Friday, July 12, 2013

SNAP Out of It

Yesterday, we looked at what seems to be the start of the gruesome death of comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) legislation in Congress. Even though it's crystal clear that House Republicans are going out of their way to kill reform, they're nonetheless looking for someone else to blame (for their own inaction).

Unfortunately for Congressional Republicans, most Americans are not believing them. According to the latest Quinnipiac national poll, 51% blame Republicans in Congress for obstructing President Obama's agenda while only 35% blame President Obama for not cooperating with Congress. And on top of this, 54% support the kind of CIR that House Republicans are now blocking while only 28% (!!!) support the Mitt Romney/House G-O-TEA extreme deportation agenda.

Even conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks is horrified by this.

It’s beginning to look as though we’re not going to get an immigration reform law this year. House Republicans are moving in a direction that will probably be unacceptable to the Senate majority and the White House. Conservative commentators like my friends Bill Kristol and Rich Lowry are arguing that the status quo is better than the comprehensive approach passed by the Senate. The whole effort is in peril.

This could be a tragedy for the country and political suicide for Republicans, especially because the conservative arguments against the comprehensive approach are not compelling.

After all, the Senate bill fulfills the four biggest conservative objectives. Conservatives say they want economic growth. The Senate immigration bill is the biggest pro-growth item on the agenda today. Based on estimates from the Congressional Budget Office, the Senate bill would increase the gross domestic product by 3.3 percent by 2023 and by 5.4 percent by 2033. A separate study by the American Action Forum found that it would increase per capita income by $1,700 after 10 years.

And speaking of The Times, the editorial board penned a column putting into perspective the House CIR fiasco and the House's passage of an egregious "farm bill" that's all about pampering the super-rich with corporate welfare while soaking the poor

The House will refuse to consider a comprehensive immigration bill that could lead to citizenship for millions of immigrants, Republican leaders said on Wednesday, and will slowly and casually consider a few border-security measures that have no chance of passing on their own.

And, on Thursday, the House passed a farm bill that stripped out the food stamp program, breaking a pact that for decades has protected the nutrition needs of low-income Americans. It was the first time since 1973 that food stamps haven’t been part of a farm bill, and it reflected the contempt of the far right for anyone desperate enough to rely on the government for help to buy groceries.

These actions show how far the House has retreated from the national mainstream into a cave of indifference and ignorance. House members don’t want to know that millions of Americans remain hungry (in an economy held back by their own austerity ideology), and they don’t want to deal with the desperation of immigrant families who want nothing more than a chance to work and feed themselves without fear of deportation.

On both issues, in fact, many House Republicans are proudly asserting that they will stand in the way of any attempts to conduct a conference with the Senate. That might, after all, lead to a compromise.

So House Republicans refuse to even consider CIR, but they're willing to sock it to the working poor? What exactly are their priorities? Fortunately, Desert Beacon is here to point out what they just voted to do.

Representatives Heck (R-NV3) and Amodei (R-NV2) voted in favor of H.R. 2642, the Food Stamp Free Farm Bill, which passed the House on a 216-208 vote on July 11, 2013. Lovely. However, might I be excused for asking about the “Pro-Life” bona fides of the two conservative representatives from the Silver State when it’s laudable to decry a woman’s right to choose the medical procedures necessary to terminate a problematic pregnancy, or even to deplore the use of contraceptives  — BUT once the child is born it is equally laudable to criticize the profligacy of women who have “too many children” and therefore require public assistance to feed them?

That said, two of Nevada’s Congressional representatives have voted to cut food assistance to approximately 156,319 households in this state. [...]

What benefit has been slashed?  The average individual benefit in NV as of 2011 was $124 per month.   Who are the people assisted by this meager benefit?  71% of all SNAP participants are families with children. 26% of all Nevada SNAP participants are families with elderly or disabled individuals. 42% of all Nevada participants are WORKING.

The GOP’s stereotypical imagery of the food stamp recipient as a loafer consuming brew on the porch steps while “hard working” Americans underwrite his existence is just that — an marketable image for ideological consumption, a stereotype suitable for assuaging the I Got Mine You Try To Get Yours Sucker self-serving philosophy of selfishness.

Especially since the start of The Great Recession, many Nevadans of various backgrounds have been struggling to regain their financial footing. Programs like SNAP exist as a safety net to prevent these people from starving to death. And not only that, but SNAP also serves as a critical lifeline for the economy.

So why did Reps. Heck & Amodei vote to make over 150,000 Nevada households suffer? And will they demand that House Republican leaders allow a vote on real immigration reform? Both SNAP & CIR stand to benefit our economy. Is extreme ideological rigidity really more important to them than helping the economy?

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