The news out of Washington, D.C. over the past few weeks could be summed up in three words: "Syria, Syria, Syria." And rightfully so, since any build-up to military action abroad should be debated and analyzed from every possible angle. But all the news coverage being focused on this one specific story has had an attention-diverting effect on other stories of equal importance, stories that will actually end up having a much more direct impact on our nation's citizens.
For example, while all of the talk's been focused on what we're going to end up doing in Syria, the GOP has been doing their darndest to get rid of a whole lot of America's food stamps: $40 billion in cuts over the next ten years, to be exact.
That's Billion with a B.
As Representative Barbara Lee from right here in California put it: "Republicans are introducing $40 billion in cuts to SNAP, our nation's most effective anti-hunger program, and they're hoping that our attention is split and Congress is focusing only on Syria."
Luckily, the New York Times took notice of this bold move by the House GOP and responded by penning a rare op-ed that really needs to be perused. A snippet:
The Cantor plan would force an estimated four to six million people to lose the food stamps that now sustain them. It would invite state governments to ratchet benefits back further because they could use savings wrenched from the pantries of the poor for various other programs, including tax cuts. The measure's "work requirements" provide no job training funds yet mandate that able-bodied, childless adults who cannot find at least part-time employment will lose their food stamps after 90 days, even if the local unemployment rate is prohibitively high.
This move comes as a whopping 15% of Americans currently utilize the SNAP program. It also comes, as The Atlantic points out, at a time when 5.7% of American households experience "very low food security," a term that means, according to the USDA, "normal eating patterns of one or more household members were disrupted and food intake was reduced at times during the year because they had insufficient money or other resources for food." In other words, not having enough money to eat.
What makes this even more troubling is the fact that this number (5.7%, it should be noted, equals just about 7 million Americans) is unchanged from the previous year. Meaning that despite the fact the nation's economy has reportedly been progressing in the right direction, it hasn't yet made an impact where it counts for a large portion of Americans: An ability to obtain food. Removing a substantial amount of funding to a program that specifically does this is, guess what, not going to alleviate the problem. That's like saying, "People need homes, so maybe we should fix this problem by putting an end to a program that creates houses. That's the ticket, everyone!"
The House vote on the bill is set for Thursday which, if passed, will have to then be reconciled by the Senate version of the bill, one that currently "only" cuts $4 billion from food stamps over the next decade. So, even with a landslide passage, there's plenty of steps to be taken before this massive cut becomes a reality.
Still: This is all a good time for a reminder to all left-wing pacifists currently incensed at the White House for their continuing advancement of another middling war overseas. Just remember, the only other option currently available to elect in our country is literally a group that's taking food off the plates of the poor.
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