Tag Archives: SNAP

Street Heat: Progressives Protest Against Food Stamp Cuts Nationwide

SNAP-Waxmanby Pamela Powers Hannley

For weeks, Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) has been turning up the heat on Congressional Democrats in an effort to stop the proposed $20 billion in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, AKA food stamps).

On Monday, June 17, PDA members nationwide protested athigh-profile Congressional officesfrom California to Florida to Illinois to Massachusetts.  (At right is the PDA protest outside of Congressman Henry Waxman's office. PDA Advisory Board Chair Mimi Kennedy is in the middle Other photos here.) PDA activists demonstrated at the offices of influential members of Congress, like Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz. Here is the list:

  • Rep Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader, CA-12: (415) 556-4862
  • Rep Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, DNC Chair, FL-23 954-437-3936
  • Rep Steny Hoyer, House Minority Whip, MD-05 (301) 474-0119
  • Rep Henry Waxman CA-33 310-652-3095
  • Rep Richard Neal, MA-05 (413) 785-0325

On Wednesday, June 19, PDA members visited the offices of more than 200 members of Congress and urged them to vote against the food stamp cuts. In Arizona,PDA activists delivered letters to the offices of Ron Barber, Ann Kirkpatrick, and Kyrsten Sinema.

Read the letter delivered to Congressional offices after the jump.

Here is the text of PDA’s letter to Congress about the proposed food stamp cuts:

Re: Public Policy Should Eliminate Hunger, Not Increase It
June 19, 2013

Dear Congressman Barber,

We are voters in your Congressional District writing to urge you to oppose cuts to Food Stamps—also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Program (SNAP). The House Farm Bill would cut $20.5 billion from SNAP, and any cuts to would increase hunger for millions of vulnerable Americans. We strongly urge you to Oppose any Farm Bill that contains cuts to Food Stamps / SNAP.

Average benefits provided under SNAP are only $133.41 per person per month. Not even $1.50 per meal. After the amendment Rep. Jim McGovern (MA) offered to prevent the cuts failed on a party-line vote, the House Agriculture Committee passed the Farm Bill. We strongly oppose the $20.5 billion cuts that would devastate millions of Americans and inflict costs upon taxpayers far in excess of any supposed “savings.”

Spending for nutrition delivers a huge return on investment. SNAP spending is among the most powerful economic stimuli, with benefits that flow directly and immediately into the economy, enriching domestic farmers and retailers, and creating jobs. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack confirmed, “Every dollar of SNAP benefits generates $1.84 in the economy.” Conversely, decreasing SNAP would cause increased health care costs and incite crime, diminish productivity, stunt childhood development, and impose other collateral damage on innocent American families.

Please oppose any Farm Bill that contains cuts to Food Stamps / SNAP.

We invite continued engagement with you. Please provide us with the name and contact information for your staffer(s) responsible for this issue.

Thank you for your time and attention,

PDA Tucson Steering Comittee

Related articles:

House debates $20.5 billion cuts to food stamps

Activists protest possible cuts to food stamps

Organizations in LA protest possible food stamp cuts

Mayor Bloomberg outlines importance of maintaining funding for SNAP program

Obama opposes food stamp cuts, threatens veto of farm bill

Obama Opposes Food Stamp Cuts, Threatens Veto of Farm Bill

by Pamela Powers Hannley

President Barack Obama has issued an official statement saying that he opposes the current form of HR1947, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013 (AKA the Farm Bill).

Specifically, he opposes the deep cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program(SNAP– food stamps) and the spending increases in the form of subsidies. Cutting food subsidies (in the form of food stamps) to the poor while increasing subsidies to agribusiness is immoral. (You’ll remember that, in public, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives is all “we gotta tighten out belts and reduce spending”, but in reality, they love spending money on pet projects– like war and corporate welfare. They passed the $640 Billion Pentagon Pork Bill last week. )

Will Obama’s statement and threatened veto give weak-kneed Blue Dog Democratsthe back-up to stand up for what’s right? I hope so. (The House of Representatives is still working on this bill; there is still time to call your representative and urge him/her topreserve funding for food stamps.) Read the President's full statement after the jump.

Here is the President’s statement

STATEMENT OF ADMINISTRATION POLICY
H.R. 1947 – Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013
(Rep. Lucas, R-OK, and Rep. Peterson, D-MN)

The Administration strongly opposes H.R. 1947, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013. The bill would reduce access to food assistance for struggling families and their children, does not contain sufficient commodity and crop insurance reforms, and does not provide funding for renewable energy, which is an important source of jobs and economic growth in rural communities across the country.

The Administration strongly opposes the harmful cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), a cornerstone of our Nation’s food assistance safety net. The bill makes unacceptable deep cuts in SNAP, which could increase hunger among millions of Americans who are struggling to make ends meet, including families with children and senior citizens. The Administration believes that Congress should achieve significant budgetary savings to help reduce the deficit without creating hardship for vulnerable families – for example, by reducing crop insurance subsidies. Rather than reducing crop insurance subsidies by $11.7 billion over 10 years, as proposed in the President’s Budget, H.R. 1947 would increase reference prices for farmers by roughly 45 percent and increase already generous crop insurance subsidies at a cost of nearly $9 billion over 10 years to the Nation’s taxpayers.

The Administration supports enactment of a multi-year Farm Bill that includes a long-term extension of disaster programs and promotes rural development, preserves a farm safety net, maintains strong nutrition programs, encourages the development of local and regional markets, enhances conservation, supports environmental stewardship, complies with our World Trade Organization commitments, advances agricultural research, and provides funding for renewable energy. In addition, the Administration believes that crop insurance payments should be tied to the Nation’s soil conservation and wetland protection goals. The legislation should also contribute significantly to deficit reduction, with savings from reforms proposed in the President’s Budget.

Consistent with the President’s Budget, the Administration looks forward to working with the Congress to achieve crop insurance and commodity program savings not contained in H.R. 1947, while at the same time strengthening the farm safety net in times of need and supporting the next generation of farmers. The Administration also looks forward to working with the Congress to structure reporting requirements to maximize and facilitate agricultural research without creating undue burdens. The Administration believes that provisions that would create unneeded barriers for agencies with regulatory responsibilities in executing their missions should not be included in a final bill.

Finally, the Administration looks forward to working with the Congress to reform the P.L. 480 Title II food aid program in order to provide food aid to starving people faster and feed millions of additional people per year at current funding levels.

If the President were presented with H.R. 1947, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill. [Emphasis added.]

Can You Live on $4.50/day? 20 Congressional Leaders, Staff Join Food Stamp Challenge

Money02-adj-sm72by Pamela Powers Hannley

Could you live on a $4.50/day food stamp allotment?

Rep. Jim McGovern, who has been leading the charge to stop billions of dollars of cuts to the food stamp program (SNAP), will begin a food stamp challenge tomorrow, June 13, to draw attention to the plight of the poor and hungry in America. Twenty Congressional leaders, staffers, and supporters have joined the challenge to live on $4.50/day for  one week.  Here is information from McGovern's website.

Starting on June 13th, 2013, I will be joining over 20 of my Congressional colleagues, staffers and Massachusetts Secretary of Health and Human Services John Polanowicz for the 2013 National Food Stamp Challenge.

I will live on $4.50 a day for food for a week to bring attention to hunger and the $20 billion in cuts SNAP millions of Americans are facing. This is a conversation we need to have, and I hope this Challenge will help us continue the dialogue. Stay tuned to this page for updates from many of the participants!

And for more on my ongoing efforts to bring attention to hunger on the House floor, visit my #EndHungerNow page.

McGovern has given a series of speeches on ending hunger in America. Watch them here. Fifty million Americans are living with food insecurity. Now is not the time to cut billions from food stamps– while adding billions to the Pentagon budget.

A list of Congressional Representatives taking the National Food Stamp Challenage is after the jump.

McGovern's challenge follows Newark Mayor (and now US Senate candidate) Cory Booker's food stamp challenge from last winter. Booker used video and social media to publicize what he bought and how difficult it is to live on $30/week. 

According to the Food Research Action Center, as of last Friday, the following House Members have committed to taking the SNAP Challenge: Lee (CA), Matsui (CA), Holmes-Norton (DC), Carney (DE), Schakowsky (IL), Duckworth (IL), McGovern (MA), Conyers (MI), Kildee (MI), Levin (MI), Ellison (MN), McCollum (MN), Nolan (MN), Watt (NC), Kuster (NH), Lujan-Grisham (NM), Crowley (NY), Rangel (NY), Fudge (OH), DeFazio (OR), Cartwright (PA), Langevin (RI), ORourke (TX), Veasey (TX), DelBene (WA), Pocan (WI). (Hmmm… no one from Arizona on the list, of course.)

Misplaced Congressional Priorities: Pork for the Pentagon but Not for Children

Pentagon-moneyby Pamela Powers Hannley

During the Bush II Era, excessive deficit spending was no big deal for Republicans. Congressional Republicans like Mitch McConnell, Jon Kyl, John McCain, Jeff Flake, Lindsay Graham, and even current “budget hawk” Paul Ryan “spent money like drunken sailors”– particularly when the spending benefited the 1% (remember the tax cuts we couldn’t afford?) or corporations (two wars, Medicare Advantage, off-shoring jobs, more tax cuts, privatization, etc.)

But as soon as a Democratic President occupied the White House, the siren song became: We must tighten our belts and live within our means! Cut government jobs…er… spending! Cut Social Security… er… “entitlements”! 

This austerity screed intensified after the Democratic “shellacking” in 2010 when Teapublicans took control of the House of Representatives and the budget, and Senate Teapublicans began playing games with people’s lives by filibustering everything. (No wonder Congress has a 16% approval rating.)

For the past few months, Congress has been weighing the pros and cons of budget cuts and pork barrel projects. Food stamps and schools lunches are on the chopping block, while the Congress considers passing the National Defense Authorization Act of 2014, which authorizes $640 billion more in defense spending than the Pentagon asked for. (This action was passed by the House Armed Services committee last week; the full vote in the House of Representatives is scheduled for today– Wednesday, June 12.) More details about Pentegon pork after the jump.

Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) is calling on Americans nationwide to call their representatives and ask them to support amendments to audit and tighten the Pentagon budget (while protecting healthcare and other programs for troops and veterans), rein in the lethal drone program, and end the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) that gave a green light to the past decade of endless warfare.

Even some conservatives believe that the Pentagon budget could be cut– safely. Defending America, Defending Taxpayers recently released a report detailing 100 specific recommendations for cuts to the Department of Defense (DoD) budget—the nation’s largest agency. The cuts total more than $1.8 trillion. So, why do Republican “budget hawks” want to give the Pentagon billions more than they asked for?

Increases in defense spending are particularly heinous when Congress is poised toinflict more economic pain on American citizens with cuts to education and social safety net programs. The most recent target for budget cuts are the food stamp program and school lunches– poverty-related programs included in the Farm Bill. Progressives are asking: Why not end hunger, rather than force it on more poor children? The House version of the Farm Bill cuts $20 billion from food stamps, while the Senate version cuts $4 billion.

Due to the Great Recession and the proliferation of low-wage jobs available during the “recovery”, the number of Americans using food stamps has increased 70%. More Americans than ever need the food stamp program, according to an article in In These Times.

More from In These Times

At this stage, it will likely be difficult to prevent any cuts from taking place. Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), who has emerged as one of the most vocal opponents of the cuts in Congress, conceded that “the odds are against us.” McGovern has co-authored an amendment to restore funding to SNAP, which has garnered the support of over 130 Democrats in the House so far.

In an interview with In These Times, McGovern blamed the Republican Party’s hostility toward social spending and general ignorance of the issues facing low-income people for the severity of the cuts. But he also expressed frustration with members of his own party for failing to speak out on the issue. “If the Democratic Party doesn’t stand with the poor and the vulnerable then I don’t know what the hell we stand for,” McGovern said.

Neither House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) nor House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) have signed on to the amendment calling to restore SNAP funding.

“There’s this view that there’s no political consequence, if you cut programs to hurt poor people, then you won’t lose an election,” McGovern said. “Whereas if you overturn a tax cut or if you vote against a trade agreement or vote against the gun lobby, there’s a political consequence. I think many of my colleagues are gambling that if they vote to chip away at the safety net in this country, then nobody will notice, nobody will care, [and] that they won’t lose their election.”

While the response to SNAP cuts in Washington has so far been limited, opponents of the cuts are planning on ramping up their pressure on Congress in the coming weeks.

Twenty-six members of Congress, including McGovern, have pledged to live on a SNAP budget between June 13 and 19. They will be joined by representatives from an array of anti-poverty organizations, like the Food Research and Action Center, NeighborWorks America, the American Association of Retired Persons and religious groups.  Meanwhile, on June 17, the earliest date that the House could take up the farm bill, Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) will hold a series of demonstrations across the country calling on influential Democratic members of Congress to prevent the cuts from taking place. PDA is holding actions at the district offices of Pelosi, Hoyer, Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-Fla.), Assistant Senate Majority Leader Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Henry Waxman (D-Calif.). [Emphasis added.]

Call your Congressional representative today and urge them to vote with the people and not the military industrial complex. Cut the Pentagon budget– don’t increase it by billions.

Stay tuned for information on how you can become more involved in PDA’s street heat campaign, mentioned above. There will be letter drops at Congressional officesin Arizona next week.

PDA Calls on Members to Fight Against Food Stamp Cuts

2013-02-24 16.52.57by Pamela Powers Hannley

Earlier today, I posted a story about Republicans’ draconian and racist amendment to the Farm Bill that would deny food stamp benefits for ex-convicts– for the rest of their lives. (Obviously, a great way to pump up recidivism.)

But ex-cons are not the only people that Republicans want to starve. Overall, they want to cut billions from the food stamp program (while working behind the scenes to lessen the burned of regulation on the banksters. Who elected them? I thought it was real people– not corporate persons– who elected them.)

Below is an action alert from the Progressive Democrats of America (PDA). It’s time to call your elected Congressional representatives and tell them thatAusterity is Not an Option! Starving people, taking their jobs, taking their houses, reducing benefits… these austerity measures haven't worked in Europe. They won’t work here.

From PDA…

Extremists in Congress want to slash funding for Food Stamps (aka SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). We must stand up against this heartless effort. Call and write your Senators and Representative, and tell them to oppose the Farm Bill unless full funding for food stamps is restored. We must do more to end hunger, not less.

Please watch this video in which I interviewed PDA Advisory Board member, Rep. Jim McGovern of Massachusetts about the upcoming Farm Bill–and the despicable plan to cut food stamps in a time of great hunger. Call and write your Senators and Representative, and tell them to reject the Farm Bill if it contains these hunger-causing cuts.

In the video, Rep. McGovern describes what he calls “a defining moment.” More details about food stamp cuts after the jump.

Please join with him as he leads the effort to restore $20.5 billion in cuts to the food stamp program passed by the House Agriculture Committee. These $20.5 billion in cuts in a nation with 50 million hungry people–17 million of them kids–will increase hunger in America. 

This is not acceptable to us as progressives. Increasing hunger is wrong. Punishing those who have suffered most from the recession is wrong. Taking food stamps away from millions of hungry children, veterans, disabled and other Americans is wrong. Congress must reverse the cuts and restore those funds. Together, we can help!

Support Rep. McGovern’s amendment to protect kids from hungerThey don’t have powerful lobbyists or wealthy SuperPACs. But they do have leaders of conscience like Rep. McGovern, and activists like us. Let’s stand up together against hunger!

Call and write your Senators and Representative, and tell them to oppose the Farm Bill unless food stamp funds are restored.

If you want to help PDA fight against food stamp cuts, please click here to donate online or find out how to send a check to support our efforts.

No Farm Bill should make hunger worse!

It’s fights like this that make me glad I stand with you in PDA.

Peace,

Tim Carpenter
PDA National Director

P.S.–The vote on food stamp cuts will happen quickly, so please call and email ASAP to support Rep. McGovern’s fight to restore the funds for food stamps in the Farm Bill. Also, join us for our June Educate Congress letter drops.

Louisiana Senator Proposes Openly Racist Amendment Kicking Ex-Cons Off Food Stamps

2013-02-24 16.52.23by Pamela Powers Hannley

Many of us are wise to the racist private prison pipeline for people of color in the US. Black men have been incarcerated at higher rates than white men for decades. Thanks harsh immigration laws, brown men and women now make up the highest proportion of our federal prison system.

To add insult to injury, Senator Vitter has proposed an amendment to the farm bill which would prohibit anyone convicted of a crime from ever receiving food stamps during their lifetimes.

So, a 19-year-old man who serves prison time and returns to society rehabilitated would never be allowed to get subsidized food while he is trying to rebuild his life. What is his likely course of action? More crime? It could happen.

This amendment is openly racist. The only benefit would be to the private prison industry.

Read more about this in this story from Colorlines. Then call Senators Flake and McCain.