U.S. Congress Targets the Poorest of the Poor. . . Again

September 22, 2013

Last week President Obama signed a bill that would delay the 50 cent increase of the federal minimum wage in the CNMI. This unwise decision adversely impacts the poorest of all working Americans, those who make only $5.55 an hour.

Now the Republicans are targeting the poor by voting to slash food stamp assistance and delete 3.8 million of the neediest American citizens from the program.

The editorial board of The New York Times noted that the poverty rate has "worsened or failed to improve for the last 12 years." They called the vote a "supreme act of indifference."

In another editorial in The New York Times Paul Egan wrote:
A Republican majority that refuses to govern on other issues found the votes to shove nearly 4 million people back into poverty, joining 46.5 million at a desperation line that has failed to improve since the dawn of the Great Recession. It’s a heartless bill, aimed to hurt. Republicans don’t see it that way, of course. They think too many of their fellow citizens are cheats and loafers, dining out on lobster. 
Certainly there are frauds among the one in seven Americans getting help from the program formerly known as food stamps. But who are the others, the easy-to-ignore millions who will feel real pain with these cuts? 
. . .Underlying the food assistance fight is the idea that the poor are lazy, and deserve their fate — the Ayn Rand philosophy. You don’t see this same reasoning applied to those Red State agricultural-industrialists living high off farm subsidies, and that’s why Republicans have separated the two major recipient groups of federal food aid. Subsidized cotton growers cannot possibly be equated with someone trying to stretch macaroni into three meals. 
But Republican House leaders do have some empathy — for themselves. National Review reported this week that Representative Phil Gingrey, a hard-right conservative who wants to be the next senator from Georgia, complained in a private meeting about being “stuck here making $172,000 a year.” To say the least, he doesn’t yet qualify for food assistance.
Read his editorial. It also highlights out that fallacy that raising the minimum wage would be bad for business and the economy.

As Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) pointed out during the debate, members of the U.S. Congress use taxpayers' money to eat extravagant meals– meals that include steak, caviar and vodka. She pointed out that citizens on food stamps live on $4.50 a day, even as members took trips abroad where their food allowance was over $150 a day and was paid for by U.S. taxpayers.

Rep. Speier spoke of members of Congress who have taken the SNAP challenge. For one week they experience what it is like to prepare three meals a day with a budget of $4.50. Of course, this act is a symbolic gesture. After all, when the week is finished these congressional members go back to eating whatever they want, whenever they want. And they can certainly afford lots of food on their salaries, which are well over $5.55 an hour since they earn at least $172.000 annually. (Figuring their hourly rate would be difficult since they hardly work anymore.)

Perhaps some members do learn something from the "SNAP experience", but the ones that really need to, do not take the challenge. I would like to challenge Delegate Gregorio Sablan (I-CNMI), Rep. George Miller (D-CA), Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and President Obama to take the CNMI federal minimum wage challenge. Live on the average CNMI worker's salary of $5.55 an hour for a week. That would be about $178 a week for a 40-hour week after taxes. No credit cards, no dipping into savings, just $178 for a week.

Experiencing what it is like to survive on poverty level wages might cause them to reflect a little more on the delay in the minimum wage increase that they pushed for, voted for and/or signed into law. What they did in stagnating abhorrently low hourly wages is similar to what the Republicans did this week in voting to slash millions from receiving food stamps. Both acts harm the poorest of the poor.

A few of the best lines from Rep. Jackie Speier's speech:
If the federal government shut down for a few weeks who would really notice? When a government for the people, by the people becomes a government in spite of the people who are we really serving? If we refuse to take care of the people who are the most vulnerable at a tiny fraction of the cost of say our defense budget don't we cease to be true public servants?
I will remind Rep. Speier what she did to harm the poorest of the poor in the CNMI.


Angelo Villagomez said...

Kilili did do that, or maybe he lived off of the average food stamp handout.

Anonymous said...

He took the SNAP challenge. Now he needs to try the minimum wage challenge.

Anonymous said...

Excellent article. This Rep. reminds me of Senator Kennedy. She has a moral compass!

Anonymous said...

Americans are finding out that being hooked on Food Stamps is better and more profitable than getting a job. Look up the facts. And cut Food Stamps for illegals. Coupled with the cost of Obamacare this country's economy will collapse. When the EBT cards stop working there will be mass riots.

Wendy Doromal said...

9:17 Not one statement you wrote is factual. Most people on food stamps work at low paying jobs, or disabled, are veterans or cannot find jobs.

No "illegals" can get food stamps. Only U.S. citizens!

Obamacare, read the truth here: Daily Kos and
Daily Kos

Anonymous said...

"Mexicans in the U.S. that they do not need to declare their immigration status in order to receive financial assistance."


Billions are wasted with the SNAP program. It's easier to just get an EBT card than get a job and work hard.

Wendy Doromal said...

10:16 Read the article you cited again. US citizen children are eligible for food stamps regardless of the status of their parents. No illegal immigrants qualify for food stamps. Billions are wasted? Where did you get that?