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As we warned earlier today, the U.S. House of Representatives has been considering significant and draconian changes to the nation’s leading anti-hunger program–effectively wiping out critical food assistance for our state’s seniors, veterans and even children—comes just as new poverty data shows even more North Carolinians are struggling.

In a slim 217 to 210 vote, a bitterly divided House voted in favor of a controversial, extreme and stunningly harsh measure that cuts a staggering $40 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program—formerly known as food stamps.  The cuts are twice the amount originally proposed by the House earlier this year and ten times more than those adopted by a strong bipartisan majority in the U.S. Senate. If the legislation becomes law, it will take away food assistance for as many as four million poor Americans.  Independent budget analysts have confirmed the proposal is so extreme it would take away food assistance for children, seniors and veterans.

In North Carolina, 1.7 million families rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to put food on their tables.  At a cost of only $1.35 per meal in North Carolina, it is also one of the nation’s most efficient and effective services for the poor. New data by the non-partisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities show the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program lifted a record four million Americans out of poverty in 2012, and it reduced hardship for millions more.

At a time when special tax loopholes allow corporations and the wealthiest Americans to avoid paying upwards of $1 trillion in taxes every year, Congress shouldn’t be turning to North Carolina’s poorest people to find savings—especially children and others who are unable to work for their own food. This proposal is blatantly immoral, and must be stopped by the Senate. No one should be in the business of causing hunger, yet that’s the choice the House just made with this vote.

 

In a case of spectacularly bad timing, the U.S. House of Representatives is poised to increase hunger among our state’s most vulnerable residents on the very same day that new reports from the Census Bureau revealed that poverty is on the rise in North Carolina. Despite the fact that one-in-five North Carolinians live in poverty, the House is taking up a hugely controversial package that wipes out critical food assistance for more than a million North Carolina families.

This extreme and harsh measure cuts a staggering $40 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program—formerly known as food stamps, a program which has lifted 4 million out of poverty last year alone and is considered one of the nation’s most effective anti-poverty tools.  The cuts are twice the amount originally proposed by the House earlier this year and ten times more than those adopted by a strong bipartisan majority in the U.S. Senate.

If the legislation becomes law, it will take away food assistance for as many as four million poor Americans, including 1.7 million North Carolinians.  Independent budget analysts have confirmed the proposal is so extreme it would take away food assistance for children, seniors and veterans.

But there’s still time for the House to change course, reject this punitive measure, and ensure that 4 million people won’t go hungry. Visit this link if you want to to urge your Congressional representatives to vote against this immoral proposal.

As reported here and elsewhere, conservatives in the U.S. Congress have been pushing the illusory medicine of austerity a lot in recent weeks. A draconian proposal to slash the federal SNAP program (i.e. food stamps) is just one example of this shortsighted approach in action.

The latest conservative proposals are, of course, predicated on the concept the “we just can’t afford” such programs. As retired Wake Forest economics professor Don Frey argued presusuaively in the following recent takedown of the Paul Ryan budet, however, the scarcity theory undelying the conservative budget proposals is simply and demonstrably wrong.  

Donald FreyA basic economics lesson for Paul Ryan and his allies
By Dr. Donald Frey

WINSTON-SALEM – Recently, the Republican leadership of the U.S. House cancelled a vote on the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development bill (the ironic acronym is “THUD”) offered by their House committee. They knew the bill would fail because of the drastic spending cuts tailored to meet the unrealistic guidelines of the Paul Ryan budget adopted earlier this year.

This Ryan budget was unrealistic, not merely in a political sense, but in a far deeper sense. It was premised on the flawed idea of Malthusian scarcity. Read More

HungerMore bad news in this new release from the N.C. Justice Center:

“1,708,000 people in North Carolina will see a cut in their food assistance benefits this fall, when a temporary boost to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) is set to expire, according to new data released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) discussed in a new report from the Washington, DC-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

All of the more than 47 million Americans including 22 million children who receive SNAP, known as Food and Nutrition Services in North Carolina, will see their food assistance reduced when a modest boost in benefits to SNAP recipients that policymakers included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to strengthen the economy and ease hardship expires on October 31.

For a family of three, that cut will mean a reduction of $29 a month— $319 for the remaining 11 months of the fiscal year. This is a serious loss for families whose benefits, after this cut, will average less than $1.40 per person per meal. Read More

Upon returning from its July Fourth Recess, the US House of Representatives will take its shot at writing a “Farm Bill,” the authorizing legislation for the nation’s farm security, conservation, and nutritional safety net programs.  Unlike the Senate-passed version of the bill, which reduced funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)—also known as food stamps—by a minimal $4.6 billion, the House version of the bill circulated by Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) Thursday in advance of committee mark-up next week takes a much bigger knife to this critical program that keeps nearly 1 out of every 5 North Carolinian families from hunger.  Specifically, the House draft cuts SNAP by $16.5 billion over the next ten years, a deep cut that a just-released report from the Center on Budget & Policy Priorities finds will eliminate food assistance to 2 to 3 million low-income people, mostly low-income working families with children and seniors.

In the midst of high unemployment and falling wages, now is not the time to cut this critical program that helps keep hunger at bay for so many North Carolina families.