WASHINGTON (Reuters) - On a party-line vote, a Republican-run U.S. House of Representatives committee voted to cut food stamps by $844 million on Friday, just hours after a new government report showed more Americans are struggling to put food on the table.
About 300,000 Americans would lose benefits due to tighter eligibility rules for food stamps, the major U.S. antihunger program, under the House plan. The cuts would be part of $3.7 billion pared from Agriculture Department programs over five years as part of government-wide spending reductions.
The House plan would also cut U.S. crop supports by $1 billion, land stewardship by $760 million, research by $620 million and rural development by $446 million.
There are undoubtedly people collecting food stamps that shouldn't be, and that is just plain wrong, but making wholesale cuts like this is the wrong way to address abuse. When you put this amount of money spent on food stamps and other subsidies in the perspective of what we are spending per day in Iraq they just become mean spirited acts meant to screw the little guy. What are we talking here, a week of misplaced and misguided war? Two weeks?
To make it even more stupid, these kind of cuts fly in the face of the government's own research...
A new Agriculture Department report found 38.2 million Americans "were food insecure" in 2004, an increase of nearly 2 million from the previous year. Tufts University food economist Parke Wilde food insecurity "now equals the worst levels" since recordkeeping began a decade ago.
USDA said 11.9 percent of households, "at some time during the year, had difficulty providing enough food for all their members due to a lack of resources."
I have been around the kind of people that really need assistance with food all my life and I know first hand what happens when they are pressed. The first things to go are the high nutrition foods like milk and meat. They are replaced by "belly fillers" which are almost always high carbohydrate foods like macaroni and rice. The childrens' diets lose protein and gain nothing of value. The long term effect is childhood obesity and the resultant problems with cardiovascular disease and diabetes. This doesn't even address the issues surrounding poor nutrition and learning which are significant. Not providing for nutritious food, especially for children, is guaranteeing problems and high costs later. Food stamps are an investment in our future and not "give-away".