Tag Archives: food stamps

Paul Ryan vs. the People

The GOP’s new House speaker says he “trusts the American people,” but his budget takes direct aim at them.

Written by Richard Kirsch. Published by Common Dreams on 10-4-2015.

'The real conflict isn’t Washington vs. the people. It’s the super-rich vs. the rest of us. And Republicans are rallying behind a House speaker who’s built his career representing the rich and powerful.' His name Rep. Paul Ryan. (Image: DonkeyHotey / Flickr)

‘The real conflict isn’t Washington vs. the people. It’s the super-rich vs. the rest of us. And Republicans are rallying behind a House speaker who’s built his career representing the rich and powerful.’ His name Rep. Paul Ryan. (Image: DonkeyHotey / Flickr)

Paul Ryan paints himself as a champion of “the people” over “Washington.”

But the “people” the new House speaker defends are corporations. And the “Washington” he attacks is the one that does deliver for real people.

For the past five years, Ryan has authored the budget passed by the House of Representatives. His imprint is so great that each document is commonly known as the “Ryan budget.”

Every year, those budgets reliably propose sharp cuts to social services alongside steep tax discounts for the rich. His caucus demands these cuts, Ryan claims, because “we trust the American people.” After all, he adds, “Who knows better? The people or Washington?”

But when you look beyond these sound-bite politics at the actual choices Ryan makes in his budget, it’s easy to see whom he really trusts — and whom he really works for.

How, for example, does cutting $89 billion in Pell grants for college — as his budget last year did — put more trust in working families who are struggling to give their children a college education?

Then there’s his $125 billion in proposed cuts to food stamps for the upcoming fiscal year. Isn’t Ryan breaking the trust we have as people — through our government in Washington — with a mother who relies on food assistance to feed her children because her employer pays her a poverty wage?

Ryan pretends that the heroes in his story are “the people,” but his budget takes direct aim at them. And when he makes “Washington” the villain, he’s covering up for the super-rich campaign contributors bankrolling the assault.

Ryan’s latest budget would slash $759 billion from infrastructure, medical research, and virtually every other service and investment ordinary people rely on to help provide security and opportunity. Are there any real people who don’t need good roads, bridges, and health care?

On health care, Ryan’s proposed repeal of the Affordable Care Act would end regulations that stop insurance companies from denying care because of pre-existing conditions. Are “the people” that Ryan puts his trust in health insurance executives?

On taxes, Ryan would eliminate tax credits for 13 million working families, including 25 million children, by an average of $1,073 a year. At the same time, instead of ending tax breaks for corporations that ship profits overseas, he’d make them permanent.

It doesn’t have to be this way. There actually are representatives in Congress who do work for working families, not CEOs. This past May, 96 House lawmakers voted for the People’s Budget — and against Ryan’s proposal.

Developed by the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the People’s Budget invests in infrastructure, renewable energy, and schools to create 8 million jobs in the next three years.

Instead of cutting back on vital services for families, it helps families secure debt-free college, child nutrition, and affordable housing. Instead of more money for Pentagon contractors and less for veterans, it reduces spending for outdated weapons and increases support for vets. It ends tax giveaways for corporations that ship jobs and profits overseas, and it taxes Wall Street speculation.

The People’s Budget also includes a small-donor campaign finance system, so members of Congress could run for office without taking any large contributions from the super-rich or corporations. That might help put real people back in charge of “the people’s house.”

The real conflict isn’t Washington vs. the people. It’s the super-rich vs. the rest of us. And Republicans are rallying behind a House speaker who’s built his career representing the rich and powerful.

Americans need to rally behind a different kind of politician — the folks who will really stand up for people.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

About the Author:richard_kirsch-105x140
Richard Kirsch is a Senior Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute and the author of Fighting for Our Health: The Epic Battle to Make Health Care a Right in the United States, published in February 2012 by the Rockefeller Institute Press. He is also Senior Adviser to USAction and an Institute Fellow at the Rockefeller institute.


Lean, Mean, Hungry Machine

By U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 1st Class Michael W. Pendergrass. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 1st Class Michael W. Pendergrass. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Being a lean, mean, fighting machine takes fuel – lots of it. Well-balanced, nutritional and wholesome foods are the order of the day for most troops as they move through basic training and become active in their military roles.

In 2013, commissaries across America saw over $104 million dollars in food stamp purchases by the enlisted personnel using the commissary’s already discounted prices for basic food supplies. This is almost double over the amount spent in food stamps by military members in 2012.

While it is concerning that our troops are not paid well enough that they qualify for food stamps to begin with, it becomes even more alarming when considering the recent actions by Congress that will directly affect these enlisted men and women as well as their families.

The recent budget passed in Washington limits pay increases in the military to 1%, while current inflation trends are at 1.5% and rising.

President Obama has signed the new Farm Bill into law, which eliminates over $4 million in food stamps, to be taken from recipients in 14 states, with 40% of those people being military families. This is in addition to the cuts to the SNAP program that were taken as part of the not-to-be-realized-but was sequester following the debt ceiling debacle last year.

Because the military requires enlisted personnel to transfer to various service locations, the unemployment rate of military spouses is currently at a staggering 30%, making supplemental income to the military paycheck all but impossible for most struggling military families. For those spouses who qualify for unemployment benefits, the payments cease when the enlisted person is transferred, as the unemployment benefits are administered through a state payment system, not on a federal level.

Have you ever dined on the luxurious quality of an MRE?


Liars, Damn Liars, and Statistics

Photo by Ryan Thompson/U.S. Department of Agriculture [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Ryan Thompson/U.S. Department of Agriculture CC-BY-2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The US House passed the 2014 Farm Bill, proclaiming their pride of a “bipartiisan” piece of legislation that now moves to the Senate. At the core of the bad policies included with some good ones in the Bill are the cuts to the food stamp program known as SNAP. “This is legislation we can all be proud of because it fulfills the expectations the American people have of us,” said Representative Frank D. Lucas, (R-OK), who led House efforts to pass the farm bill, according to a report in The New York Times.

The Bill will cut $8 billion from SNAP over the next 10 years. To soften the blow, the draconian measure was wrapped in the language of “only a 1% cut” when revealed to the public. That doesn’t sound like a big deal, right?

The 1% cut will be taken from 850,000 households across 14 states, with as much as a 50% cut to those household’s monthly benefit. Hardest hit of the cities will be New York City itself, where 40% of food stamp recipients are military veterans. The statistic of 1% was derived by using the national number of recipients to average the effect of the 850,000 households losing 50% of the benefit. Otherwise, we would be shocked, outraged and demand the Senate not pass the bill.

I don’t know about you, but I am shocked and outraged. To take food from the most vulnerable people and average it over the nation’s total program recipients for politics-before-people purposes is nothing less than lying to the public about the effects of legislation. They think the public can’t figure basic math and will applaud their efforts without examining the real facts.

Since when has not feeding a veteran’s family in New York City been beneficial for a farmer in Iowa? How is a “Farm Bill” related to feeding FEWER people? Attaching the SNAP cuts to the Farm Bill is purely political, and comes after other cuts to the program have already been passed. After growing up on a farm, I can say this smells very much like organic fertilizer of the male bovine kind…

After all, throwing a veteran’s family under the manure spreader is easier for Washington than throwing corporate tax breaks under the plow. They are learning to compromise…