So when Speaker John Boehner says the country is “broke,” does he understand the economy or is he just being his usual disingenuous self, providing cover for the GOP’s one-percent benefactors?
America’s vast oceans of cash explain why China continues to snap up U.S. Treasuries. Beijing knows the full faith and credit of the United States are as sound as ever.
Our nation’s massive wealth also puts into perspective the $80 billion we spend annually on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or food stamps. That number represents a few measly scraps from America’s abundant table and just one-tenth of what the U.S. spends on defense.
So it was appalling last week when House Republicans, including Phil Gingrey and Tom Price, gleefully passed legislation that would cut nearly $40 billion from SNAP, more evidence of their relentless campaign to punish America’s most vulnerable, including 170,000 veterans who would be dropped from the program.
“Anyone who genuinely supports cutting food stamps is not an intellectual or an ideologue — they’re a bully,” wrote 35-year-old Afghanistan combat vet Jason Kirell, a SNAP recipient. “And nobody likes a bully. Except other bullies.”
Some bullies even have the temerity to quote scripture to justify their disgraceful behavior.
“If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat,” tea party Rep. Kevin Cramer, an evangelical Christian from North Dakota smugly pontificated last week. It’s worth noting the farmers who elected his sanctimonious hypocrite have, since 2009, collected more than $10 billion in federal agricultural subsidies — not to work.
“We don’t want to turn the safety net into a hammock that lulls able-bodied people to lives of dependency and complacency,” added Republican Rep. Paul Ryan, casually stereotyping all SNAP recipients as indolent freeloaders. In fact, two-thirds of those relying on food stamps are elderly, disabled and children.
Like Cramer and Ryan, I was going to get preachy, reminding readers what Jesus had to say about how we’d better treat “the least of these” — and what to expect if we don’t. See the gospel of Matthew if you’re interested.
I’ll focus instead on the excuses mouthed by conservatives for cutting SNAP in half and hurting nearly four million of the least of these.
They claim fraud is rampant in the SNAP program. In reality, fraud represents just one percent of the program, according to the Department of Agriculture, which administers SNAP for benefit of those requiring food assistance as well as the agricultural industry that produces America’s bounty.
If House Republicans were really serious about fraud, they’d demand defense contractors repay $1.1 trillion the Pentagon says they bilked during George W. Bush’s disastrous presidency. Ah, but the military-industrial complex has the best lobbyists money can buy. The poor don’t.
No, you can’t use food stamps to “buy porn and liquor” as Fox News blowhard Eric Bolling declared. And millionaires don’t qualify for food stamps even if the Wall Street Journal’s Stephen Moore says they do.
Pope Francis, spiritual leader of America’s 78 million Catholics, spoke out passionately last weekend on the economic injustice that makes programs like food stamps and welfare necessary in the first place.
“Men and women have to be at the center (of an economic system) as God wants, not money,” he told an audience in Italy. “The world has become an idolater of this god called money … We want a just system that helps everyone.”
Let us pray the Republican money changers in Washington are listening.
Kevin Foley is a public relations executive, author and writer in Kennesaw.