Last week while the nation was collectively lost in the NSA wiretapping scandal and the news that we are inching closer to a war in Syria, the United States Senate, like thieves in the night passed the latest iteration of The Farm Bill which will cut the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) also known as food stamps by $4.1 billion over the next ten years.
The bill, which was co-authored by the junior Senator from Michigan Debbie Stabenow, is the latest glaring example of the inability of Democrats in Congress to resist the temptation of buying into deficit hysteria, which Congressional Republicans have been hyping for the last 4 ½ years.
Stabenow, who just wrote a bill that will take food out of the mouths of poor men, women, and children, almost pulled an arm muscle while patting herself on the back said “The Senate today voted to support 16 million American jobs, to save taxpayers billions and to implement the most significant reforms in agriculture programs in decades.” What’s that Senator, no mention of cuts in the SNAP program? Why not be completely honest with the people who voted to send you to Washington, the people who you pay lip service to all of the time.
What’s even more galling is that The House of Representatives, which by now you know is being held hostage by Tea Party Conservatives, has yet to come to an agreement on it’s own version of the Farm Bill. If John Boehner and the gang had their way not only would they take food out of the mouths of the poor they would also take away their knives and forks.
Last month The House Agriculture Committee did pass a bill that cut funding for the SNAP program by $20.5 billion by removing “categorical eligibility.” Boehner himself is on record as saying that he supports the level of cuts, describing them as changes “that both parties know are necessary”. The only thing missing from Boehner and The House’s hinted proposals is a David Vitter like amendment barring food stamps to anyone who has been convicted of certain crimes, which means not only preventing them from qualifying for a valuable and needed Government program but their families as well.
Between the $4 billion in cuts offered by Senate Democrats and the $20 million offered by The House Agriculture Committee the one thing that is certain is that poor and working people are going to be hurt significantly. Both political parties are playing a game of tug of war over budgetary issues except that while Republicans are pulling their end with their feet standing at their own starting position, Democrats are pulling their end with their feet somewhere around the middle of the field.
The same thing played out earlier this year when it came time for both sides to put out their prospective budgets. Paul Ryan, the guy who lost the 2012 Presidential election big as one half of the Romney/Ryan ticket while moonlighting from his day job as a Congressman from Wisconsin has never met a poor person he likes and all of the versions of the budget proposals that bear his name have been as equally draconian as the previous one that came before it.
How did Democrats respond? Democratic Senator from Washington Patty Murray threw her budget into the ring that was only slightly to the left of Ryan’s rather than being the polar opposite. Then, just when you thought it couldn’t be any more frustrating as a Progressive, President Obama offered his own budget that took it’s position squarely in between Ryan’s and Murray’s. Nobody knows how to negotiate like Democrats.
The fact of the matter is these cuts couldn’t have come at a worse time. Despite what the brought and paid for honks on CNBC and Fox Business Channel tell you, the economy is not recovering as fast as it needs to be. Wall Street setting record highs on a daily basis is only good for the same Wall Street cheats that took the country to it’s knees with all of it’s shady practices in 2007 and 2008.
One in seven Americans use the SNAP program. An overwhelming majority of these people work full time and still don’t make enough in wages to feed their families on their own paychecks. Yet there are constantly dehumanized and made to feel worthless, like ingrates and thieves by one political party and simply lied to by the other.
Where is the shame of Democratic Senators for passing this kind of bill? Where is the shame of the President if he doesn’t use his veto power to stop this bill? When is the Political Party that is supposed to be championing the rights of the poor and working class going to start living up to the standards that it’s constituency expects?