It is safe to say that all human beings have at one time or another experienced a compelling desire for food, and in extreme cases, hunger produces a painful sensations or a state of weakness caused by the lack of food that most Americans assume is not a problem in the richest nation in the history of the world. It is also safe to say that any American who deliberately withheld food from other Americans when they had resources to feed them would epitomize profound immorality or in the Christian biblical sense, sheer evil. There is an epidemic of evil in America characterized by Republicans who are intent on withholding food from Americans knowing full well that nearly 25% of children living in poverty and one out of six American adults experience hunger on a daily basis, and as part of the conservative agenda are on an active crusade to increase those numbers to enrich the wealthy.
In the waning months of the 112th Congress, House Republicans failed to pass a farm bill because they could not agree on steep enough cuts to the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP, food stamps) even after the Senate that Speaker John Boehner said had to “get off their asses” and get to work passed a bipartisan agreement cutting food stamps by $4.5 billion over the next decade. The Senate cuts were predicated on projections that as unemployment dropped, fewer Americans would require food assistance, but it was not nearly harsh enough for House Republicans. Since they failed to pass a bill in the last Congress, both the Senate and the House have to begin anew coming up with a new round of cuts to increase hunger among the working poor, children, and seniors who experience hunger every day of their lives. The issue for Republicans in the House last years was their proposed food stamp cuts of $16.5 billion that eliminated over 3 million recipients was not enough for fiscal hawks who determined that until they could reach Paul Ryan’s Path to Prosperity food stamp cuts of $125 billion over five years, they would let the farm bill languish and wait until this year to create despair for the working poor, farmers, and the economy.
In the new Congress, House Republicans are proposing that a new farm bill mandate at least $20 billion over five years in (SNAP) cuts as a temporary fix until they can convince Democrats and President Obama to accept the Ryan plan and cut $125 billion over five years as a starting point of a ten year plan and eliminate food assistance for 13 million more hungry working Americans and seniors in their version of common sense cuts. The good news for Republicans is that not only will their proposal increase hunger for Americans primarily in Republican states, but they can claim victory in creating harm for farmers and the American economy they have been yearning to deal a death knell to so they can portray President Obama as a failure for driving America into another recession. The Republican sequester will do enough damage to the economy and raise unemployment, but that is just the opening salvo in their drive to send the nation into deeper recession than their 8-year assault during the Bush administration.
When most economic experts are calling for increasing funding for food stamps to alleviate hunger and stimulate the economy, House Republicans are angry the Senate’s proposal last year was far too generous, and it is likely they were counting on a different election result and holding out for real damage inherent in the Ryan budget. Speaker John Boehner admitted the reason the House refused to pass any farm bill was “we’ve got people who believe there’s not enough reform (read cuts) in last year’s bill” coupled with their opposition to the President who they claim expanded food stamps as “the food stamp President” that Newt Gingrich parroted during last year’s Republican primaries. The rise in food stamp use is directly correlated to the rise in poverty as the result of massive job losses from Republican malfeasance, and created an inordinate amount of poverty-level Americans who were eligible for the program. What is curious, is that Republican counties are responsible for most of the food stamp growth in the nation and their support for Republican demands to enact deeper cuts is a crude manner of self-punishment for themselves and millions of other low-income working Americans who depend on food stamps to stave off hunger Republicans pant to increase.
There is an economic downside to cutting food stamps that Republicans seem oblivious to and it is another level of the evil inherent in the GOP fiscal lunacy preventing economic growth. For every dollar the government spends on food stamps, there is $1.84 in economic benefit, and the level of cuts Republicans are demanding will hit the Midwest particularly hard because it depresses food sales that hurt farmers who are typically Republican voters. As food sales slump, the downstream job losses will drive the number of Americans in poverty higher, but unfortunately for them, the program will be slashed and more Americans will be hungry which seems to be the intent of Republicans in Congress.
The level of immorality Republicans are demonstrating toward the American people who are struggling has not gone unnoticed in some Washington circles. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s communication director said, “Just when you think you’ve seen the extent of the House GOP’s misguided priorities, they strike at the ability of millions of low-income children, the elderly, and American families to put food on the table.” One of the Senate Republicans, Thad Cochran of Mississippi, who supported the Senate bill last year opposes the proposed House cuts because, like so many Republican states, their working poor, seniors, and child residents rely on nutrition assistance leading him to say, “I come from a state where we have higher-percentage participation than the national average, and I have never had to apologize in Mississippi for supporting it.” Democratic leaders in the House wasted little time assailing the Draconian cuts in the Republicans proposal and said, “SNAP doesn’t just offer much-needed support to vulnerable Americans, it provides a significant boost to the economy, nearly doubling the return of every dollar we put into it.” Still, House Republicans are unfazed by humanitarian calls to stop deliberately creating an epidemic of hunger, and the working poor, children, and seniors will be fortunate if only 3 million Americans are thrown off the food stamp program.
With such devastation inherent in cutting something as beneficial as food stamps that up until 2009 enjoyed wide bipartisan support, one can only conclude Republicans have begun a full-on shift toward following the Ayn Rand ideology of punishing the poor just because they are poor. Subsequently, Republicans will impose hunger on seniors, children, and poverty-level working Americans regardless they are white, Republicans, and farmers that typically support the Republicans who are creating hunger for millions of Americans for no apparent reason other than they lack an ounce of humanity, and that is, beyond a shadow of a doubt the definition of sheer evil; and the Republican Party.