Slapping the poor just for the hell of it

Wednesday, October 2, 2013   |   Posted by Jim Hightower
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The bluebirds of happiness are chirping away in our nation's treetops, for America is now in the fifth year of economic recovery, with stock prices at record highs, corporate profits soaring, and employment is even ticking upwards.

But wait, what's this? Down below the treetops, down at the grassroots, poverty persists and is spreading. Also, income disparity is worsening as middle-class workers are pushed into lower-wage jobs and poor people are pushed out entirely. Far from happiness, joblessness among our lowest-income families is now the worst on record, topping 21 percent.

The plight of the poor is so dramatic that even Republican leaders in the US House have noticed them and are reaching out with open hands – unfortunately, not to help lift up the needy, but to slap them in the face. In a gratuitous act of callousness, the GOP slashed $4 billion-a-year out of the food stamp program, complaining that even though our economy is recovering, more and more people are getting food assistance.

Apparently these congress critters never even visit reality. Hello, boneheads – the program has expanded only because all of the "recovery" benefits went to those at the top, leaving those at ground level reaching desperately for food stamps as a life preserver. In fact, the program lifted about 4 million Americans above the poverty level last year and kept millions more from sinking deeper into destitution. It's a safety net that's been working – exactly in the way it's supposed to.

Yet, just for the hell of it, these laissez-fairyland Dickensians added insult to the injury their cuts would cause for millions of America's hard-hit people. They tacked on a provision to let the meanest of states force the needy families to submit to humiliating drug tests as the price of obtaining food for their families. And House members wonder why their approval rating is in the ditch!

"Employment gap is widest on record," Austin American Statesman, September 17, 2013.

"Metro area poverty at odds with job growth," Austin American Statesman, September 19, 2013.

"Poverty Rate Up in City, and Income Gap Is Wide, Census Data Show," The New York Times, September 19, 2013.

"House Republicans Pass Deep Cuts in Food Stamps," The New York Times, September 20, 2013.

"Another Insult to the Poor," The New York Times, September 20, 2013.

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