With almost 46 million Americans now relying on food stamps, roughly 15 percent of the population, a 74 percent increase since 2007, Republicans are now targeting the program as part of their budget cutting agenda because, you know, if anybody should bear the costs of this crappy economy it's the working poor who tanked the financial markets in the first place.
Presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich last year derided Democrats as "the party of food stamps". And Republican leaders in the House of Representatives propose changing the program so that the funding is through a "block grant" to the states, rather than allowing it to grow automatically when needed due to an emergency, such as a natural disaster or economic crisis.
But of course, if we eliminated food stamps, how would many of the GOP's corporate sponsors get buy, since over the past few decades of slow income growth, food stamps, like Medicaid, has really become part of a government subsidy for low-wage jobs? Take, for example, Genna Saucedo, who relies on food stamps to help her and her son get by on her $9.70/hour 26-hour-a-week job supervising cashiers at a Wal-Mart:
"It's kind of sad that even though I'm working that I need to have government assistance. I have asked them to please put me on full-time so I can have benefits," said the 32-year-old.
She's worked at Wal-Mart for nine months, and applied for food stamps as soon as her probation ended. She said plenty of her colleagues are in the same situation.
So are her customers. Bill Simon, head of Wal-Mart's U.S. operations, told a conference call last Tuesday that the company had seen an increase in the number of shoppers relying on government assistance for food.
Let's see... so one of the ways Wal-Mart keeps its prices so cheap is by paying its employees so little that they qualify for food stamps, and yet many of their customers still can't afford to shop there without food stamps. Now that's what I call an American success story!
Sometimes I'm convinced that the anti-tax corporatist right won't be satisfied until America is plunged into a Dickensian dystopia.