One of the most outrageous components of the Farm Bill is that millionaire Rep. Paul Ryan wants to deny people food stamps if they own adequate transportation.
Beyond the $20 billion in cuts that will throw an estimated two million children, elderly, and disabled Americans off food stamps, millionaire Rep. Paul Ryan is pushing an amendment that would close the door to assistance for the vast majority of Americans. Ryan and Rep. Frank Lucas are proposing that categorical eligibility be eliminated and replaced with an asset limit. If an individual has $2,000 in savings, or a car worth more than $5,000, they will not be eligible for food stamps.
The CBO found that the impact of the move to an asset limit would throw 1.8 million people off of the program. The Hill reported that, “In 2011, only 2 percent of all SNAP households had gross monthly incomes above the poverty line. Most of those were low-income single mothers whose disposable income was actually below the poverty level when childcare expenses were factored in. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that 1.8 million people would lose food assistance if categorical eligibility is eliminated. Most of these would be low-income seniors and working families with children. These families typically live paycheck to paycheck. Denying them the ability to save for emergencies, such as fixing a car, or unexpected expenses, such as buying a uniform for a new job, only makes them more dependent on government resources, not less.”
What Reps. Ryan and Lucas are really looking for are criteria that will allow them to throw as many poor people off of the program as possible. Essentially, Ryan and Lucas are trying to deny poor people food because they have a car. The $5,000 limit for automotive value is ridiculous. A car that is worth less than $5,000 is unlikely to be a reliable vehicle. For elderly, disabled, or working poor people, a car is often their only way to look for a job, get to work, or get to the doctor.
It is the ultimate hypocrisy for millionaires like Paul Ryan to be telling a poor person that they have no right to own reliable transportation.
Transportation is often the key to a poor person finding work. Without reliable transportation, you can’t get a job. The majority of Americans on food stamps are children and the disabled. Those children will now be thrown off the program if their family owns a used car worth more than a junkyard clunker.
Ryan is proud of the fact that his legislation would condemn millions of vulnerable Americans to a life of hunger. For Paul Ryan, everything is an Ayn Rand fantasy. Ryan is using poverty as a weapon, because in his view there can only be one winner in the battle of makers versus takers.
Where the rest of us see a grandmother or a child, Paul Ryan sees a leech who is sucking the system dry.
In his warped mind Paul Ryan thinks that starving millions of Americans is a good thing, and he will use any means necessary to make sure that his “makers” emerge victorious.
Jason is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association