Just months after passing a $1.2 trillion tax plan, which secured generous breaks for America’s wealthiest individuals and corporations, Congress is now taking swift action to implement harsh austerity measures that would deny basic food access to the nation’s most under-resourced households.
Just months after passing a $1.2 trillion tax plan, which secured generous breaks for America’s wealthiest individuals and corporations, Congress is now taking swift action to implement harsh austerity measures that would deny basic food access to the nation’s most under-resourced households.Proposing a set of radical new restrictions on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), House Republicans have taken direct aim at low income families, communities facing elevated rates of unemployment and individuals impacted by incarceration. This latest assault on low income households is a familiar right-wing maneuver which aims to divert public dollars away from critical human services as a means to finance tax schemes that fund the hyper-rich. It’s time to send a clear message that communities will not stand by as the government proceeds to take food off our tables in order to line the pockets of the rich.
Before adjourning for the summer recess, House Republicans voted unanimously to adopt a series of amendments to the US Farm Bill which would obliterate the nation’s already threadbare food assistance program. The House version of the bill would drastically limit SNAP eligibility for low income families and issue lifetime service bans for a significant number of formerly incarcerated community members, as well as for their families. Despite the overly restrictive work requirements currently imposed on SNAP recipients, the bill also proposes new mandates that would disqualify vulnerable applicants who are unable to work due to disability, lack of affordable childcare or an absence of local job opportunities. As a direct result, an additional two million people facing food scarcity in the U.S would go hungry.
In recent years, conservative interest groups have mounted a measured assault against the nation's low income community service programs.Funded by billionaire power brokers, such lobbying initiatives advocate for disinvestment of programs that benefit communities, while proposing ever deeper cuts to the corporate tax rate. In order to secure public approval for inhumane policies that harm low income families, lawmakers on the right have invoked the longstanding, racially coded myth of the undeserving welfare recipient, who is both criminally oriented and disinclined to work. Such rhetoric lies at the very root of Republicans’ latest attempt to ban formerly incarcerated SNAP recipients and impose overly stringent program work requirements.
Republicans' dog whistling claims that public assistance breeds criminality and unemployment are both dangerous and patently unfounded. Food insecurity represents one of the many challenges individuals face when returning from incarceration and research shows that access to SNAP benefits reduces rates of recidivism. In Illinois, 80% percent of SNAP households with children are headed by a working parent, and studies demonstrate that SNAP services boost employment and earnings rates among recipients. Chronic unemployment experienced by the vast minority of SNAP participants stems from external factors such as disability, disinvestment in area job markets and an absence of affordable childcare. SNAP work requirements would only serve to ensure that the most under resourced applicants go hungry.