Republicans Are Willing To Starve Children To Save Money?
December 3, 2010
(ChattahBox Op/Ed) – Republicans used a procedural maneuver yesterday to block critical funding to expand and provide funding for the school age free lunch (and breakfast) program. The bill would also have made the meals healthier. This program titled “Let’s Move” is the pet project of First Lady Michelle Obama and on top of providing critical funding the program is geared at reducing childhood obesity, which many Pediatricians believe to be at epidemic levels.
Republicans say the program is too costly, ignoring research that shows that as many as 26 million children go to bed hungry every night and as almost 20 million children participate in a free lunch program in their school. Of that 20 million, the free lunch is the main meal and sometimes the only meal that child receives for the entire day.But, as the Democrats were able to remove the “procedural” delay tactic, the Bill was passed by a vote of 264-157 with 17 Republicans voting in favor of the Bill and four Democrats voting against it. It goes to the President today for his signature as the Senate passed this legislation this past summer.
This is ultimately great news for the program and at another time I will be more than happy to walk you all through what the Bill does, but for now it’s the intent of Republicans to block this vote that have me up in arms.
Citing voter disapproval of spending, Republicans said that the program, for all its good, was not a priority and that ANY Bill that costs money should be shelved until other more pressing issues are resolved. In theory that sounds great, in practice it is ill directed and was political maneuvering at its best, or worst depending on your point of view. You can guess mine.
We now live in a country where a gallon of milk costs three times what a gallon of soda costs. We live in a country where junk food is much cheaper to buy than healthy alternatives. And we live in a country where pre-packaged convenience food is not only terribly unhealthy, it is literally killing children. I also realize that there is the parental component here and that the choices parents are making need to be targeted and improved, but with the economy stressed to the breaking point, many families look at their food budget as one place where they can save dollars, and the bad choices are made.
Reported unemployment numbers released just a few hours ago show an increase once again, by .2% points to 9.8%. Unemployment benefits were cut off on Wednesday to millions of unemployed and with the pressure on to put food on the family table, what is someone to do when it’s cheaper to buy Doritos than it is to buy apples? Talk about an upside down pricing strategy.
Ultimately what Republicans did yesterday was use children as a political football. And don’t you dare tell me that everything worked out well in the end so I need to back off because the compromise to help fund the Bill was to take 2.2 billion dollars out of the Food Stamp Program that is critical to so many families right now. It’s just wrong no matter how you cut it.
I have a fix though, and it would provide an immediate $700 billion dollar infusion to the bottom line of the next fiscal year, which ends at the end of the month. Allow the Bush tax cuts to expire as scheduled and a large piece of the problem is solved immediately. It’s is that simple.
Now, let’s quickly explore what Republicans are asking for. They want to cut spending and they were willing to start by starving children. That’s on their conscience. They want to extend the tax cuts to protect their donor base, but have no compunction about dismantling programs that benefit the greater good, and let me remind you, and it’s sad that I have to, but the major reason our economy is in the toilet is because Republicans heartily supported the largest expansion of the Federal Government in our history during the years George W. Bush was President. The same Republicans that caused the problem are the same Republicans that continue to lie about their complicity. It’s wrong but it’s real.
This is just a teaser of what’s to come in just over a month. Democrats still control the House or this Bill that will aid millions of children for the better would have crashed and burned. What’s next?
And voters: remember, you have to be careful what you vote for because you may just get it. You’ve been warned.
Tony Trupiano is a former national syndicated progressive radio talk show host, author, and a former candidate for Congress. He is also a nationally recognized media trainer. He can be reached at email@example.com