Do we need more hungry kids? Amodei says YES.

— by Rich Dunn

During the Great Recession, enrollment in SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, doubled to 47 million. Benefits average $133 per month. Most of the beneficiaries are children, elderly or disabled. $133 per month is $4.37 a day, and even with that, the Sodexo Foundation estimates that 17 million American children go to bed hungry every night. No telling how many more there will be after the Recovery Act’s 13% boost in SNAP benefits expires on November 1st.

But it gets worse. On September 19th, the House of Representatives approved H.R. 3102 by a vote of 217 to 210. This bill cuts another $40 billion from SNAP over ten years through a number of rule changes, from delinking nutrition assistance from other anti-poverty programs to limiting childless recipients to 90 days worth of benefits, regardless of need. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that H.R. 3102 would remove four million beneficiaries from SNAP in 2014, another three million a year after that.

To their credit, not a single Democrat voted in favor of H.R. 3102. Fifteen Republicans voted no, but Rep. Mark Amodei, R-NV, was not one of those brave souls, all of whom will no doubt be primaried in 2014 by forces on the far right of their party. The lesson for voters who care about hunger in America is simple: party matters. Look closely at what each party in congress stands for, and vote for the candidate of the party that shares your values. Politics is about policies, not personalities.

 by Vickie Rock

Prior to the House casting their vote on HR3102, I took the time to call Rep. Amodei’s office and express my concern that far too many unemployed Reservists between deployments to Afghanistan, families of low paid service members currently deployed in Afghanistan and veterans of various actions authorized by Congress will be adversely impacted by cuts to SNAP.  I specifically asked that he vote AGAINST passage of HR3102 and asked for a written response detailing whether Mr. Amodei even understood the adverse impact this draconian bill would have on the troops he purports to support.  That letter arrived in today’s mail:

Amodei-HR3102

 

I seriously disagree with Mr. Amodei that a “YES” vote is equivalent to “good stewardship” of taxpayer dollars and that in doing so, former SNAP recipients dumped from those roles would thus be able to make better and healthier diet choices that would reduce their health care and grocery costs.  The only thing that’s going to be reduced is their grocery bill, in that they won’t have sufficient money to put food on their tables.  And, if Mr. Amodei somehow thinks that starving people is going to help reduce their health care costs he must be a truly hard-core believer in the GOP’s “hurry up and friggin’ die” health care plan for the United States of Republica!

Nevadans may not have sent Sharron Angle to the Senate, but NV-CD2 certainly sent a Sharron Angle Wannabee to the House.  We need to fix that in 2014!

The Dream — and the Reality

In America, whites have 20 times the wealth of African-Americans.  So says census data.

Not 20% more.  Not twice as much.  Twenty times as much.  Specifically, the median household wealth for whites in 2009 was $113,149, and the median household wealth for African-Americans was $5,677.

When I heard this a few months ago, it was not entirely news to me.  When I was in Congress, I read the reports that the Federal Reserve sent to Members; to me, that was interesting reading.  In the appendix to one of those Fed reports, from a survey of respondents selected in 2007, these numbers caught my eye:

White, non-Hispanic households – $149,900

Hispanic and African-American households – $23,300

So from $149,900 down to $113,149, and from $23,300 (including Hispanics) down to $5,677.  These numbers confirm just how hard the Great Recession has whacked minority households.

But there is a deeper issue.  Can someone please explain to me how, in a country where we are told again and again that we are “all created equal,” one group ends up with 20 times as much as another?

MLK’s dream was that his four young children would “one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”  What are we supposed to think – that one group has twenty times as much character as another?

In the face of incredible numbers like these, you will still find right-wingers who insist that America is now a color-blind society (except for the scourge of “reverse racism”).  But the numbers tell a different story.  They suggest that America is not a color-blind society, but rather a racism-blind society.

And ask yourself:  when has any elected official, ANY elected official, ever discussed this inconvenient truth, and tried to discern what should be done about it?  Why is there a veil of silence over such a salient, central fact about the country we all share?

I went to a wonderful parade on Saturday, celebrating Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday.  And if there is one thing that we know in Central Florida, it’s how to put on a parade; we have several every day.  All those smiling, happy faces that I saw on Saturday.

And it’s not my job to rain on anyone’s parade.  That’s why I’m saying this today, not yesterday, when we celebrated Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday.  But here we are, 49 years later, his “four young children” as old as I am, and one of them already gone from us.

And I have to say, about that dream of equality that he had, it’s still just a dream.

Just a dream.

Courage,

Alan Grayson

Robert Kennedy, on dreams:  “There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why . . . . I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?”