Starving the Poor
Just hours after a new USDA report showed more Americans are struggling to put food on the table, the House Agriculture Committee voted to cut food stamps by $844 million. The committee's 25 Republicans voted for the cut, while the committee's 20 Democrats voted against it.
The report found that 38.2 million Americans, including 13.8 million children, were "food insecure" in 2004, an increase of nearly two million from 2003. "These households, at some time during the year, had difficulty providing food for all their members due to a lack of resources," the USDA said. Some 25 million people receive food stamps monthly.
The cuts will impact 225,000 people in welfare to work programs and 70,000 legal immigrants who have lived in the US for at least five years.
"What seems like a small reduction, in fact is tragic for growing number of children and families in America who are already struggling," said Robert Forney, President and CEO of America's Second Harvest, The Nation's Food Bank Network. "Hungry and poor Americans are not responsible for creating the federal deficit, and they should not be expected to pay for it."
These cuts are part of the House Republican package that includes $70 billion in tax cuts and $50 billion in spending cuts. The spending cuts include cuts to other programs for low-income and vulnerable people, including Medicaid, foster care, child support, and support for disabled people.
"If the Agriculture Committee feels it needs to cut spending, it could simply limit subsides to no more than a quarter of a million dollars per farm per year. They don't need to take food away from hungry families," said Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World. "Katrina was a tragedy for many poor people, but cutting food stamps now is a scandal."
Based on the time I spent in seven of the so-called "red states," I would venture to guess that the majority of the people who rely on food stamps don't vote.
To put this in perspective, we spend $177 million per day on the Iraq war.