Religious fervor may be a mark of excellence from an individual’s perspective, but when a group of religious fanatics take their religious passion to the extreme it is relatively certain that some innocents are going to suffer. Although America was founded as a secular nation and its founding document prohibits Congress from legislating according to religion, a rabid group of religious Republicans are pushing an issue that is going to make over 45 million innocent Americans suffer by taking away their food.
Now that there is less than a week for Republicans in Congress to pass a spending bill, they are shoring up their support to shut down the government over whether or not they can legislate according to bastardized American neo-Christianity. On Tuesday, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) warned Congress, grocery stores, and poor children, the elderly, poverty-level working Americans, and the disabled that if Republicans shut down the government over women’s reproductive health, over 45 million Americans will go hungry. A USDA spokesperson said that
“USDA will not have the funding necessary for SNAP benefits in October and will be forced to stop providing benefits within the first several days of October.”
Unlike the last Republican government shutdown over being prohibited from taking away millions of Americans healthcare, there are no cash reserves available for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, food stamps) benefits to be dispersed as normal. The USDA alerted all state SNAP administrators not to process any October food stamp dollars as normal because the way things are looking, there is not going to be any funding for normal government operations on October 1st because religion, women’s reproductive health, and the lust “right wing Marxists” have to close the government.
As has been the case over the course of President Obama’s tenure in the White House, Republicans absorbed the news that over 45 million Americans will go hungry with a typically criminal hostage demand. The chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Pat Roberts (R-KS) said Democrats can allow 45 million low income Americans to eat if Democrats restrict millions of poor women from access to reproductive healthcare, cancer screenings, and family planning. Roberts said Democrats just have to get their religious house in order and “get on board with the GOP religious effort to cut off funding for low income women’s healthcare;” then 45 million Americans can eat in October.
Roberts said, “The best way to ensure SNAP recipients receive needed support is to vote for the continuing resolution” that wipes out low income women’s healthcare. “I’m prepared to do so, and if members are so worried about SNAP funding, they should too.”
Despite that Planned Parenthood has been cleared from wrongdoing in following 1993 legislation approving donating tissue to medical research, a growing number of Republicans want its funding cut off according to the religious right. If they cannot put an end to poor women’s healthcare access, they will happily put an end to poor children, the elderly, disabled, military personnel, and working families’ food assistance. It is the perfect hostage situation for religious Republicans because no matter what the congressional outcome, one substantial group of Americans is going to suffer.
According to data from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), nearly a half of all SNAP benefits go to children, and 82 percent of all SNAP benefits go to vulnerable houses that include a child, an elderly person, or disabled person; over sixty percent of that food aid goes to people holding down one, and often two, jobs; obviously poor children, elderly Americans, and disabled people cannot work. There are, by the way, very stringent asset tests for recipients, both individuals and family households. The recipients also have to be very poor, such as in earning below 130 percent of the federal poverty line, or about $25,700 a year for a family of four in fiscal year 2015. With minimum wage amounting to roughly $15,080 annually, it explains why so many working families require food assistance and why raising the minimum wage substantially may help reduce the need, and expense, to provide basic nutrition assistance for 45-plus million mostly working Americans to require aid just to feed their families.
It is typical that Republicans are not only willing to make 45 million poor Americans go hungry to “establish religion,” their ploy will also deal the economy more typical Republican damage. Shutting down the government and cutting off food assistance will adversely affect the economy because SNAP benefits not only pay for themselves, they “generate two dollars of economic activity for every dollar of benefits distributed by the USDA.” Economists have noted for decades that “plugging up the flow of money to low-income working families, the elderly, and disabled to grocery stores where they shop has a devastating ripple effect on businesses and tax revenue for public treasuries.”
The USDA also warned that the timing of this possible religious shutdown will “exacerbate that natural chain of harmful knock-on effects for most SNAP beneficiaries who have already spent down their full monthly benefit;” usually by the midpoint of any given month. The USDA’s advanced warning about SNAP benefits being cut off, although kind, does little to help Americans who have spent last month’s food stamp allotment, but according to some pundits it does “serve as a practical heads-up to the impending religious Republican damage to the economic ecosystem surrounding the food stamps program.”
Republicans cannot operate unless they are taking something from large numbers of Americans and when they face obstruction from Democrats their only recourse is shutting down the government. In the last shutdown Republicans wanted to take away affordable healthcare insurance from millions and millions of Americans; when they were stopped they shut down the government and cost Americans jobs and the government billions of dollars. Now they want desperately to take away women’s healthcare or they will shut down the government again.
It is blackmail, hostage-taking, and criminal by any reasonable standards and this time it is founded in a truly bastardized form of the Christian religion; something no politician is willing to say out loud. Oh, they throw around the “ideology” word, but let’s be honest; if Republicans cannot impose an evangelical and Catholic religious belief that Christians control women’s reproductive health, they have no qualms doing the Americanized neo-Christian thing and withhold food from over 45 million hungry children, seniors, disabled people, military families and hard-working underpaid Americans.