Forty-seven million Americans live in poverty tonight. 23 million households are represented in the number of people who use the Food Stamp Program. Millions are children who are most vulnerable and unable to fend for themselves if the program is cut or ended.
House Republicans rushed through a Farm Bill with the SNAP program no longer a part of it. Now it is a stand-alone piece of legislation more easily cut and changed in a myriad of ways whose hurtful effects that at the end of the line will take food out of the mouths of children.
The program has ballooned to an $80 Billion dollar expenditure in the U.S. budget not due to waste but due to the actual need. The 2008-2009 Economic Depression threw millions out of work, and depressed wages for millions of families. This substantially increased the number of children facing hunger or actually experiencing it. The failure to raise wages and to create family supporting jobs has not substantially decreased the need.
“I think there are some Republicans who think this is their moment to end this program as we know it, and the question is will they succeed or not,” said Rep. Jim McGovern, a Massachusetts Democrat who has long fought for maintaining food aid for the poor.
Private charity through food banks and churches provide significant support but are already over-extended as it is. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides $130 a month to individuals and $270 for families. One in seven Americans substantially depend on this program and use it over and above what is supplied privately.
What Republicans anticipate here is for some of the funding to be sent to the States where the funds might be spent for food assistance or perhaps not. Cuts of three percent to the program and stiffening the eligibility requirements which are clearly demarcated to the poor and oppressed of this land as it is are contemplated.
James Weil of the Food Research and Action Center expressed serious concern saying “Republicans leadership seems to be coming at the program with malign intent and that’s deeply concerning.”
Democrats seek to maintain the program and are angry at the latest Republican maneuver to make it easier to make deep cuts in the program. Struggles for Justice is not seeking simply to attack Republicans. It is simply a sad fact that it is that party that does not like this program at all and are looking to literally take food out of the mouths of our most defenseless children.
Funding increases to the SNAP program are not only a measure of the rising need in the United States but a sharp indicator of the inability of parents to earn enough money to pay for the food their family needs each month. If unemployed, a family is in even more dire circumstances.
Instead of cutting the program, why doesn’t Congress increase the minimum wage and put millions back to work? Doing this would decrease the number of people who qualify for the program and cut the expenditure while at the very same time doing something that should have been done years ago.
But Republicans in the House of Representatives and in the Senate have blocked the Obama Administration and of Congressional Democrats at every turn for the past several years. This obstruction has both a budgetary impact that is negative as well as the even more serious outcome of hungry children and families all across the nation.
We all have a moral obligation to see to the needs of the most vulnerable. Our own action is vital in this but we are also citizens with the responsibility to act. And those that represent us who have been given a legal and fiduciary responsibility for this program bear an even greater obligation and moral burden.
It is just and right to see to the food needs of the neediest children and their families. Millions of families on the SNAP program are not unemployed. They work two part-time jobs at around eight dollars an hour. That won’t take care of housing costs, and clothing needs along with the need to feed the family for a whole month.
One Congressional Democrat said from the floor of the House yesterday that it was true what Mitt Romney had noted during his 2012 election campaign: “that you ‘all don’t care about the 47 percent.” This realization concerning the stereotypical view of Republicans of the poor and lower middle class as lazy or unworthy or both is at the heart of this struggle.
The Old Testament story of Lazarus, who lay outside the gates of the home of a wealthy man eating nothing but the crumbs left by a pack of dogs should be instructive. When it was time for each man to face their Creator the disposition of the case by the Almighty was decidedly different as it affected the two men in all eternity.
Probably the least known fact about Food Stamps: the large number of the “working” poor who cling to it to feed the kids and themselves. These people are not welfare Queens riding the streets of our cities in shiny Cadillac cars.
Advocates of basic social justice and for what is moral and right must let these representatives know about the error of their ways. These people are factually no Democrats so we can’t blame them along with their Republican counterparts. They are Republicans who have sought to get rid of this program for years and see the main chance to do so now.
Remember Lazarus ladies and gentlemen. It is instructive. You will be dealt with in similar fashion when it comes time to face your maker. Struggles for Justice advocates maintaining full funding for the SNAP program and raising wages and creating real jobs. What will you do to help?