By Michael Bryan
The Republicans of Arizona's Congressional delegation ganged up with their Tea Party hooligan buddies to kick the poorest and most defenseless among us while we are down last week. The bill slashing SNAP (food stamps) passed on a purely partisan vote, including those of all four of Arizona's Republican Congressional Representatives, cutting $40 billion from the program over the next decade.
Of course, the bill won't become law, but will likely become the basis for compromise" -but still crippling – cuts to the program; that's a policy that most Americans (more than 70%) say is the wrong way to cut government spending. The result will be more poverty and food-insecurity, adding to the staggering 50 million Americans already living on the edge of insolvency, poverty and hunger, and pushing millions of those already hurting deeper into misery.
Here in Arizona, a monthly average of one million Arizonans were assisted by SNAP in 2011. The number qualifying for assistance more than doubled following the 2008 fiscal crisis. These folks are the hard-working poor and their dependent children, and seniors living on insufficient fixed incomes, not "takers" living high on their average of $133 dollars a month in benefits.
SNAP isn't just good for the recipients of aid, it's good for our economy. Each dollar spent on food support generates $1.80 in economic activity. With over $1.5 billion a year in aid in Arizona alone, that translates to an ongoing boost to Arizona's economy of $2.7 billion a year. Apparently, these four congressmen think that feeding the poor and supporting Arizona's economic recovery are a poor use of your tax dollars. Most of you disagree, and should tell them as much.
There are hundreds of thousands of families who will be harmed by these cuts just in the districts of these four pro-hunger Arizona Republicans. Many families will fall into poverty and their children will know hunger because of the heartless, un-Christian, immoral votes of these men. The Congressional GOP has gone insane, leaving even the majority of Republicans (60%) who support assistance to the poor scratching their heads in wonder at the heartlessness and depravity of their elected representatives.
I hope these Representatives will be forced to look those men, women, and children in the eyes back in their districts and explain why, at a time when the Federal deficit has been cut by half since Obama took office, this essential anti-poverty program had to be so drastically restricted.
Shame of each of you, Representatives Gosar, Franks, Salmon and Schweikert. I challenge each of you to answer for your immoral vote to consign millions of our fellow citizens to poverty and hunger.