Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Only 9 Senate Democrats Voted Against the SNAP-Cutting Farm Bill

Just now, the Senate voted to pass the Farm Bill 68 to 32, with its $8.7 billion in cuts to SNAP.
About 1.7 million people will receive a $90 cut in SNAP benefits, after having already seen a cut in November.

Here is Clinton USDA official Joel Berg in Salon earlier today on the consequences of the cuts for SNAP beneficiaries:
They’re going to go hungry. And ironically, they may become obese because they can afford less healthy food. You know, in America we’re sort of socialized into thinking there’s going to be some Frank Capra-esque, you know, happy ending — somehow some big donors come through with the money and make it work, and people won’t suffer. That’s not what happens in reality.
And it’s important to note that this cut comes just a few weeks after another massive — even more massive — cut of $11 billion over the next two years, that affects all 48 million recipients of SNAP benefits, that lost about an average of about $38 a month. And so this really is a one-two punch that for some folks is just absolutely devastating. And it’s not like they were living high off the hog to begin with …

A fairly widely quoted study that came out a few weeks ago [found] that emergency room visits for diet-related things like low blood sugar, other things like that, spiked in the last week of a month. And the belief was it was because SNAP benefits had run out for the month.
David Dayen noted earlier today in The New Republic how the bill entrenches corporate welfare:
So the farm bill, far from “reforming” the process of well-heeled agribusinesses living off corporate welfare, actually locks that support in place through misdirection. It’s easier to denounce a farmer getting paid not to plant their field than to decry an overly generous insurance payout. Congress, particularly a Senate that over-represents rural agricultural states, knows well how to hide the ball in this fashion, keeping the focus on undeserving food stamp recipients rather than undeserving agribusinesses.
The Washington Post editorial board called for the President to veto the bill.  The WaPo editorial board wasn't particularly opposed to the SNAP cuts, per se, but followed, "But attached to so much corporate welfare, it’s hard to swallow, especially when that corporate welfare isn’t rigorously means-tested."

Although the majority of the House Democratic caucus (103 vs. 89) just voted against this bill, only 9 members of the Senate Democratic caucus voted against it:

Richard Blumenthal (D-CT)
Cory Booker (D-NJ)
Bob Casey (D-PA)
Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
Ed Markey (D-MA)
Chris Murphy (D-CT)
Jack Reed (D-RI)
Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)

So much for focusing on inequality, or poverty, or even "opportunity"....

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