Beginning Nov. 1, food stamp cutbacks meant $36 per month less for a family of four.
Public servants like Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan and Democratic former President Bill Clinton point to the failure of poverty programs to end poverty, and then slash those program budgets or abolish them altogether. Clinton’s actions did away with Aid to Families with Dependent Children in a fell swoop he dubbed “welfare reform.”
Meanwhile, the chronic test failure of anti-missile rockets never results in budget cuts, but is called reason enough for more funding. The latest miss by the “missile defense” project occurred July 5 over the Pacific, adding to a near perfect record of total flops or faked hits. The rocket business is one welfare program that is never declared fraudulent or wasteful except by scientists, honest think tanks and military watchdog groups.
Today a lot of Republicans claim the food stamp program – officially the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP – is rife with fraud. They say, “ineligible people get food stamps!” So Congress dogs the poor who may not vote and don’t donate to campaigns, while doling out billions to missile contractors Lockheed, Martin, Boeing, TRW and Raytheon, etc. in exchange for millions in re-election cash.
So the House adopted a farm bill in July that for the first time since 1973 eliminates food stamps A Senate bill approved in May cut about $4.5 billion from the program, mainly by altering eligibility rules.
The percentage of our population that uses food stamps went up from 8.7 in 2007 to 15.2 in 2012. This near doubling is partly the result of the Great Recession, high unemployment, and the fact that Republicans have made deep cuts in unemployment benefits.
The House action will eliminate about 5.1 million people from SNAP, according to a report by the Health Impact Project. Almost half a million people who get food stamps but still do not get enough to eat (the average SNAP amount is $134 a month) would lose their eligibility for the stamps. The HIP study found that food stamps cuts will not just affect the ability of low-income people to feed themselves, but would also increase poverty.
Independent analysts like MIT Prof. of Science, Technology and International Security Theodore Postol argue that “ballistic missile defense” can’t work — interceptor missiles can never distinguish real incoming weapons from swarms of decoys — and should be canceled.
Still, spending for BMD over three decades totals about $200 billion — $130 billion by 2000, according to the Center for Strategic & Budget Assessments — and about $10 billion every year since then. Last March, President Obama announced another $1 billion in funding to add 14 new “interceptor” missile pads to the 26 already deployed in Fort Greely, Alaska.
The same Congressional budget cutters who call for “small” government have ensured that useless military boondoggles in their districts stay big – even while providing fewer jobs per billion spent than any other sector of expenditure.
John LaForge writes for PeaceVoice, is co-director of Nukewatch — a nuclear watchdog and environmental justice group in Wisconsin — and edits their quarterly newsletter.