If you have been following the U.S. Congress, specifically the House of Representatives, you probably noticed the callous attitude that the Republican-led majority has taken to every aspect of governing.
The House voted to cut the food stamp budget, or the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, by $40 billion. The conservative reforms put into place by President Bill Clinton and a coalition Congress in the 1990s were altered even further. We set a low bar back then and it just keeps dropping.
Taken aside from the budget fights that affect every September (the end of the federal fiscal year), there is always the moral issue of denying people food. Congressional leaders have to turn this around and realize that food on the table is what can give people a lift they need to rise out of poverty.
The idea that childhood nutrition is something that can be “cut,” “sequestered” or “eliminated” is simply sickening. The program serves so many people and allows so many people to aspire to learn, create and work that a cut is literally a blow to the national morale.
With 15 percent of the population — 47,760,285 people — it is hard to imagine a cut that would both reduce the deficit and help those that are left out in our capitalist system.
This type of cut is not just to your neighbor: It could affect your grandmother or someone else in your extended family. Members of Congress, unfortunately, only see as their constituents the checkbooks of their wealthy campaign donors.
Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., made a good point on the floor of the House when she noted that members of Congress received more than $100 per day for food budgets on official trips to other countries, while food stamp recipients receive less than $5 a day.
It is a sickening state of affairs when elected officials ignore their own power and use it against those least fortunate.
Ironically, the number of people that the program has lifted out of poverty equals the number of people projected to lose benefits. Typical Congress goes and mucks around with what is working more or less perfectly well. There simply isn’t a program that conservatives won’t touch.
They heard a bill with an initial $20 million in cuts but did not pass it, because they claimed the program needed to be cut even further.
This kind of backward and ledger-lined thinking really throws the entire country under the bus. Why cut a program that is going to decrease by 30 percent over the next 10 years? Yes, there is a time and a place to reduce the food stamp budget, but it is certainly not with the country just dragging itself out of a recession.
Luckily, the Senate is unlikely to take up the bill as the House has passed it, preventing potential disaster. On top of that, President Obama decided to honor his commitment to the poor and destitute by promising a veto on this heinous bill.
However, these cuts show the priorities of the Republican-led House of Representatives: They are living in a fantasy world, free from consequences of hunger.
Reach the columnist at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @peternorthfelt