89 House Democrats Vote to Slash Food Stamps

January 29, 2014

“A community is democratic only when the humblest and weakest person can enjoy the highest civil, economic, and social rights that the biggest and most powerful possess.” A. Phillip Randolph

A Farm Bill that slashes food stamps by $8 billion over ten years was passed by the House today. Among the 89 Democrats who voted in favor of the bill are former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Chair of the Democratic Party.

The cuts are on top of the $11 billion in cuts over 2 years that went into effect November 1, 2013.

Half of the people who collect food stamps in America have a low-paying job. In his State of the Union Address yesterday, President Obama pledged to reduce the economic divide in this country. If what he says is true, he will not sign this bill that promotes food insecurity for millions who live in poverty.

The New York Times reported:
The new farm bill, which had been mired in partisan gridlock, makes fundamental changes to both nutrition and farm programs. It cuts the food stamp program by $8 billion, and about 850,000 households will lose about $90 in monthly benefits under the change. 
Anti-hunger groups called the food stamp cuts draconian. Feeding America, a coalition of food banks across the county, said the change would result in 34 lost meals per month for the affected households.
An article in the LA Times clearly outlines how the reverse Robin Hood Farm Bill gives to the rich in farm subsidies, and steals from the poor in food stamp cuts.

Across the nation Democrats have expressed outrage at their representatives who voted for this bill. So controversial was the bill, that the word 'reform' was removed from the title.

Joel Berg, executive director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger said:
“This vote is a tragic, heartless and economically counterproductive departure from America’s bipartisan history of fighting hunger,” Mr. Berg said. “Members of Congress who voted for this should be ashamed.”
Some Democrats spoke up for the poor. Speaking on the House Floor was Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) who said, "The bill will make hunger worse in America."

The Washington Post reported:
Margarette Purvis, CEO of the Food Bank for New York City, warned this week that the changes would affect almost 300,000 New York families, who "will now be forced to choose between having heat in their homes during the bitter cold winter months or buying groceries. Charity simply cannot make up for this cut." 
And Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), a long-time liberal champion of the poor, said Wednesday that the measure will needlessly burden "working families who will face an empty fridge and annoying pain in their stomach for weeks and weeks." 
"If you vote for this bill, you will have to look them in the eye and tell them to go without food, to endure hunger, because we had to give more handouts to millionaires and billionaires," she added. 
Dozens of Democratic lawmakers from urban areas in New York, California, Illinois, Texas and New England states, where the food stamp cuts will have the most effect, voted against the measure.
Rep. DeLauro is correct. But the reality is that not one of the Democrats (or Republicans) who voted for this bill will ever experience hunger pangs; nor will they see the eyes or hear the cries of the hungry individuals who live far from their up-scale neighborhoods. Most of them do not have a clue. Many do not have hearts. The truth is that in America today there are not enough truly compassionate elected officials and even fewer humanitarians.

CNMI Delegate Gregorio Kilili Sablan, a member of the House Agricultural Committee, supported the bill because it brings "$32.5 million aimed at bringing the full benefit of the national food stamp program, SNAP, to families in the Northern Marianas", according to his press release.

While it may be good news that thousands of CNMI families who pay no federal taxes will have full plates, it is bad news that hundreds of thousands of mainland families who pay federal taxes will go hungry.

Michelle Friedman, communications director for the New York City Coalition Against Hunger said:
“There are already millions and millions who don’t have enough food and are trying to make it on a few hundred dollars a month to feed their families. If the bill passes, it’s going to very literally mean less food for Americans."
My students sponsor food drives to stock our high school food pantry and to supply food for the Health Care Center of the Homeless. I know that over the last few years the shelves of the Second Harvest Food Bank, the HCCH and community food pantries have emptied faster. We used to have one food drive a year. This year we conducted three already and are sponsoring a school-wide can sculpting contest next month to hopefully bring in thousands of cans to replenish the shelves of the food pantries.

How many children across our nation will go to bed hungry because of these cuts? I say feed everyone!

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Another sign that our nation is deteriorating. The ruling rich get richer, the poor get poorer. The rich take away the chances for the poor to lift themselves up or to even have a decent life. History will remember these voters and hell's gates await them.

Anonymous said...

The Americans who have a heart are mourning this bill. It really makes me angry that Democrats didn't stand up for the poor. I see the food banks empty in our state too. Guess the gvt. thinks that the middle class can feed the poor. The rich sure won't!