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With Nation Starving, Republicans Try to Slash Food Stamps

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky

Conservatives are waging a strange, scary, immoral war on the federal food stamp program at a time when it is needed most, argues writer Jordan Weissmann in a compelling essay on the Atlantic Monthly website.

The Great Recession has plunged millions of American families into poverty, where they are dependent on the modest subsidies in the food stamp program literally to stay alive and feed their children. But Republicans in Congress have decided that the program is full of fraud—with absolutely zero evidence to back up that claim—and they have been attempting to take an ax to the program and significantly reduce the number of families who receive aid. And it’s important to note the word “kids” with this program, because it is children who are the primary beneficiaries of the federal SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), the official name for the food stamp program.

An astounding one out of every seven Americans receives food stamps, about 45 million people—Weissmann points out this is roughly equivalent to the population of Spain. In the richest nation on earth, one of every seven people could starve if not for government assistance. There has been a 70 percent increase in those receiving food stamps in the past four years—while there has been ZERO change in the eligibility rules. In other words, the numbers have exploded because so many more Americans are poor. That’s what’s going on in America right now—previously comfortable families pushed to desperation. The average monthly income for food stamp families is a measly $731, and 85 percent of recipients were below the poverty line—$18,500 a year for a family of three.

But yet, these numbers mean nothing to Congressional Republicans. Republican Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama is trying to push as many Americans as he can off the food stamp rolls, while Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky wants to slash the food stamp budget by 40 percent. The Republican-led House has passed a bill that would cut $34 billion from its $770 billion budget, but the Democratic-led Senate won’t go along.

Clearly, our nation is being “led” by a group of rich, out-of-touch white men who have no connection to the actual lives Americans are living, have no contact with the pain and suffering occurring in our communities. They want to blame President Obama for every ill in America, yet they come behind him and propose to devastate the people being hurt by his supposed failures. But of course Republicans have been against food stamps from the beginning—even though the states where Congressmen are the most vociferous opponents, such as most of those in the Deep South, have the highest percentages of recipients because they have the most poverty. For example, both Alabama and Kentucky, the states where the senators are so intent on slashing the rolls, are in the top ten of the states with the highest percentage of recipients. In both states, about one in five residents receives food stamps. One out of every five people!

Oh well, so much for Congressmen actually serving their constituents.


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