In a largely symbolic vote that demonstrates the depths of Republican animosity toward the poor, a U.S. congressional panel approved about $33 billion in cuts over 10 years from food stamp benefits.
The cuts were advanced by the House of Representatives Agriculture Committee and are expected to die in the Senate, but not without first making sure Republicans get the chance to stick it to the poor at the expense of corporate industry. That’s because the committee’s proposal to tighten rules for qualifying for food stamps, formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP, and repeal a 2009 increase to the program’s funding instead of reducing subsidies for farmers in the form of crop insurance payments.
Just how bad is the Republican proposal? Conservative Democrat and frequent-aisle crosser Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN) was among the first to speak out against the cuts. “I would contend this entire process is a waste of time”. “Taking a meat ax to nutrition programs that feed millions of hard-working families in an effort to avoid defense cuts is not a serious way to achieve deficit reduction,” he said.
It’s also bad enough that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, who think American nuns spend too much time focusing on anti-poverty initiatives, stepped in as well, writing to lawmakers on Monday asking that they preserve the funding. The nonprofit Food Research and Action Center said on its website on Wednesday that the restrictions could push up to 3 million people out of the food stamp program.
The committee pushed the cuts even though Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R) House-passed budget claims $30 billion in savings over 10 years could come from rolling back direct payments to farmers and crop insurance thereby leaving the real food subsidies intact. Of course, farmers vote in important states for Republicans come November while poor Americans, given the scope of voter ID laws sweeping the country, clearly don’t represent the same electoral threat.
Photo from bsabarnowl via flickr.