Puerto Rico Cutting Food Stamps Because Mitch McConnell's A Dick
Photo: Army National Guard, November 2017

Remember that weird story about how Donald Trump became convinced, on the basis of nothing, that Puerto Rico was mis-spending hurricane relief funds on its debt, and didn't want a single dollar in aid going to Puerto Rico? Turns out he may have gotten his way, since emergency aid has been bottled up in Congress since January. $600 million in additional nutrition assistance funding passed the House, but so far, the Senate hasn't touched it. So now Puerto Rico is cutting back on food stamp payments by an average of 25 percent, to make the existing funding last just a little bit longer. And there's no telling when more funding will be made available. Donald Trump is more interested in WALL right now, so those people on that island in the big water will just have to tough it out. They shouldn't have let that one mayor lady say mean things about Trump, probably. Hey, what's on "Fox and Friends"?

The cutbacks began today, and they're having an immediate effect, as the Washington Post reports:

Because of emergency funding from Congress, food stamp benefits for Puerto Rico residents rose to $649 a month for a family of four after Hurricane Maria, matching the size of the benefit a family of four typically receives in the rest of the United States. But with cuts starting, Puerto Rico has returned to paying $410 a month for a family of four on food stamp benefits, or about 40 percent less than that received by U.S. families, a spokesman for Puerto Rico's Department of Family Affairs said.

About 43 percent of people living on Puerto Rico receive food assistance -- that's 1.3 million residents. And now they'll get to learn the good old American value of tightening their belts, or perhaps whatever salvaged bits of rope they're using, because the Senate doesn't see any reason to hurry or anything. The Trump administration had initially opposed the Democratic plan to send $600 million in additional emergency aid as "excessive and unnecessary," but has recently decided it would be OK as part of a package being proposed by Republican Sen. David Perdue of Georgia, though there's no indication it's a priority or anything:

The prospects of a deal are uncertain. Perdue included funding for the Puerto Rico food stamps program in a separate bill aiming to give financial aid for farmers in states such as Georgia to improve the legislation's chances of passing, a spokeswoman for Perdue said.

There is no vote scheduled or timeline for passage. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) may bring up Perdue's legislation this month, according to another source with knowledge of the issue who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the source was not authorized to comment publicly on the matter.

Oh, yes, and even if that extra $600 million were approved, it'll only fund the island's food stamp program through September at the higher emergency amount.

The Puerto Rican newspaper El Nuevo Dia profiled some of the people being immediately affected, including 53-year-old Oscar Rivera, who in addition to having diabetes and cancer himself, cares for his mother, who has Alzheimer's. Before the cuts, he received $260 a month in his own food stamp benefit; after the cuts, since he's a strapping fellow who could probably make something of himself if he'd just work harder, he'll have to make $112 stretch for the whole month. He told the paper, "I will try to buy the basics. I will buy rice and the most necessary things that I need for my diet. If I could work, I would go to work, but I can not" (via Google translate). Maybe he should look into Bitcoin.

Vicenta Santiago, 71, and her 82-year-old husband had been getting by with $400 a month in food stamps, but today's cuts will leave them having to cut out little luxuries like maybe their telephone, and possibly water, and maybe just staying in the dark if they have to. Nuevo Dia didn't say how much the couple's food stamps were cut, but they'll probably be fine, since they also get Social Security in the princely sum of $800 a month, which if you throw in their remaining food stamps, might almost pay for a two-night stay at Donald Trump's Washington DC hotel, depending on the room, and we want to know why they're living it up in a luxury hotel like that?

In conclusion, everything is fine, no hurry in Congress here! Better hope there's no more hurricanes before September! And whatever you people do, don't do anything to make Trump mad. Or let him think he heard you did something bad, even if you didn't.

[WaPo / El Nuevo Dia / Photo: National Guard Photo by Spc. Hamiel Irizarry]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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