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Cary Brunswick

July 23, 2013

Minimum wage, food stamps have their place

Actions by congressional Republicans this year show they apparently have declared an all-out war against low-income citizens and the poor.

The poor, it seems, have more of a right to have guns than decent meals each day.

A few weeks ago, the Republican-led House cut the national food stamp program from its new farm bill, setting up a fight sometime soon over what our government should be doing to help those who can’t afford to adequately feed their children or themselves.

And given the disdain the GOP has for those less fortunate, the prospects are not good. The poor, for many well-off Republicans, are just lazy moochers, as some lawmakers obviously agree with Mitt Romney’s assessment of the 47 percent of people who would never vote for him.

There may be some merit to severing food stamps from farm bills, since linking them was a political move back in the 1970s to gain urban lawmaker support for agricultural programs. The motive for the recent House action, however, was primarily to pursue cuts in food aid for the poor.

Lawmakers are so alienated from real-life situations that they don’t realize abusers of the program make up just a small fraction of those receiving food stamps. 

In April, more than 47 million people from 23 million households were beneficiaries. Nearly 50 percent are children, 30 percent are working poor who don’t earn enough to pay all their bills, and about a fifth are senior citizens or disabled. The average benefit is about $130 a month for an individual and around $270 for a household.

What irks the Republicans, especially those with Tea Party backing, is that the cost for the program, officially the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, has doubled, understandably, since the economy crashed five years ago. Now, about one in seven Americans benefit. 

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Cary Brunswick

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