Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Anti-Food Stamp King

Unable to push a $20-billion cut in food stamps through the House last June, now Republicans are attempting to cut $40 billion by tightening eligibility and cutting off able-bodied adults who don't find work or train for jobs --- here it says "able-bodied adults without dependents under 55".

GOP backers of the bill say they want to curb waste and abuse. "I think a lot of our members want to finally make real reforms to the food-stamp program," said Representative Steve King, an Iowa Republican and senior member of the House Agriculture Committee, which has jurisdiction over the programs. But members of the GOP (those who rather tax the poor and feed the rich) winces when asked about farm subsidies.

Starting this November the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will buy $189 a month worth of food for single adults who has a monthly NET income of $958 a month (or less).

The fastest-growing group of people qualifying for food stamps has been able-bodied adults without dependents, which increased from 1.7 million in 2007 to 4.5 million in 2011. The GOP is proposing a requirement that such recipients lose their benefits after three months unless they work at least 20 hours a week or attend a training program --- even though jobs still remain very scarce.

According to the U-6 unemployment rate, there are still 6 unemployed Americans for every one job opening --- and for older workers (those over 50), the unemployment situation is even more dire. The economy is still sputtering, causing stiff competition even for low-wage and/or low-skill jobs.

And if a job can't be found, where does one go to "train" for one?

The House proposal is based on the dubious theory that the availability of a few dollars in food aid per day is enough to persuade people not to work. But data from before the recession show that few people stop working after they start receiving food stamps.

Regardless of whether the proposed GOP bill will ever pass either chamber of Congress, food stamps benefits for all participants will be cut this November (Example: From $200 a month to $189 a month for single adults without dependents).

The food stamp cuts are only part of the overall GOP agenda to cut all social programs, including but not limited to, TANF (traditional welfare), unemployment benefits, Meals on Wheels, Social Security retirement and disability, SSI, Medicaid and Medicare (all the programs that the GOP has always been against, going back decades).

The bill, which the CBO estimates will result in the loss of benefits for an estimated 3.8 million people in 2014, is expected to pass with only GOP votes. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the GOP bill would force about 14 million people from the SNAP program by 2023.

Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier (wielding a steak, a bottle of vodka and a can of caviar on the House floor) said Republicans who support the cuts are the beneficiaries of generous stipends for overseas travel.

"They somehow feel like crusaders, like heroes when they vote to cut food stamps," she said of GOP backers of the cuts. "Some of these same members travel to foreign countries under the guise of official business. They dine at lavish restaurants, eating steak, vodka and even caviar."

That would most likely be the GOP Representative from Iowa, Steve King, who received $3,588 for food and lodging during a six-day trip to Russia (One able-bodied single adult without dependents who receives food stamps could live on $3,588 for one whole year.) Read the full account here.

Some 47.6 million people, or nearly 15% of the population (the same percent living in poverty) get food stamps according to September federal data.

Steve King benefited from $1.2 million in federal dollars according to the Environmental Working Group. Steve King's State of Iowa ranks second in the nation for $24.9 billion in farm subsidies received from 1995 to 2012 --- but the state only brought in $739 million in federal dollars.

Obama might be the compassionate food stamp president, but at least he's not the hypocritical anti-food stamp King. The GOP's cruelty and selfishness is never-ending --- especially for the Tea Party radicals --- those in government that benefit from government, but who hate government for everybody else.

In another recent effort to curb the GOP's perceived welfare fraud:

Republican Governor Paul LePage of Maine spent $700,000 of taxpayer money for additional inspectors to investigate welfare fraud in his state, but only 45 cases of alleged fraud were referred to law enforcement.

Gov. LePage also vetoed a bipartisan bill to accept $1 billion in federal money for Maine's Medicaid expansion under the Obamacare plan for roughly 70,000 uninsured Mainers.

But Gov. LePage was very adamant about receiving $500 million in federal dollars to pay off hospitals, and was handing out government checks to hospital CEOs as though they had just hit the lottery. Then the hospital CEOs complained about taxes.


  1. UPDATE....

    The House narrowly approved a Republican plan Thursday to cut billions from food stamps by tightening eligibility rules and ending state waivers that have allowed able-bodied workers to continue to get help when unemployed for more than three months. The 217-210 vote was a victory for Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and also should move the House and Senate closer to conference on a five year farm bill.

  2. Update...

    The Republicans held this vote without holding a single public hearing because they know these cuts are deeply unpopular. We can put the pressure on them by making sure they don't get away with this quietly...sign this petition.

  3. Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) --- "If you're a healthy adult and don't have someone relying on you to care for them, you ought to earn the benefits you receive. Look for work. Start job training to improve your skills or do community service. But you can no longer sit on your couch or ride a surfboard like Jason in California and expect the federal taxpayer to feed you."

  4. There are a few decent human beings in Congress:

    Michigan Democrat Dan Kildee has vocally opposed food stamp cuts for months, and he excoriated the Republicans’ latest proposal in a statement.

    “SNAP is a vital program that helps to combat hunger and help put food on the table for families who find themselves falling on hard times. Republican desires to dismantle government bit-by-bit and deprive the neediest Americans of a basic necessity—food—have completely derailed the Farm Bill process, hurting family farmers and workers."

    Dan Kildee lived off a food stamps budget of $4.50 a day in an effort to bring attention to a proposed $20.5 billion in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps. He said he wished he could have bought more fruit and vegetables and coffee, adding most of his food consisted of carbs and things that would keep him full.

    Kildee wasn't alone in what they called the SNAP Challenge. A total of 26 Democrats from the U.S. House of Representatives also took the challenge.

    "Does it give me a full understanding of exactly what it's like (to live on food stamps)? Absolutely not," Kildee said. "It won't transform the way Americans feels about the poor, but if it changes a few votes, or opens a few minds, it might bring some traction for this issue. For some, it's a question about eating or not eating."