When a record number of Americans are on food stamps, it takes a special sort of lawmaker to suggest the moral policy position is to cut spending on food stamp programs in order to sustain tax cuts and subsidies for the very rich. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala) is that special sort of lawmaker.
On Wednesday Sessions mocked Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) for trying to prevent cuts to the nation’s food stamp program. Gillibrand seeks to offer an amendment to return $4.5 billion in food assistance to the poor that the Senate’s farm bill slashes.
“It’s precisely this kind of thinking that has bled our treasury of money that we need to pay for the demands that this country has. I also think it’s a moral issue,” Sessions said. “Is our national goal to place as many people on welfare, food stamp support, as we can possibly put on that program? Is that our goal? Is that a moral vision for the United States of America, just to see how many people we can place in a situation where they’re dependent on the federal government for their food? I just ask that. I think we should wrestle with that question.”
Gillibrand didn’t back down though. “As a mother, as a lawmaker, watching a child go hungry is something I will not stand for. In this day and age, in a country as rich as America is, it should not be tolerated and certainly should not be advocated for.”
Republicans claim the food stamp program is rife with fraud, despite the fact that the Agriculture Department estimates the program has a fraud rate of about 1 percent. We know it’s not really about fraud. It’s about a permanent shifting of money away from the poor and to the very rich. It’s about punishing poor women and families for having the audacity to be poor and it’s about mocking those who believe that’s wrong.
Photo from gageskidmore via flickr.