“I Can Hold the Hunger”

I wrote a piece for the Plum Line the other day lambasting Republicans for their vicious anti-poor agenda, but as many have since pointed out this is a bipartisan failure. It’s true, Republicans want to cut food stamps much more than Democrats do right now. But as David Dayen points out, the current cuts are a result of Democrats raiding the Recovery Act’s extra food stamp money to pay for other priorities back in 2010 (itself a result of pointless, self-imposed PAYGO budget rules).

Back then, Democrats swore up and down they’d figure out a way to restore the money if it were still needed in the future. Needless to say, they’ve failed. Here’s the result:

The reduction in benefits has affected more than 47 million people…It is the largest wholesale cut in the program since Congress passed the first Food Stamps Act in 1964 and touches about one in every seven Americans.

Ingrid Mock, 46, a former supermarket cashier who is disabled, was at the Bronx food pantry on Monday stocking up on canned green beans, pasta, ground beef and apples…Ms. Mock, who has received food benefits for a decade and uses them to help feed her 12-year-old daughter, said her allotment had steadily decreased from as much as $309 about six years ago to a low of $250 this month, which reflected a new cut of $25…

“I try to get most of the things my daughter eats because I can hold the hunger — I’m an adult — but she cannot,” she said. “They don’t understand when there’s no food in the fridge.”

When pressed, Democrats at least seem ashamed of their wretched behavior, but Republicans usually splutter about how this is supposed to be done by private charities and churches. Be that as it may, if one cuts out the legs of the existing system without first making sure the replacement is ready, one is being, quite simply, cruel.

One would think ostensible Christians would tread a bit more carefully before snatching bread from the mouths of the hungry. For it is written: “Whoever gives to the poor will not want, but he who hides his eyes will get many a curse.”

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Ryan Cooper

Ryan Cooper is a national correspondent at the Week. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, the New Republic, and the Nation. He was an editor at the Washington Monthly from 2012 to 2014.