Republicans Taking Food From Poor Children While Refocusing on Poverty Messaging

Moneybox
A blog about business and economics.
Jan. 9 2014 8:46 AM

Congress Taking Food From Poor Kids

461406063
Pay no attention to the SNAP cuts behind the flag.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Recent efforts by Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan to focus their policy ideas around poverty-themed messaging have tended to distract attention from the actual policymaking process working its way through Congress in which Democrats and Republicans are reaching across the aisle to cut food assistance to poor families by $9 billion. Democrats in the Senate had initially put together a bill to cut food assistance to poor families by $4 billion while House Republicans wanted $40 billion in cuts. So relative to initial conservative demands, this is only a modest amount of cutting that's happening, but it is quite a bit of cutting.

And oh yes, this cutting comes in the context of a "farm bill" that still offers many billions of dollars in subsidies to producers of agricultural commodities. A person who actually cared about the poor could easily insist that we not start cutting food assistance to poor people until we've cut all we can cut from farm subsidies.

Advertisement

And oh yes, the budget deficit is falling rapidly and we actually had a surplus in December so that's not the reason we need to cut food assistance to poor families.

And oh yes, the long-term unemployed have lost their social insurance benefits, and there are no plans in place to help them find work.

So that's the state of anti-poverty policy in America. Republicans are fighting for cuts in programs to help poor people, Democrats are restraining the extent of those cuts, money continues to flow to non-poor constituencies that conservatives happen to like better, and the biggest victims of the Great Recession are getting nothing. Here's Jonathan Cohn's analysis of Rubio's policy proposals, which mostly seem to me to lack the kind of detailed budgetary framework that would be necessary to really evaluate them. Some people say it's at least good to see these politicians talking about poverty and focusing attention on the issue, but it seems to me that their talk has mostly distracted attention from relevant aspects of the policy process.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

Stop Panicking. America Is Now in Very Good Shape to Respond to the Ebola Crisis.

The 2014 Kansas City Royals Show the Value of Building a Mediocre Baseball Team

The GOP Won’t Win Any Black Votes With Its New “Willie Horton” Ad

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Technocracy

Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

One of Putin’s Favorite Oligarchs Wants to Start an Orthodox Christian Fox News

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

Trending News Channel
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 20 2014 8:14 PM You Should Be Optimistic About Ebola Don’t panic. Here are all the signs that the U.S. is containing the disease.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 20 2014 7:23 PM Chipotle’s Magical Burrito Empire Keeps Growing, Might Be Slowing
  Life
Outward
Oct. 20 2014 3:16 PM The Catholic Church Is Changing, and Celibate Gays Are Leading the Way
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don't Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 9:13 PM The Smart, Talented, and Utterly Hilarious Leslie Jones Is SNL’s Newest Cast Member
  Technology
Technocracy
Oct. 20 2014 11:36 PM Forget Oculus Rift This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual-reality experience.
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 20 2014 11:46 AM Is Anybody Watching My Do-Gooding? The difference between being a hero and being an altruist.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.