Tomorrow, November 1st, food stamps (also known as SNAP) will see across the board cuts of $5 billion, affecting one in seven Americans, many of whom are children, the elderly, or disabled.
The cuts come as Congress could not get their act together to continue the funding levels to SNAP that were passed in 2009, at the height of the recession in the Recovery Act. As we've seen, the recession isn't over and families are still struggling.
A one-person household will see a drop of $11 per month, while a family of four will see a reduction of $36 a month. It is rich (pun intended) for those Republicans in Congress to not understand the impact of these cuts when they'd easily spend $11 on a cocktail. Hell, even for those of us who aren't on SNAP and have at least some semblance of compassion for our fellow man it might be hard to wrap our head around how $36 could really make a difference in someone's life. I know I've dropped that at a happy hour without a second thought.
However, it does. One only needs to go to a grocery store at the beginning of the month to see the oftentimes heartbreaking scene of people meticulously price checking their food. Or while at the register forcing to put things back, because they don't have the money to pay for it. Or you could always participate in the SNAP Challenge and see what it's like to live on $1.50 per meal per day. Food pantries, that are already spread extremely thin, are concerned about an increase in people trying to utilize their services, and the very real thought they might have to turn people away.
All of this is certainly bleak, but even bleaker is the fact Republicans don't just want to stop at these cuts. House Republicans voted on a bill that would cut the program by $39 billion dollars over 10 years. This would disproportionately affect those without children, as they would now only be able to collect benefits for up to three months over a three-year period. This is unless they are able to hold down part-time work or are enrolled in job training programs, something which isn't easily accessible for all people who are unemployed.
Republicans have long been the party of the rich but their attacks on the poor have gotten to a place of absolute bullying (a Tweet this morning by comedian Rob Delaney summed it up perfectly... warning mild cursing in the link).
SNAP isn't the only program helping those in poverty that they have their crosshairs on. The Affordable Care Act, which yes, does have its issues, gives those who have never been insured a chance to not have to worry about being sick. It allows preventative care to be covered 100 percent, potentially saving people thousands in the long run. It would allow 9 million people without health insurance to have it.
Republicans like to self-identify as the party of God or Jesus or Christianity or holiness or whatever, and as someone who doesn't prescribe to a belief in any of those things, I have no problem with them trying to create a monopoly on those terms. However, one has to wonder what Jesus, who spoke so many times of helping your fellow man and that helping the poor is honoring God, would think about those people who invoke their belief in Him during points that are convenient for them (abortion or gay marriage, for example) but don't seem to care about some of the true tenants of his teachings, like helping those in need.
At a time when the national poverty rate has remained stagnant and when at least one in five children are food insecure, Republicans are showing what they really think of them. If they were the kind of people who actually believed in evolution, it would almost seem they were subscribing to a belief in a sort of social Darwinism. As Republican Stephen Fincher, a representative from Tennessee said, quoting a Bible passage, "Anyone unwilling to work should not eat." Fincher, it should be noted, has collected millions in farm subsidies. Assistance is good enough for him, a person in power, but far be it from the little man to receive their meager SNAP benefits in order to feed their families.
If it is a survival of the fittest the Republicans want, let's give it to them in November 2014, because they've already shown they have no hearts and no souls, which makes us fitter than all of them put together.