Saturday, November 02, 2013

Let them eat --- nothing

Some 47 million Americans woke up yesterday with less money to spend on food. That's one in seven Americans who currently are in such economic stress they need assistance to feed their families. The $36 on average being lost monthly probably doesn't sound like a lot to the food secure, which is most of us. It's likely impossible to grasp the enormity of these SNAP cuts unless you've spent significant time in the physical spaces of poverty.

While in my many decades of existence on this planet, there has only been one day when I had no food and no money, I've spent much time among the working (and unable to work) poor. Not sure you can understand poverty until you've looked into the eyes of a hungry child across a dinner table. Believe me when I tell you if they qualify for EBT, the extra $20-30 makes a huge difference. Indeed for working poor losing $10 is a BFD. Oftentimes that's more than they have in their wallet to last a week.

It's easy to demonize SNAP recipients. One notices the impossibly fat-assed (and often rude) person ahead of you in the checkout line with a cartful of chips and soda and thinks why am I paying for that. But for every overweight person buying soda you see, there's 1,000+ underweight moms, disabled veterans and elderly singles trying to buy healthier food. You probably don't notice them. They have pitifully small orders. They try to conduct the transaction quickly and discretely out of embarrassment for needing the help. They're the ones digging in the bottom of their pockets looking for an extra coin to pay for the toilet paper. They will all suffer, much more greatly than the few who abuse the system. The abusers always figure out a new way to exploit it.

Worse yet, this is just the beginning. There's a mind boggling bi-partisan consensus to cut SNAP benefits even more:
The Republican-controlled House version of the farm bill proposes cutting $39 billion from the program over the next decade; the Democratic-controlled Senate would cut $4 billion over the same period.
WTF is up with these Democrats? Cutting food assistance is the most cruel and counterproductive GOP policy on the table. For one thing it subverts everything the Democratic party once stood for. And SNAP is one of the best stimulus for the economy. Cutting benefits will only throw one more roadblock on the way to some kind of meaningful national economic recovery.
The food stamp cuts scheduled to go into effect on Nov. 1 will reduce spending by $5 billion in the 2014 fiscal year, and another $6 billion over the 2015 and 2016 fiscal years. They are expected to shave 0.2 percentage point from annualized consumption growth in the fourth quarter of 2013 and trim an estimated 0.1 percentage point off the annual growth rate of the nation’s gross domestic product, according to estimates by Michael Feroli, the chief United States economist at JPMorgan Chase. Those drags may seem small, but right now projections for gains in fourth-quarter gross domestic product hover around an annual rate of just 2 percent.
And on top of this, in January they'll be cutting unemployment benefits again at a time when millions are still without work that provides a living wage. Republicans have made clear they want to wreck the joint so they can blame the "tax and spend" Democrats. Instead of enabling this vandalism, every Democrat should be out there pushing for every form of stimulus possible. GOP is living in their alternate reality, but the true facts remain the same. Some 70% of our economic growth depends on the consumer spending. Democrats should be out there pushing every single day to give the people money to spend. Betting it would be a popular policy. [photo via ]

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