecting the mythical welfare queen

Published by James M. Perry on .

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush answers a question from the audience during a town hall campaign stop at the VFW Post in Hudson, New Hampshire, July 8, 2015. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush answers a question from the audience during a town hall campaign stop at the VFW Post in Hudson, New Hampshire, July 8, 2015. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)

Would you believe it, the lady says. She just saw a woman at the supermarket using her food stamps to stock up on potato chips and soft drinks.

You know, curmudgeonly Americans insist, able-bodied young blacks don't look for work anymore because they can live a life of relative ease on their welfare checks.

Paul Krugman, the New York Times columnist, calls this "the laziness dogma." It was the basis, he says, "for the furious attacks (by Congress) on unemployment benefits at a time of mass unemployment and on food stamps when they provided a vital lifeline for millions of Americans. It drives claims that many, if not most, workers receiving disability payments are malingerers."

Most Republicans seeking their party's presidential nomination seem ready, even eager, to chop unemployment benefits and food stamps.

"Over half of the people on disability are either anxious or their back hurts," the smarmy Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky declared the other day.

Republicans have been grumbling about all these welfare programs since Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal. Many of them are still quietly displeased by Social Security. But it was Ronald Reagan who made the most dramatic attack on what came to be called the "welfare queen," though he didn't actually use those words in 1976.

"She has 80 names," he said, "30 addresses, 12 social Security cards and is collecting veteran's benefits on four non-existing deceased husbands. And she is collecting Social Security on her cards. She's got Medicaid, getting food stamps and she is collecting welfare on each of her names. Her tax-free income is over $150,000."

Mr. Reagan seemed to be implying that his welfare queen was not an anomaly, but that she was just an outstanding cheater in a swarm of cheaters.

The fact is, says Mr. Krugman, a Princeton University economist and author of 20 books, "Federal spending on 'income security' – food stamps, unemployment benefits, and pretty much everything you might call 'welfare' except Medicaid – has shown no upward trend as a share of (gross domestic product) ... But no matter, an epidemic of laziness is their story and they're sticking with it."

Jeb Bush didn't exactly say Americans are lazy, but he did say those of us just getting along need to work longer hours to earn more money to take care of our families (though he later seemed to be backing away).

"Let him tell that to the nurse on her feet all day or the teacher who is in that classroom or the trucker who drives all night," Hillary Clinton said Monday. "They don't need a lecture. They need a raise."

Sure, there are cheaters in our welfare system, but there are cheaters everywhere. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program -- formerly the Food Stamp Program -- served almost 50 million Americans last year, including someone now and then stocking up on chips. The average payment was $126.35 a month.

James M. Perry, a prominent veteran political reporter, contributes regular observations to post-gazette.com. Mr. Perry was the chief political correspondent of The Wall Street Journal until his retirement. Prior to that, he covered national politics for the Dow Jones weekly, The National Observer.

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Breakfast Sausage: 5 stories to read today

Published by Mike Pound on .

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker walks off the stage after speaking at the Freedom Summit in Des Moines, Iowa, in a January 24, 2015 file photo. (Jim Young/REUTERS)Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker walks off the stage after speaking at the Freedom Summit in Des Moines, Iowa, in a January 24, 2015 file photo. (Jim Young/Reuters)

1) Scott Walker has officially joined the race for the Republican nomination for president, a few days after unofficially joining the race with a premature announcement tweet. The jumping-the-gun tweet wasn't the fault of the Walker campaign, though – at least, that's what the folks at Twitter said – so another Republicans Aren't Good at the Internet post isn't warranted in this case.

2) FBI raids of the municipal offices in Allentown were responsible for the suspension of the U.S. Senate campaign of Ed Pawlowski, that city's mayor. On Friday, the FBI served similar warrants at the home and offices of Reading Mayor Vaughn Spencer. Any obvious connections? Politics PA notes that Mike Fleck served as a political adviser to both mayors; it also notes that Mr. Fleck just abruptly shut down his campaign strategies business and moved out of Allentown.

3) The Republicans have their candidate to fill the state Senate seat of Matt Smith; Guy Reschenthaler resigned from his seat as a district judge in Jefferson Hills so he could begin campaigning immediately.

4) The Washington Post has an interesting piece that tries to figure out just what exactly Donald Trump is hoping to accomplish with his "presidential campaign," the goals for which surely don't include an actual residency at the White House (unless he manages to buy that property, turning it into the Trump White House Resort on Pennsylvania Avenue). We're betting that it's actually pretty simple; we're all talking about Trump (The Brand), and that's pretty much all Mr. Trump wants to accomplish.

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5) But there is apparently one thing for which we should thank Mr. Trump: Berkeley Breathed is resurrecting the Bloom County comic strip, and Mr. Trump's campaign is at least partially responsible for the rebirth of Opus and Milo. And that, Mr. Trump, may be the greatest thing you've ever accomplished.

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On the right side of history: Confederate flag comes down

Published by Mike Pound on .

There is still plenty of work to be done. But this is a great first step.

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Breakfast Sausage: 5 stories to read today

Published by Mike Pound on .

 U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a campaign event in Iowa City, Iowa, United States, July 7, 2015. (Jim Young/Reuters)

1) Hillary Clinton did an interview! She addressed various Republicans, Donald Trump, the State Department email scandal and – our favorite part – she said she'd talk to us more.

2) Ted Cruz has some special people – and by "special," we mean "bitter, bigoted cranks" -- in his state-level campaign organizations, and the Republican presidential candidate doesn't seem to be bothered a whole lot by what they say publicly.

3) It will soon become easier to own backyard chickens – and other barnyard critters – in the city of Pittsburgh.

Diverse members of Pittsburgh's furry community at Fernando's Cafe on Liberty Avenue on Friday, July 3, 2015. (Allison Farrand/Post-Gazette)Diverse members of Pittsburgh's furry community at Fernando's Cafe on Liberty Avenue on Friday, July 3, 2015. (Allison Farrand/Post-Gazette)

4) Let us be among the first to welcome the furries -- especially those who don't live here year round -- back to town.

5) We have furries. We have chickens. It's no wonder everyone loves us. Everyone, that is, except Deadspin's Kevin Draper. Next time you're in town, Kev, we'll make sure to set you up with dinner at Poli and prime seats for a hockey game at the Civic Arena.

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