Sunday, June 2, 2013

House GOP Cuts $2.5 Billion from Federal Farm Bill's Food Assistance Program // Uses Bible to Justify Cuts

This is 2-3 weeks late, but really got me angry when I read about it. Back in mid-May, the House Agriculture Committee approved $2.5 billion in annual cuts to domestic food aid programs that are included in the Federal Farm Bill. One in seven Americans depends of these benefits to provide enough food (and sometimes not enough food) to them and their families. Rep. Juan Vargas (D-CA) fought back against these cuts by quoting portions of Matthew 25 from the Bible:
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

41 Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44 They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45 He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.
Rep. Michael Conaway (R-TX) argued that this is an individual's responsibility, not the governments' responsibility, despite the fact that this portion of Matthew is often referred to as "The Judgment of the Nations."

Then Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-TN) pulled out this zinger from Matthew 26 to further justify these cuts:
11 The poor you will always have with you
I mean, why bother? Why waste money supporting the poor who will always exist?

Here is the scary truth. I see this play out in front of me nearly every day when I'm at work. I could see this play out for me and for pretty much every person in my life. We are all much more likely to become the have-nots instead of the haves. 58.5% of Americans will spend at least one year of our adulthood living below the federal level of poverty (that was $23,050 for a household of four in 2012). Sadly, I spent more money paying for this week's groceries for my own family of four than most food stamp recipients receive all month for their own families -- and I really try to budget.

It takes one job loss for many to fall below that line. Or one medical crisis. People dream of becoming rich, but ignore the systemic elimination of middle class jobs and working wages. It seriously terrifies me and keeps me up late at night.

The food banks cannot keep up with demand. It's not just the jobless who are seeking assistance. Most people who work at your local fast food restaurant or your local gas station or grocery store cannot support their families solely through their work wages. They are supplementing their monthly earned incomes with donated food items from churches and community programs. These programs cannot meet the needs of the working poor and the jobless poor without the help of federal food assistance programs. There is no way they can do it.

Meanwhile, the state of Iowa just approved sweeping commercial property tax cuts that will pull even more money from state and county budgets. How do you think those cuts will play out?

1 comment:

"STUFFED ANIMAL" said...

It's like the powers-that-be are trying to figure out how much blood they can squeeze out of a turnip . . . how low will the American people let their standard of living fall until they say "enough already"? Living in an urban area as I do, the living conditions for working people are worse than I've ever seen them. It's playing out in increased homelessness and hunger, increased drug and alcohol abuse and badly frayed tempers.