Food Stamp Vote: “Beyond Shameless,” “Rock Bottom,” “A New Low,” “Outright Cruelty”

I was working on a post to explain what the Republican Party, via the House of Representatives, did to needy people on Thursday, many of them victims of Republican economics that led to the financial meltdown in 2008, but MSNBC’s Chris Hayes did it all for me. And he has moving pictures!

Watch the segments below (about seven minutes each) and you will know all you need to know about how far the GOP has fallen—except that Hayes doesn’t mention that Ozark Billy Long, here in needy Southwest Missouri, was one of the 217 Republicans, barely enough to pass the bill, who voted to continue the Republican Party’s War On The Poor:

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20 Comments

  1. Duane, the two segments posted as just pictures, not clips.

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    • Jim, whatever’s wrong I can’t fix it right now because I’m in my car on the road, but when I posted it it played fine on my computer. I’m not sure what the problem is but I’ll have to look at it tomorrow. In the meantime I hope you may be able to click on the image and go straight to video or you can access the video on Chris Hayes’ MSNBC website.

      Duane

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  2. ansonburlingame

     /  September 20, 2013

    A $4 Billion cut in an $80 Billion program, a program that has doubled in size in about 4 plus years and here we go starving people, again!!!

    I would only ask that you post some pictures of starving, disease ridden kids in America that are in such conditions for lack of food stamps. I will in turn call the local cops to send them to arrest the parent(s) of such kids for child abuse, not lack of a caring society!!!

    Anson

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    • Anonymous

       /  September 20, 2013

      Cost of food pretty much cover that. If you have been the store to buy
      food it has been rising since Pres Bush was in office. Thank the oil companies for that.

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      • That’s correct – food inflation over the last 10 or so years has been through the roof. Of course that never gets calculated into the official inflation rate. So those cuts will be deeper than they appear on the surface.

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    • King Beauregard

       /  September 20, 2013

      Well, you’re “right” to the extent that the poor don’t live in the equivalent of the Irish Potato Famine, with not a morsel of food for miles and miles. Is that the only standard by which you would deem a person hungry or malnourished? Or is it sufficient to meet the living conditions of Dickensian street urchins?

      It is thanks to programs like SNAP, fostered by our government at the behest of good and decent people, that poverty is mitigated to a significant extent, so we don’t look like Victorian England. Also, our public schools feed children as best they can, and even give out food to help families make it through the weekend. But even so, there is still plenty of hunger, much of which has to do with a sluggish economy and a high unemployment rate (which has something to do with that increased SNAP spending).

      But no, I don’t think I can find you a photo of child holding a cap in his hands and saying “Excuse me guv’nor, might you spare a ha’penny so that I might buy a bowl of gruel and a scrap of bread?”

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  3. Duane – some of these Reps don’t even try any more to disguise their contempt for the poor. At least in the past, they sugar coated their ‘blame the victim’ attitudes.

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  4. House Representatives Billy Long and Vicky Hartzler, two of Missouri’s biggest critics of federal subsidies going to people in need, both feed from a mighty big trough. Billy must order from a menu’s herd selection when chowing down; Vicky makes out very well on the taxpayer’s nickle.

    http://voices.kansascity.com/entries/vicky-hartzlers-costly-farm-subsidy-hypocrisy/

    http://insidejoplin.com/?p=1260

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    • Indeed John – wonder if they pay full price in the House cafeteria? Betcha it’s subsidized.

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      • Billy has very generous campaign donors. I tallied up the cost of his food orgy for three months: $9,707.29. And “fiscal conservatives” bitch about food stamp moochers eating potato chips. I don’t know if they get free cafeteria grub, but they do get subsidized heath care insurance.

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  5. How was the cut implemented? I’ve heard the supposed $40,000,000,000, but I assume that’s the estimated effect of a change in eligibility criteria. I’d like to understand what was done exactly. Was the income to qualify raised, or something else? It might just result in less incentive to work and even be self defeating from the perspective of reducing the cost of SNAP. I think a story about one surfer dude on Fox wasn’t a very good basis for such a change (by itself).

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  6. The fact that they had no trouble passing Farm subsidies, but choke on food for kids in poor families is what makes it twice as bad.

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  7. ansonburlingame

     /  September 21, 2013

    There are some comments herein that provide room for a really meaningful discussion. Why exactly has “food inflation” become so ……? As well, just how much have food prices alone “inflated” over ten years or so. I have no idea. Looking at my own grocery bills, I suspect the number is big however.

    Here is another one to consider. I have begun working in local schools, one on one and in small groups with kids “on the margin” to become droputs. Here is one example. An 18 year old kid is essentially homeless. His father is a dead drunk, all the time. Mom got her life together and has “moved on” to better conditions but has “no room in her life” for the 18 year old, who sleeps on couches with “friends” all over town. But the 18 year old is REMAINING in school to graduate this coming spring. He get’s off work at midnight, sleeps wherever he can and arrives at school around 7:30 AM to start a new day.

    Now WHERE should scarce resources be FOCUSED in such a stituation? Put the money where it is NEEDED to “teach the 18 year how to fish” and not “giving fish” to EITHER Mom or Dad, is my call. But you know as well as I do that progressives will try to spread the money around to prevent ………..?

    My point is very simple. I submit there is more than enough money to keep that kid in school, give him plenty to eat and a safe and secure place to sleep. But just how much money goes to Dad, I wonder and what percent of such money is used strickly to support Dad, who in my view deserves NOTHING, not a cent of my tax money, nor Mom as well who while ‘getting her life together” leaves an 18 year old son in a terrible DITCH.

    Anson

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  8. All,

    There are two references in the Constitution to “Welfare.” The first is in the Preamble — “. . . establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence [sic], PROMOTE THE GENERAL WELFARE, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity. . . ” The Constitution also says, in Article I, Section 8, Clause 1, “The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence [sic] and GENERAL WELFARE of the United States.”

    I did some research on what the founders and the courts meant by Welfare. Long story short, welfare is to be considered general, (as in General Welfare) and apply to ALL “people” regardless of class or position. So, welfare doesn’t necessarily mean what we think of today when we use that term. Further, the courts have said that welfare (and even defense) mean what Congress says it means. Well, that sucks.

    Congress can exercise its power under Clause 1 of Section 8, to lay and collect revenue as to pay debts, fund the military, and to pay for SUCH programs that will provide benefits to the general population — education, commerce and trade, labor standards, environmental protection, retirement security, health care for the elderly, and, yes, food programs for the poor. Of course, you can argue that Congress has failed (surprise, surprise) to meet their obligation to pay the debts and provide for defense and general welfare because they did not sufficiently raise “Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises,” thereby creating annual deficits, increasing the national debt, and diminishing general welfare programs (but not defense of course.)

    The founders understood that governments, especially the federal government, should always have a balanced budget. And indeed they held to that principle all the way up through the Great Depression, increasing taxes only temporarily to pay off war debts. Then, beginning with Roosevelt and continuing all the way up to today, the general welfare became the specific welfare, of which the food stamp program is a relatively small part.

    As a result of all of these social welfare programs along with the vast appetite of the military industrial complex , we, meaning the federal government, now have in excess of $125 TRILLION IN UNFUNDED LIABILITIES. (See http://www.usadebtclock.com/)

    As I said elsewhere on this blog, we’ve already fallen off the fiscal cliff. Food stamps should be the least of our worries.

    Herb

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  9. ansonburlingame

     /  September 23, 2013

    Herb,

    Food stamp program costs have doubled in four years, from $40 Billion to an $80 Billion program. I submit such huge growth, unfunded growth, needs attention. Look at ANY doubling of a government program, incremental and uncontrolled doubling, and see what can and should be done to regain control of such growth, again, unfunded growth.

    You see, Herb and others, when programs escalate in cost for whatever reason, by law the funds should just “be there” to keep up with demand. But while such programs increase in cost “automatically” the government does not have a way to incrementally increase revenue, “automatic tax increases” to keep up with demand for government programs.

    Why not?

    Anson

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    • Anson,

      Here’s a really good article from the WSJ last March explaining how the SNAP program got to be the way it is: “Use of Food Stamps Swells Even as Economy Improves” http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323699704578328601204933288.html

      Turns out, the main cause of the increased costs is the lowering the requirements for eligibility by the states. (It’s the states that administer the program with federal dollars.) That is, the states changed the rules to made it easier to receive benefits.

      Of course, the American Taliban wants to blame the victims. And I suppose there is some abuse of the system, but not enough, IMHO, to justify draconian cuts for all recipients. The bottom line is that the 1996 welfare reform bill was fine the way it was. Then the feds and the states started tinkering with it.

      To your final point, increases in the cost of any government program are the result of increases in expenditures approved by legislative bodies at all levels. And for the last 70 years or so, Congress, in the absence of a balanced budget requirement, has managed to uncouple revenues from expenditures and deal with them as independent issues. And we’re seeing the effects of this philosophy of governance — 17 trillion in current debt and 125 trillion in unfunded liabilities.

      So the blame for the food stamp mess (and all the others) can be laid at the feet of the politicians. Again

      Ain’t representative democracy great?

      Herb

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      • Herb – good comment. We do tend to get worked up about details, but forget the simple driver – which you put simply and elegantly:

        “And for the last 70 years or so, Congress . . .has managed to uncouple revenues from expenditures and deal with them as independent issues.”

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  10. ansonburlingame

     /  September 23, 2013

    You, actually we, have it correct. Legislation is passed to fulfill a need perceived. As the need increases, or the definition of need changes, then funding must be adjusted accordingling to keep programs operating within revenues available to fund them.

    We argue like hell over needs and then, sometimes, new programs are launched, democratically. But programs are NOT continued, funding wise, democratically, with votes to increase taxes to continue to fulfill perceived needs or changes in definitions to define who needs what.

    Fundamental flaw in my view.

    THEN we have some occuasions where new programs are launched with NO clear idea how to fund them. We wait until the bill is passed to “find out what is in it” and THEN try to figure out how to fund it. That is the current argument over ACA, in a nutshell.

    Easy solution to me. Now construct a bill, a new TAX BILL, to fund ACA, alone, no add ons, etc. Let both Houses vote, up or down, to now fund ACA. Either house in Congress votes no, then goodby ACA. That way we let people decide, now that we have some much better idea of what is in the ACA bill.

    Remember ACA was passed, in public opinion, because much “good” was promised. Now a price tag in emerging to pay for all that “good”. Let the people again decide, is my call.

    Anson

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  11. Mike Gaden

     /  September 27, 2013

    The people did decide.

    I seem to recall that President Obama was re-elected despite everything the Republican party could do. The ACA was certainly in that mix, and my understanding is that the difference between the ACA and the Massachusetts heath care program is reatively small. Who was it that put together the Massachusetts Program?

    Maybe the American public is smarter than the Republicans think.

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    • Mike,

      The Heritage Foundation, a very right-wing think tank, accepted credit (from Mitt Romney) for Massachusetts’ health reforms. In fact, it was Heritage that came up with the dreaded individual mandate (it was the responsible thing to do, they said). Many of the ideas found in the ACA have been around for twenty years or so and originated with Republicans. Conservatives generally embraced those ideas until, and this is a very big until, until Democrats, particularly one Democrat named Barack Hussein Obama, embraced them.

      Duane

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