While people who run food pantries and soup kitchens report seeing new faces looking for help, most Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives essentially say, "Who cares?"
The GOP-controlled House passed a farm bill in July that includes plenty of subsidies for agricultural businesses, but no money for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, which provides food stamps for low-income families. And the discussion on Capitol Hill since has been about how much to reduce food aid for these neediest citizens.
Reps. Shelley Moore Capito and David McKinley fell right in line with fellow Republicans to pass the bill, 216-208. Democrats voted against it, including Rep. Nick Rahall.
Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla., wants to add new work requirements to SNAP. Well, here's a tip for Southerland and those who think like him: If people could find enough work, they wouldn't need food stamps.
Since the recession, the real estate bust and multiple prolonged military deployments, families and communities around the country have suffered. Just because the recession officially ended doesn't mean that everyone got to go back to work.
People who lack the willingness to help others often vilify people who receive help. We hear it regarding food stamps. But who is the villain here?
SNAP reaches about 47 million people in 23 million low-income households, according to the Center on Budget Policy and Priorities. Recipients include families with children, elderly people and people with disabilities, as well as adults in low-wage jobs, unemployed people and those living on fixed incomes.
The program worked exactly as intended during the recession and slow recovery. It helped families get through lean times and even dulled some of the recession's impact on local economies. The growth in SNAP enrollment is temporary. It will decrease as the economy improves. The program is not growing faster than the overall economy and is not contributing to the nation's long-term fiscal problems, according to the center. Even the payment error rate is at an all-time low.
"While House Republicans created more uncertainty for the poor, they fattened agriculture subsidies, the vast majority of which go to the largest operations," observed the Lexington Herald-Leader in Kentucky. "House Republicans even did away with a limit approved by the Senate on federal farm aid to people making more than $750,000 a year."All of these details confirm what was already clear: You can always count on today's GOP to "balance" the budget on the backs of hungry children, low-income workers and the elderly.