In the vortex of bunk that serves as the politics of the Right, the refrain of “austerity” rings often, hollow and cruel. We all know the talking points by now. “We’re broke. Poverty relief and entitlement programs are bloated and need reform. You can’t spend your way out of a recession but you can do it with tax-breaks. Pay up, little people–the rich need more comforts.”
“Austerity,” seems to be defined by sacrifices from those who can least afford to make them and wealth for those who were already plenty wealthy. To help this austerity along, a permanent panic over the state of public finances is encouraged by the Right, the political servants of the 1%.
This state of panic featured prominently in the Paul Ryan’s recent budget plan approved by a Republican-dominated House of Representatives at the end of March. Sometimes, though, in a panic (or an induced panic), we become so fixated on relieving the one attention-demanding emergency that we can easily forget what else we might be losing.
While tax breaks are sheltered and military spending continues to rise in his latest budget proposal, Paul Ryan’s budget mandates cuts directly to the most vital and important of our safety net features: poverty relief programs. In terms of flexibility to grow and shrink as the economy gets better or worse, SNAP (formerly known as the Food Stamp program) is designed to offer a highly responsive public mechanism for avoiding mass misery in times of economic crisis. An efficient and humane program, SNAP is antithetical to everything on the Right so it is with little surprise we note that, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
“Paul Ryan’s budget plan includes cuts in SNAP (formerly known as the Food Stamp Program) of $133.5 billion — more than 17 percent — over the next ten years (2013-2022), which would necessitate ending assistance for millions of low-income families, cutting benefits for millions of such households, or some combination of the two.”
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