Monday, September 23, 2013

GOP Hunger Games: House Votes To Deny Food Assistance To Millions

House Republicans' approval on Thursday of about $40 billion in cuts over 10 years to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) would eliminate food assistance to 4 to 6 million low-income people, increasing hunger and poverty. Despite GOP sanctimoniousness about "dependency," the fact is that use of food stamps increased as a result of the scarcity of jobs. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has the dire statistics regarding the Republicans' hunger games:

The people whom the proposal would cut off SNAP include but are not limited to:

• 2 million to 4 million poor, unemployed, childless adults who live in areas of high unemployment — a group that has average income of just 22 percent of the poverty line (about $2,500 a year for a single individual) and for whom SNAP is, in most cases, the only government assistance they receive;
• 1.8 million people, mostly low-income working families and low-income seniors, who have gross incomes or assets modestly above the federal SNAP limits but disposable income (the income the family has available to spend on food and other needs) below the poverty line in most cases, often because of high housing or child care costs. Some 210,000 children in these families also would lose free school meals;
 • Millions of other very low-income, unemployed parents who want to work but cannot find work or an opening in a training program — along with their children other than infants.

...The proposed cuts, which would be on top of a substantial across-the-board benefit reduction for all SNAP households scheduled to take effect in November, would come at a time when the economy continues to struggle to offer jobs for all who want to work. The economy is creating only 150,000 to 200,000 jobs a month, not much more than needed just to keep up with population growth. Moreover, the percentage of adults with jobs has barely risen since the bottom of the recession.

Though SNAP benefits are modest, at an average of less than $1.50 per person per meal, SNAP is the nation’s foremost tool against hunger and hardship, particularly during recessions and periods of high unemployment. During the recent recession, SNAP performed as it was designed to: as millions of Americans lost their jobs and fell into poverty, SNAP responded to the increase in need, helping to avert the harshest impacts of the recession and providing a boost to the economy...

The impact of these cuts on communities, as well as individuals, would be significant and felt throughout the country. The increased demand on already-strained local services and charities would be substantial — either displacing support for other needy residents, such as seniors and low-income working families, or leaving those cut off without sufficient food.

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