Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A Vote to Cut SNAP

At the end of last week, a huge uproar occurred on the left hand side of the political/ideological spectrum when the House of Representatives, along party lines, voted to cut the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) by $40 billion over 10 years.

More than a few of my more liberally associated colleagues on Facebook erupted in moral outrage demeaning the Republicans' hard-heartedness, callous, and un-Christian attitudes and behaviors in their votes for this measure.  Their righteous indignation can perhaps be captured in the following article from Sojourner's 

Your Christian Hypocrisy Is Showing: On Pope Francis and the U.S. Congress

A relevant quote:

In July 2013, when lawmakers first passed a Farm Bill without funding for food stamps (officially called the “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program,” or “SNAP”), one Republican lawmaker (Stephen Fincher, R-Tenn.) quoted 2 Thessalonians 3:10, “the one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.” In yesterday’s debate, Rep. Steve Southerland (R-Fla.) invoked Genesis —“God created Adam, placed him in the Garden to work it.”

Exegesis aside, what both of these quotes ignore is that most of those on food stamps are working. They might be working part-time, or for minimum wage, or both, but they are working. What they also ignore is that those who would be most severely impacted by such drastic cuts in food stamp funding — children — cannot work for their food. They can instead only wake in the morning and hope they are fed.

My curiosity, of course was peaked when I started seeing all of the blog postings and indignation on behalf of those who would be affected by this particular bill if it had a snowball's chance of passing the Senate.  Therefore, I started doing a bit of research to see just what the bill included.

The Executive Summary was helpful since it takes a masters in law in order to decipher the wording of the bill itself.

And then it was on to reading some news articles instead of blog postings and Facebook rants:

House approves bill with deep food stamp spending cuts
A very, very relevant quote or two:

The Cantor-backed package would limit able-bodied adults without dependents to three months of food stamps in a three-year period unless they worked part-time or were in a workfare or job-training program. It would end a provision, created by the 1996 welfare reform law, that allows states to give food stamps to people whose assets are larger than usually allowed.

Those two steps would save $39 billion over 10 years and reduce enrollment by almost 4 million people in 2014, said the Congressional Budget Office. Another reform would reduce benefits by $90 a month for 850,000 households.

Marcia Fudge, Democrat of Ohio, and other Democrats said there were not enough jobs, workfare assignments or job-training programs to match the number of people who could lose food stamps after three months.

So, let's put the actual facts on the table.  The bill actually passed by the House of Representatives does not affect those people who actually work--per the Sojourner's article unless the folks are already making more than usually allotted.  Same goes for those who have dependents--as per the Sojourner's article.  And, the bill does not target at any women or children--as per the Sojourner's article, unless, again, these folks are already making more than is usually allowed.

The only argument that can be made against it is that of Fudge who said there aren't enough jobs or training programs out there for able bodied individuals to participate in.  That may or may not be true depending upon the situation in which one finds oneself.

However, yours truly has heard more than his fair share of stories about people living in the Great Depression who moved several states away from their families and friends to find work until jobs became more available.  What is preventing such things from happening today?  Why do we feel like people are anchored to a particular place or area and are unable to seek out other opportunities where there are jobs and training programs?  That is a relevant question to respond to Mrs. Fudge with.

But all of this is quite beside the point.  The point, at least from my perspective, is that I believe that in the Church, we are responsible for being speakers of truth.  We are responsible for relaying the facts of a particular matter and speaking to it truthfully.  I do not believe some within the Church have fulfilled their responsibility adequately in this particular matter.

It is not the first time.

It probably won't be the last.

This particular misstep comes from the left side of the aisle.

There are numerous from the right side as well.

A damnable question arises from the willingness to see what we want to see instead of putting the facts on the table and then working from those:

Why would anyone trust the Church if we do not speak the full truth?

No comments: