Conservative Republicans in Congress are pushing for more budget cuts targeted at the poorest Americans. The Food Stamp program, now called SNAP, (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) is headed for substantial funding reductions by the GOP leadership, which would cause millions of Americans to fall even deeper into poverty and face an emptier dinner table.
Congressional Republicans led by Budget Committee Chair Rep. Paul Ryan (WI) has "made no secret of their wish to gut the program. The House GOP budget would either cut millions of Americans off of food assistance or would substantially reduce the already-modest amount each family receives," according to Think Progress.
Ryan has been falsely claiming that the Food Stamp program is growing out of control and discounts its purpose as a much needed safety net. The number of people in need of food assistance is directly tied to the economy.
"A primary driver of the recent rapid caseload growth is the increase in the number of eligible households because of the recession. Poverty has increased substantially, from 12.5 percent in 2007 to 15.1 percent in 2010, resulting in more households qualifying for the program. And, the deep and prolonged nature of the recession has led to record levels of long-term unemployment, extending the length of time that unemployed individuals have needed SNAP. Between 2007 and 2010, as the unemployment rate more than doubled (from 4.6 percent to 9.6 percent), SNAP participation grew 56 percent," according to data from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
Currently, the SNAP program costs about $39 billion. As a percentage of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) Food Stamps only take 0.52%. By comparison, the 2013 Ryan Budget proposal would give away $3 trillion in federal revenue in the form of corporate tax breaks, and put $187,000 into the pockets of each American millionaire.
There is a strange moral vacuum in the redistribution of wealth policy that Ryan and the Republicans are trying to implement. What sort of society are they attempting to create?
If you follow the Republican budget line to some sort of conclusion, their policies only exaggerate what the government does to benefit the rich, at the expense of the poor. Is the goal to create a two class society? Ryan's plan changes the tax code, but does little to nothing to reduce the deficit. Therefore, the argument that it is all being done in the name of fiscal responsibility is a travesty.
What the right-wing radicals have been trying to do is change the rules for acceptable moral behavior in 21st century America. Their message is clear; the safety nets of the New Deal must be stripped away because helping the weak is not worth paying for. The Republican message says giving more money to the rich is money better spent than wasting it on the poor.
A generation ago there were clearer lines defining what is morally right and morally wrong, not in a religious sense, but in awareness of compassion toward humanity as a whole. In other words, there was once a higher standard for the definition of just doing the right thing.
It is difficult to refute claims that there is a sense of meanness in the Republican attitude toward the poor and Paul Ryan's budget plan.
Ryan said, “We are sharpening the contrast between the path that we’re proposing and the path of debt and decline the president has placed us upon.”
"Ryan is right about sharpening the contrast," writes the Christian Science Monitor. "But the plan doesn’t do much to reduce the debt.…The real contrast is over what the plan does for the rich and what it does to everyone else…The money would come out of programs for the elderly, lower-middle families, and the poor."
When budget cuts are so obviously focused on painful cuts to programs that help individuals so that more money can be given away to corporations and millionaires, it is a sad accounting of the degradation of social moral choices and the government's role in preserving the balance in American society.
The level playing field America once prided herself on is slated for destruction by design from the 2012 Republican Party. There is no other way to interpret the 2013 Paul Ryan budget based on the facts, which the GOP would probably prefer stay hidden from the public until after the next election.