Friday, September 20, 2013

Eric Cantor vows to drink the poor's milkshake, and then take candy from a baby.

Today the US House of Representatives finally got around to addressing the funding of food stamps, or as they've been renamed, SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional…Mobile Army Strike…Surgical Hospital…Logistics Division…)…food stamps, okay?

Earlier this year the Farm Bill, dealing with the production of food on farms AND aid to those in poverty came through Congress. But in the fight that conservatives have made Congress day to day, there was contention. Already, there was a push to slash out $20 billion from aid to those in poverty, which is harsh, and I oppose. But conservatives pondered, “Is this all there is? Couldn't I do more?” Oh, well, we know they didn't ponder it. They raced to enact a doubling of the harmful cuts to food stamps.

But, alas, they faced stiff Democrat resistance on this. So, the Farm Bill got split up. And, now, food stamps are on the chopping block.

Brendan Hoffman / Getty Images
The Republican plan, giddily put forward by Eric Cantor, will cut $40 billion over the next 4 years. And by next year 3.8 million will be kicked out of the SNAP program (And more and more will be hit as the decade passes).  As well, access will be tightened to access food stamps, and many state waivers will be cancelled. Where all these people end up, how they get fed, that isn't Eric Cantors problem. You should have thought about it before you chose to be poor.

And, finally, getting to the floor, the message was clear. The vote was 217 to 210. All but 15 Republicans voted for these cuts. The Republicans are clear, food stamps aren't a priority. And, now with the economic trouble we are having in this country. Food stamps are instrumental for millions. But this is yet another investment in the country Republicans are not just unwilling to make, they are hostile to it.

And it isn't just Congressional Republicans at work. Kaisch, in Ohio, is eager to ramp up pressure on the poor as well. He wants to be sure there are stringent work requirements, if you want to eat. Trouble is that in Ohio (47th in job creation); there isn't exactly a surplus of jobs to give these people living in such poverty (Its part of the issue.).

But the implication is clear; you have to force people that are struggling and hungry to work. To Republicans, they are lazy and dishonest. The contempt is clear.

And it is a stunningly ill-conceived plan. Even if there is some job, they have to spend money to get to the job. Then, if they have kids, pay for someone to take care of them. And, let’s face it; these jobs won’t be well playing ones. Will this just put them deeper in the hope? All just to allow conservatives to feel they've won and economic and moral victory over those in poverty? Really?

This effort will hurt so many. There is a troubling level of food insecurity in the country now. One in seven families struggle with having consistent access to enough food to be healthy. This comes to around 49 million, a fifth of them kids. These numbers are growing.

This many are already struggling. And where will they and others be when the Republicans are done? What happens to them? What happens to this country when we struggle like this, and turn our backs on millions?

For now this time wasting is meaningless. It shouldn't pass through the Senate. And it won’t be signed into law by the president. But it is dragging out the legislative process, which is par for the course with Eric Cantor. And with the fights over budgets and debts to come, those in poverty will be targeted more by House Republicans.

But this isn't the only trouble facing those relying on food stamps to get by, week by week. Since 2009, the Recovery Act has been enhancing the SNAP program. But, come November 1st, this support will be ending. And, at that point, a family of three will see their monthly support drop by $29 a month.

The struggle for those in poverty is continuing. And Eric Cantor just toys with them. Being poor shouldn't make you an easy target for politics.

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