Monday, December 2, 2013

Rep. Steve Southerland's War on Lazy Bums

Evidently, Congressman Southerland never read the recent speech by Pope Francis.

Food stamps are a moral issue.

After the cuts last month, the House Republicans want to cut another $40 billion from food stamps over the next ten years. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the GOP's proposed cuts to SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) immediately cuts 2-4 million more low-income individuals from the program.

The new cuts come primarily from eliminating waivers that states can use, during periods of high unemployment -- to ease the severity of a harsh rule that limits SNAP to:

  • three months of benefits out of every three years
  • for people aged 18 to 50
  • who aren’t raising minor children
  • who aren’t disabled
  • who aren't caring for minor children
  • and who are unemployed, regardless of how hard they are looking for work.

Under the new House Republican proposal, if such individuals can’t find at least a half-time job (20 hours a week) they will summarily be thrown off the program after only 90 days — irrespective of how high local unemployment is.

The individuals in question are among the poorest people in the United States. A little over one-third are over age 40, about half are white, half have a high school diploma or GED, and about a third have less than a high school degree.

Proponents of the cuts to food stamps for these people implies that anyone who would lose SNAP benefits that wanted a job could get one. This is clearly not the case. Using the broader measure of unemployment (the U-6 or U-7 rate), there is only 1 job opening for every 6 Americans that are unemployed.

As of July 2013, there were still 2 million fewer jobs than when the recession began in December 2007. Since the end of the Great Recession, over 3 million young people have been graduating from high school every single year in aftermath of the greatest economic calamity since the Great Depression in the 1930s.

Providing very low-income or no-income people with access to food (while they are unemployed and the economy is still very weak) is the most basic role of any government.

The Congressman who was most responsible for leading this charge to cut food stamps for these people is Rep. Steve Southerland (R-Fla), who has 414,000 people in his home State of Florida that fall into this category (unemployed, on food tamps, and with no children) --- the most than any other State in the U.S.

Rep. Steve Southerland made cutting food stamps his life's passion, and said it was the main reason why he first ran for Congress. Now he likens himself to someone like Roosevelt or Churchill when he claims that cutting food stamps is the "defining moral issue of our time". (Email him and let him know what a pompous ass he is.)

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