Today the House of Representatives voted 217-210 to cut $39 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). All the House Democrats and 15 Republicans voted against the cuts. None of the 15 Republicans were from Missouri.
As House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) noted, “Every person who votes for this Republican measure is voting to hurt his or her own constituents.” For a Missouri perspective on Pelosi’s comment consider that 15% of Missouri’s population – about 933,000 people – are expected to receive SNAP benefits in 2014. SNAP funding in Missouri in 2014 is already due to be diminished by $96 million when temporary funding from the 2009 Recovery Act expires on November 1. The bill our Missouri GOPers voted for today will take an additional $40 billion from the entire program over the next 10 years – pushing 4 and 6 million people across the U.S. out of the program. Be assured the new cuts will hit Missouri hard. The U.S. Department of Agriculture ranks Missouri second in the nation in percentage of households with “very low food security.”
SNAP aid is usually included in the farm bill. It was separated out this year so that a bill with hefty agricultural subsidies could be passed without wrangling with the Senate about the SNAP cuts that killed an earlier effort at a Farm Bill. Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-4), a Missouri farmer who manages to pull in plenty of those agricultural handouts, indicated that she was going to vote to cut food aid because:
“This bill helps people get back to work,” Hartzler said. “It also cuts down on the waste, fraud and abuse in the SNAP program.”
You read it right. According to Hartzler – and other GOP bozos who are attempting to put a good face on their votes today – starvation creates jobs.
Sorry, Vicky, no matter what you try to make us believe, we don’t have 7.1% unemployment in Missouri because folks are lazy. There aren’t enough jobs to go around – thanks to the Bush recession that GOP ideologues like Hartzler helped engineer. Actually, given the fact that the minimum wage hovers around $7, there are plenty of working folks whose families won’t eat without SNAP aid. KOMU in Columbia quoted a man named Jack Bhutod whose situation is all too common:
I’m supporting a family of three on a low wage job and we can’t afford the food we need without food stamps, … “Hunger is not a game for us. We need to eat.
As for fraud, if it were really a problem, then Hartzler’s GOP fellow-traveler, Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD), wouldn’t have had to tell overt lies in order to try to make that case. Food stamp fraud rates are among the lowest of any federal program.
So fraud and lazy lay-abouts aren’t don’t pose real problems. But no matter – we should give our Missouri GOPers some leeway . Most of them probably don’t really understand too much about hunger since almost all of them have an average net worth well above a million dollars (see also here). Nor do they really have to be too concerned about constituents who are in a daily struggle with hunger. Poor people, after all, aren’t the folks who pay the campaign bills.