This is what the ultraconservative wing of the Republican Party demands in exchange for letting government function.
The House GOP recently voted to slash $40 billion from the food stamp program. In an additional “eff you” to the nation’s poor, the House GOP also insisted that food stamp applicants take drug tests.
The House GOP also intends to carry on its quixotic quest to gut the new health care law, using the threat of a government shutdown to force the president to destroy his signature legislative accomplishment.
Of course, none of this stuff has a snowball’s chance of happening.
President Obama will veto all of it, but that’s hardly the point.
Republicans are trying to mollify their most conservative supporters, people who are enamored with the idea that social programs are basically a giveaway to moochers.
Let’s set some parameters before I continue. I consider myself an independent and I’m not naive. There will always be someone out there who tries to abuse social programs intended to help the less fortunate. Exhibit A: This tool.
Yes, if there’s one steadfast axiom about conservative media, it’s their willingness to find an anomaly and make it the spokesman of any social program. They’ll comb through the multitudes of legitimate program recipients to find the world’s biggest loser.
Of course, most food stamp recipients aren’t like this. Many people are ashamed of using food stamps.
And we wouldn’t want to think about the broader social implications of cutting these programs …
Food stamps are a complicated issue. So is healthcare.
Georgia Republican campaign staffer Clint Murphy recently did the unthinkable by telling fellow Republicans that he supports the new healthcare law, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Murphy got his wake-up call when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer.
“When you say you’re against it, you’re saying that you don’t want people like me to have health insurance,” he said on his Facebook page.
So we aren’t talking about dollars and numbers here, guys. We’re talking about people like us who wouldn’t even be able to get health care coverage were it not for this new law. It’s not a perfect law. It’s debatable whether it’s even a good law. But it’s a start.
The House GOP isn’t getting a lot of support from its own supporters on this so-called plan. Even Karl Rove, of all people, thinks it’s a losing strategy.
I don’t care for the man’s social politics, but he did keep the GOP viable at the national level. Remember that whole compassionate conservative thing? George W. Bush was supposed to be this affable guy who wouldn’t try to score brownie points by kicking the downtrodden.
At this point, kicking the downtrodden is a sport among the hard-heart wing of the Republican Party.
Let’s break this down a bit further.
Does anyone honestly care if people in this country get three square meals a day for free? I mean any person, rich, poor, middle class, able-bodied or disabled. If we have the means to produce cheap, nutritious food and provide convenient access to it, is that really such a bad thing?
Even the people who depend on this government assistance still use other services like food banks. What possible harm could result in having a guarantee of a well-fed work force?
The shame is all tied into this idea that the main motivation for work is eating, but this isn’t the Paleolithic area. We’re not swarming large animals and living until the ripe old age of 30. As a society, we’ve moved more into the mindset that a day’s work is its own reward and that our occupations are intrinsically a part of our own sense of self-worth.
If it were all about eating, and eating well, no one would ever become a teacher, police officer or fireman. Everyone would become a doctor, or a lawyer, and the market for these professions would become over-saturated and the incomes would plummet. When you were in school, did anyone ask you what kind of steak you wanted to eat when you grew up? No. They asked you what you wanted to be.
Sometimes the pursuit of that dream job means forgoing things like being rich. That works fine in a normal economy. But as you probably have noticed by now, we’re in the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes. The dollars just don’t go as far as they used to. The rise in food stamps isn’t ideal, but it shouldn’t be totally unexpected either.
House GOP policy suggestions at times sound more appropriate for the plot of the next “Hunger Games” movie than America.
At the core of all of this cutting and drug-testing and eff-you’ing is the cynical sentiment that people who depend on social services do so because they are unwilling to work.
This might be total heresy, but there are in fact situations where you can do everything right, work your ass off and still be unable to live independently. This New York Times article illustrates the point perfectly. Women in New York working two or three jobs must depend on the kindness of homeless shelters because they can’t actually afford to live in New York.
These people aren’t lazy, obviously. They do need help. I’m well aware of how the House GOP feels about food stamp surfer. As a voter, I’d like to hear more about how the House GOP intends to help people who follow all the rules and can’t quite make it. They’re the ones who will be the most affected by cuts to the food stamp program and lack of access to healthcare.