“Just Picking on the Poor ” — that’s what author and editor-in-chief of Sojourners  magazine Jim Wallis calls yesterday’s House GOP vote to cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly food stamps, by more than $40 billion over the next 10 years.
Wallis adds that the vote is indefensible under any notion of budget cutting and calls those who voted for the cut yet profess a religious bent “moral hypocrites.”
Of particular note: lawmakers portraying food stamp recipients as lazy and otherwise not worthy, while themselves living off government largess:
Tea Party-elected Rep. Stephen Fincher, (R-Tenn.), who likes to bolster his anti-poor rhetoric with misused Bible verses, collected $3.5 million in farm subsidies between 1999 and 2012, according to the New York Times. Fincher is helping to lead the effort to cut food stamps to working families with children by illogically quoting: “The one who is unwilling to work should not eat,” all the while collecting millions of dollars in agricultural subsidies. Congressman Fincher’s position is hypocritical — and it’s this kind of hypocrisy that makes Christians look bad and turns young people away from the church.
You see, for many House conservatives this isn’t really about SNAP, but about their opposition to the idea that as a society we have the responsibility to care for each other, even during the hard times or when resources are few. Conservatives know their ideas for privatizing Social Security or cutting funding to Medicare and Medicaid are politically unpopular, but their ideology of individualism that borders on social Darwinism remains unchanged. SNAP is the perfect target for them. The image of what it does and whom it serves has been widely distorted by the media, while the people who benefit from it have little influence in the halls of Congress and pose little risk to the political careers of Republican members.
They are going after cuts to the poor and hungry people because they think it is politically safe to do so. So let’s call that what it is: moral hypocrisy. Our job, as people of faith, is to protect the poor and to make it politically unsafe for politicians to go after them — to pick on the poor. So we will be watching who votes against feeding the hungry this week and will remember to bring that to public attention when they run for re-election.
We will be doing our own faith count today. Stay tuned for the results.