House Republicans Decide On 'Policy' To Support, Surprise, It Is F*ck The Poors
Republicans are still casting about for excuses to not raise the debt ceiling. And since Joe Biden keeps calling attention to their calls for cuts to Social Security and Medicare, their latest strategy for an actual "policy" to support seems to be yet another trip to the well of resentment against poor people living it up on food assistance programs, since that worked so well for Ronald Reagan a million years ago. The Washington Post reports (gift link) that "Top House Republicans" are looking into possible cuts to the Agriculture Department's Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), which was formerly known as "Food Stamps." Or maybe they'll try adding work requirements, because it would be a far better use of scarce food dollars to add a layer of bureaucracy that ends up excluding people from the program because they miss paperwork deadlines.
The Post explains that Republicans are super-mad about the Biden administration's increases in SNAP benefits, because people who are poor are just lazy and cost too much.
[GOP leaders] have attacked the Biden administration for its recent benefit increases. They have called for limiting aid to entire categories of recipients, including poor adults without children. And they have raised the potential they could seek even tougher work requirements.
“We need to go back to the Clinton-era welfare-to-work reforms,” Rep. Jodey Arrington (R-Tex.), the leader of the House Budget Committee, said in a recent interview. He referred to GOP-led efforts in the 1990s — backed by the White House at the time — that imposed a raft of limitations on federal benefit programs.
Never mind that work requirements don't actually cut poverty, and sometimes actually result in additional hardship. Republicans like work requirements, because they make a show of forcing lazy takers to actually earn their public funds, or at least jump through meaningless hoops, which is the same thing.
A statement from Arrington's committee claimed work requirements would
save tens of billions and spur economic growth,” while strict verification processes from applicants would cut down on waste, fraud and abuse.
There has never been a shred of evidence for any of that, but again, it's popular messaging for the Fox News crowd, and that's all House Republicans want anyway.
Godless commie food policy experts, who can't be trusted because they don't understand that desperation is the same as "opportunity," warn that maybe slashing SNAP would be "bad," because it could
worsen an existing hunger crisis. Adding to their concerns, the debate arrives only two months after Congress agreed to terminate a pandemic-era initiative that boosted benefits in some states. The move could send some SNAP recipients’ monthly allotments plummeting by an average of $82 each month starting in March, according to the Food Research and Action Center, an anti-hunger advocacy group. The looming cut stands in stark contrast to federal inflation indicators released this week showing that food prices remain on the rise.
“We are strained to the breaking point with a major increase in demand coming next month,” said Vince Hall, the chief government relations officer for Feeding America, a nonprofit network of more than 200 food banks that provided more than 5 billion meals last year. “It is deeply disturbing to contemplate even further reductions to the SNAP program.”
In addition to the stupid fight over the debt ceiling, the Post points out, there's a whole 'nother deadline coming later this year: the farm bill, the package of federal laws authorizing nutrition programs like SNAP and others, as well as farm subsidies, needs to be either reauthorized or extended at the end of September. So even if Republicans decide not to crash the economy by defaulting on the national debt, they can keep demagoguing about SNAP for a few months past any debt limit increase. Should the farm bill not be reauthorized or given a short-term extension, "millions of farmers and families alike could experience significant economic disruptions this fall." Well, heck, only families deserve to suffer, so maybe the GOP will reauthorize ag subsidies and let the food programs lapse. Nobody they know is getting food assistance anyway.
In fact, several of the worst Republicans in the House last week demanded new work requirements, for the good of people receiving SNAP, of course. Led by congressforehead Matt Gaetz (R-Florida), the group
specifically pointed to the need to make “structural reforms of SNAP,” saying such rules would restore “dignity” for beneficiaries.
“Breaking this poverty trap will help future generations avoid welfare programs altogether,” wrote Gaetz and others, including Reps. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) and Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.).
As it is, there are already work requirements for SNAP recipients, but Republicans worry states have too much leeway to waive parts of the requirements, and that makes poor people undignified, not to mention less hungry. if only they understood that work will set them free!
Eliminating such waivers is one idea Republicans are batting around, along with sharper limits on how long families can receive nutritional benefits, after which they'll have to stop being poor and hungry, and then the problem will be solved.
Democrats, pointing to President Biden's calls for expanding SNAP eligibility, have pledged to defend SNAP benefits and to resist new work requirements. They even point out that nutrition programs ought to feed people instead of punishing them for being poor, as if that made any kind of sense. Next they'll be saying that healthcare is a right, or that policing should involve keeping communities safe instead of terrorizing them.
In conclusion, expect to see a lot more Fox News stories like this one that ran Tuesday, in which a minor rightwing activist in Portland, Oregon, claims homeless people are using their food stamps to buy fentanyl. An allegedly shocking video taken by the activist supposedly shows "people on the streets appearing to dump out water bottles shortly before cashing in on the plastic to raise money to buy more drugs."
Given that the bottle deposit in Oregon is 10 cents per container, and a single dose of fentanyl has a street price of around $2, these folks must be using their SNAP cards to buy scores (haha! a drug joke!) of bottles of water to feed their habit, but that just shows you why we need to cut benefits for everyone, and if you can't trust a rightwing activist on Fox, who can you believe?
It's going to be a long, stupid two years.
[WaPo (gift link) / Center on Budget and Policy Priorities / Fox News]
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