Tag Archives: SNAP

Republicans Declare War on Poor with Attacks on Food and Health

waronthepoorNew Orleans   We’re way across the line now.  The place where we could have just shrugged and said it’s all just politics was many miles ago.  I’m not sure what it is but the Republicans have plain and simply declared war on the poor.  

            It’s not just that they can’t stand them.   It’s gone way past that. They are trying to kill them off now.

When you look at the Simon Legree efforts to take food away from the poor by eviscerating the food stamp or so-called SNAP program, it is impossible to escape this conclusion.   The Administration started the ball rolling with an unconscionable cut of $4 billion over 10 years, even while we’re reeling from the recession still.   The Republicans took that and went 10 times worse by concocting an amendment going to vote now that would take off $40 billion over the same period and push 2 million people off of food assistance.  Their view is “what recession?” it seems.  An individual would be barred from food stamps in their proposal after 90 days if they were between 19 and 50 years old and didn’t have a job.  They could get unemployment, but not food stamps!  What dark place these folks are living in.  It’s these Republican Congressmen who should be unemployed!

 And, if they can’t starve the poor, they want to take away any hope of health care.  Once again Republicans in the House want to see if they can shutdown the government by holding the American people hostage to their quixotic effort to try and defund the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare as they call it.  Reports indicate that 80 of these scalawags have hijacked House Speaker Boehner on this crazy deal where they promise they will not extend the debt ceiling unless ACA is defunded.   We run out of debt in mid-October.  No one thinks this is smart.   It can’t get through the Senate.  What the heck?

            All of this is in the wake of daily reports about the widening gap between the rich and poor.  The average household income of a little more than $51000 is the same now as it was 25 years ago in 1988.  In a place like Manhattan in New York City the income gap is the widest of any county in the country with the bottom 20% of the population averaging less than $10,000 in household income and the top 20% averaging $389,000 with the top 5% hitting about $800,000 for the family.  You wonder why Bill de Blasio won the recent Democratic primary arguing that there are a “tale of two cities” rich and poor.

 

            When it seems everyone is realizing that the country’s riches have to be spread around, we have one of the major parties staking its reputation and politics on starving Americans and leaving them at death’s door by declaring a war on the poor?  Who will stand with us against this attack?

 

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Changes in Eligibility Standards Made Food Stamps a Winner in Recession

Dallas   There was some good news for citizen wealth during the recession and it can be found in the increased utilization of the food stamp program, which is now called SNAP standing for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.  The raw numbers tell the story. On the eve of the recession in 2007, the government was spending $30 billion or so on food stamps but by the end of 2012, five years later, the allocation had more than doubled to $75 billion.   More importantly in the same period beneficiaries have increased by 70% with almost 50 million people now receiving food stamps.

Did we get a heart or did we get smart?  It seems like we got smart.  The severity of the recession finally opened the eyes of both bureaucrats and politicians that the eligibility criteria were so difficult that many families were being forced into dire circumstances before they could qualify for food stamps.  A temporary setback caused by job loss or income decreases could force permanent impoverishment before allowing help from SNAP.   Beginning with the Obama Administration’s expanded benefits program during the bailout early in 2008, many states were encouraged to take a closer and kinder look at the impact of their draconian eligibility standards and for a change they did, particularly by relaxing some of the requirements around savings accounts, property ownership, and family income levels with some states going up to 200% of the poverty level.  The result was that 43 states and US territories opened up their standards so that more people would not be hungry while they weathered the recession.  The USDA which administers the program, partially because of the huge benefits to the American agricultural sector and not just the poor, notes correctly that this is the way SNAP was supposed to work by expanding to extend more benefits as poverty levels increased.

Food stamps are still no princely sum.  The average benefit paid last year was $133 per person or about $4 per day, but that makes a big difference when the question is eating or not eating, eating right or eating wrong, and looking for work or going to bed hungry.

Even as the recession begins to ease, let’s hope that we have learned something from all of  this over the last 5 or 6 years, and we never turn back the food stamp clock and force people to become destitute and starving before they can get assistance.

SNAP Benefits on Audio

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