Reverse Robin Hood; Republicans Want To Cancel Food Stamps, Let Poor Starve, Literally

by ursulafaw –

“The Bible says that ‘God helps them who help themselves,'” Mike Pence said to a Huffington Post reporter in September. When the reporter replied that the expression was not in the Bible, Pence quipped, “It’s in the Republican Bible.” This exchange was satire but Pence’s recent comment on “personal responsibility” with regard to health issues was real and the furor over government subsidized grocery assistance for the poor is a recurring controversy. This week SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) is once again the go-to doormat of the budgetary process, as it always is renewal-year in, renewal-year out.

Food stamps is an emotional issue, like abortion and gun control and so just like those other two topics, vast amounts of mis-information and even dis-information exists and the program is always on the chopping block, despite the fact that in reality it is a tiny portion of the agriculture budget and is an almost invisible sliver when represented on a pie chart. Despite this, every time the program comes up for reauthorization every five years, it’s the subject of hot debate and this year is no exception. In Republican Economic Theory, a course which really should be taught in schools, if one can only redirect money from SNAP, one can achieve budgetary wonders. “It’s the strongest possible step to achieving real deficit reduction, strengthening our military and beginning the tax reform process,” Budget Committee spokesman William Allison said. Wow. Just take the Trix away from the kids and all things are possible. Details from The Huffington Post:

About 42 million Americans receive SNAP benefits, down from a peak of 47 million in 2013. The aid can be used only to buy food at grocery stories and markets. Experts have credited it for helping eradicate starvation in the U.S., but the program, one of the federal government’s biggest safety nets, has nevertheless been a frequent target of Republican criticism. An overlooked detail is that SNAP spending has been declining and that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office expects enrollment to fall to 32 million by 2025.

Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas) is the chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, which reauthorizes the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program every five years as part of a farm bill that also includes agribusiness subsidies. For weeks, Conaway has been trying to prevent Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.), chairwoman of the House Budget Committee, from including massive SNAP cuts in her budget. Black’s committee has been floating the prospect of significant spending reductions since May.

“Over the years, SNAP has essentially been an ATM machine for Republicans so they can pay for increases in defense spending and tax cuts,” Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) told HuffPost.

PoliticusUSA has an excellent editorial up on SNAP:

Cutting waste, fraud, and abuse is the story often used to justify such cruel cuts that take food out of the mouths of innocent children. People need to work. The government is not a charity. These too are chanted in the halls of power and in homes across the country with little understanding of the entrapment of poverty, the structural obstacles that need to be overcome, and how having a job is not the sole solution to financial freedom, especially when the minimum wage is a starvation wage and not a living wage.

The efficiency excuse is even harder to swallow when one discovers that it is not for lack of money that these cruel cuts are said to be necessary. Rather Republicans believe that children need to go hungry so that they can give another tax break to the wealthiest people in the country and continually increase defense spending.

I am not sure how anyone with common sense and a moral compass can see how making cuts to a social safety net program that enables children to have food on the table constitutes having “family values”.

“Family values” is an out of touch Republican fantasy but nothing can compare to that main tenet of Republican Economic Theory which gave us the trickle down concept, simply, that taking money  away from the people who have the least and giving it to the people who have the most, will result n a healthy and happy economy — yes, some people will literally starve to death but maybe Mike Pence can find another passage in the not so fictional “Republican Bible” to give us succor. Or “sucker” which is what we are if we allow SNAP to be cut.

 

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos