Four years after we’re told the recession ended, one-third of the country is relying on food aid from the federal government.
The number of people receiving food assistance, 101 million, now exceeds the number of full-time private sector workers, around 97 million.
Those receiving food aid participate in at least one of the Department of Agriculture’s 15 food programs, which cost $114 billion in the 2012 fiscal year.
The recent omnibus farm bill went down to defeat largely because it included significant cuts to the food stamp program. On Wednesday, the GOP House leadership reintroduced the farm bill with the food stamp cuts split into a separate piece of legislation.
Reductions in food aid programs are a hot potato politically precisely because so many people are dependent on them.
Observers of the Obama Administration have often concluded that the president and the Democratic Party want to increase dependency on the federal government in order to secure a large base of Democratic voters.
The GOP leadership plays right into their hands by promoting large cuts without considering the total picture of what’s been happening to the American household under the Democrats’ thumb.
Food aid programs are not particularly generous given today’s food prices in many states. They help, but despite stories you hear of fraud, most people on food stamps aren’t eating New York steaks or salmon as a rule.
Also, food stamps are a last resort for a lot of people. Simple compassion for fellow humans dictates that they shouldn’t be the first target of budget cuts.
If the Republican Party sincerely wants to trim the federal food aid budget without alienating the entire country, then it needs to focus not on cuts that will leave many people in need.
Rather, Republicans should be creating an economic environment that will produce jobs and business opportunities, and reduce the cost of food in the grocery stores.
That would pit them yet once more against Administration policies, but it would pit them against the right policies, rather than positioning them as enemies of the poor and the struggling middle class.