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Every vote critical!

22nd November 2013   ·   0 Comments

By Dr. E. Faye Williams Columnist

Two issues weigh heavily on my mind. The first issue is that of hunger in America and the reactionary Republican effort to apply an even greater amount of downward economic pressure on the poorest of Americans by reducing supplemental food assistance. Republicans seem not to be bothered that they are increasing poor people’s collective misery.

The second issue is my concern about a decrease in those voting when no presidential candidate is on the ticket. Republicans tend to make voting more difficult since Democrats have found a way to get more people to the polls that tend to support more progressive outcomes. That’s a good thing!

In view of the first critical issue that’s plaguing our country and flooding our media, some may have missed the news that House Republicans have allowed the stimulus funding for SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, to expire. On November 1, monthly benefits for SNAP households decreased. A family of four, for example, now receives $36 less each month to help put healthy food on the table. These cuts come at a time when many hardworking American families are still struggling to make ends meet in the wake of the worst recession in decades.

A study by Moody’s looked at the potential impact of each of these eliminated dollars. The study shows that the fastest way to infuse money into the economy is through expanding the SNAP/Food Stamp program. “If someone who is literally living paycheck to paycheck gets an extra dollar, it’s very likely that they will spend that dollar immediately on whatever they need—groceries, telephone bill, electric bill,” said economist Mark Zandi. That single dollar helps to pay the salaries of the grocery clerks, the truckers who haul the food and produce cross-country, and finally it goes to the farmer who grows the crops. USDA research shows that each $5 of federal SNAP/Food Stamp benefits generates nearly twice that in economic activity. Last year, the support provided by SNAP lifted four million people out of poverty.

This short-sighted failure by the Republican House majority is a part of a value system that is obviously rooted deeply in their animus for all persons and things outside the embrace of the top economic one percent. It’s either this animus or their dedicated obsession to purge historical evidence of anything positive that is attributable to President Obama — or both. In error, they believe themselves to be champions of the people they victimize by preventing them from dependency upon government and breaking the nasty habit of requiring nutrition at regular intervals. In truth, the majority of those who fall victim to these Republican misguided policies are the elderly, children or the working poor. These victims number in the millions.

Instead of reducing the number of SNAP recipients by providing realistic training opportunities for those under-employed or passing a comprehensive jobs initiative for those prepared to enter the workforce, but, lacking a job opportunity, this Congress is doubling-down on their dramatic removal of nutritional support.

The politics of this type of Congressional behavior is clear to me—those who do not vote do not count. If those impacted by these draconian actions were more of a threat to the political lives of those in power, I’m sure a lesser number would support these cuts to nutritional programs. If more voters were empathetic to human need and understanding of the real damage inflicted by these cuts, there’d be real change in Congress.

That’s why I have such great interest in all elections. In the past week, the differing choices had never been clearer. Those who voted in places like Virginia seemed to do so with the clear understanding that each opportunity to vote has evolved into a basic act of self-defense.

Dr. E. Faye Williams, National Chair, National Congress of Black Women. (202) 678-6788.­tional­

This article originally published in the November 18, 2013 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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