House Votes to Cut Food Stamps, Dodges Real Problem

The House, in a mostly partisan vote, approved a bill Thursday to cut $4 billion per year from the food stamp program.

The 217-210 vote was opposed by Democrats and a few Republicans.

The bill aims to save the money, which amounts to about a 5 percent reduction in funding, by including new work requirements, putting limits on how long single people without children can receive food stamps, and implementing drug testing of program participants.

Majority leader Eric Cantor said that the program, which serves 47 million people and costs $80 billion a year, has become bloated.

That works out to about $1,700 per year for each participant, on average, or $142 per month. For a family of three, that’s $425 per month.

Those figures make no effort to account for program costs, such as worker salaries.

I tend not to have a lot of sympathy for people who complain about the food stamp program.

While I’m certain there is fraud, there are also a lot of people who genuinely need the help just to survive. With food prices today, the amount the government gives out is not a lot of money for a struggling family to survive on.

And in exchange for that bit of assistance, participants face considerable and repetitive paperwork and bureaucratic hassles. In many states, they also already face requirements to attend school, spend a certain number of hours working or looking for work, or volunteer for community programs.

Most of the participants in the program are children, whose parents have to meet program requirements in addition to whatever else they’ve got going on in their lives, such as a part-time job or schooling.

Much of the resentment of the program seems to come from penny pinchers who get bent out of shape when they see someone use an EBT card to buy a steak instead of a pork chop or jar of peanut butter.

Maybe I’ll be accused of being some sort of liberal for saying this, but if that’s you standing in line grinding your teeth at the food stamp family, get a grip.

Consider that you don’t know the family’s circumstances. You don’t know if the parents are working their butts off in low-paying jobs because that’s the only work available. You don’t know if they’ve saved some nickels or cut back on other items to afford to feed the kids a decent cut of meat once in a while instead of cheap hot dogs. You don’t know how many years a parent may have worked and paid into the system only to be rewarded with a layoff notice. You don’t know how much a family may be getting monthly from food stamps, if it’s $10 or $600.

The House vote on Thursday not only plays into stereotypes about cold-hearted Republicans, it’s also wildly misdirected.

If a patient is sick, do you treat a symptom or try to cure the disease?

The tremendous surge in food stamp use in this country is only a symptom. Instead of worrying about people getting a few extra dollars every month, Congress should be getting off its butt and doing something about fixing the economy.

For starters, it could take back the power to make monetary policy from the Fed, which is a private entity that manipulates the economy according to the whims of whatever economic theorist the president hired.

This puts our entire economy in the hands of people who have no accountability.

Further, the Congress should be cutting all taxes and eliminating red tape to create a favorable environment for business.

Those “evil” businesses that Democrats revile so are the creators of jobs, contrary to the opinions of Nancy Pelosi, who famously said that unemployment checks are economic stimulus.

Which brings up another point. Change the banking laws so that banks cannot create dollars out of thin air. If you’ve never heard of the practice, it’s called fractional lending, and it allows banks to legally lend almost double the amount of money they physically have in their possession.

The net result is the electronic creation of “dollars” that then devalue real currency, driving up prices on everything.

Conservatives owe it to our country to learn about the real causes of our economic disaster. We need to stop looking for the easy fixes and go after the heart of the problem.