November 12 2013
Patrice J. Lee
In the heat of the negotiations over the government shutdown, do you remember the headlines demonizing the Republicans for cutting money to the poor? Perhaps the real Grinch isn’t in the House of Representatives but the White House.
According to a new report, some of the funding for the food stamp program (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP) was diverted to pay for the First Lady’s Let’s Move anti-obesity campaign. Call me insensitive, but, if all good stamp recipients really need this benefit, isn’t it insensitive to cut them to pay for Mrs. Obama to do the Dougie with school kids?
Food stamp benefits were temporarily bumped up during the recession with that increase set to expire on November 1st. House Republicans chose not to maintain food-stamp benefits at the higher level – after all, the economy is in recovery. The press and Democrats jumped on the narrative that Republicans were pulling food out of the mouths of babies and the elderly, but there’s more to this story.
Now, the New York Post reports:
But news has spread among the poor, like leafy green vegetables, that it wasn’t heartless Republicans who triggered the cuts.
Rather, some of the food-stamp cash was snatched to pay for Michelle Obama’s pet project, Let’s Move. What?
It’s come to this. Some 76 million meals a year will vanish from this city — poof! — partly because the president diverted money from SNAP to the first lady’s signature program, part of her Let’s Move anti-obesity initiative — the bean-sprout-heavy, $4.5 billion Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.
The rest of the $5 billion annual food-stamp cuts was taken when 2009 stimulus funds dried up. But with ObamaCare woes stealing the oxygen in Washington, there’s little urgency to replace dandelion greens served on recyclable trays with family-friendly buttered mashed potatoes.
Right now, the country’s poorest families of four are seeing food-stamp allotments cut from $668 a month to $632. It may not sound like much, but understand that $36 is enough to buy a truckload of Kool-Aid and ramen noodles. (Lose the noodles if the Food and Drug Administration succeeds in banning trans fats.)
This is as embarrassing as the laughable vegetable garden in the White House “backyard,” which Mrs. Obama uses to guilt trip ordinary Americans for not eating enough escarole. Don’t let the photos fool you. The plot of land is so tiny it could hardly feed this single woman much more the First Family.
There are two important questions to ask about priorities. First, is it more important that our tax dollars be used to support the First Lady’s food police campaign to drain school lunches of any fat and flavor or should they be used to provide emergency food for the poor? Second, what is the proper scope of government in providing safety net services to the poor?
Families continue to struggle in this economy. There is no doubt that the millions of workers, who remain unemployed or who have dropped out of the labor market because they can’t find work, are suffering. Our nation is blessed to take care of the needs of those who need it through private charity and public emergency benefits and services.
Unfortunately, what was meant as temporary help has become a lifestyle for millions of Americans. Expanding benefits with no end in sight enables, it doesn’t empower.
But maybe the president’s “move” on food stamps is a tacit admission that some recipients don’t actually need the program?