Lee & Honda to fast for anti-hunger funding

Representatives Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, and Mike Honda, D-San Jose, are among House members who’ll take part in a day-long fast to raise awareness about protecting programs that benefit the poor and the hungry from federal budget cuts.

This Hunger Fast was organized by Sojourners President and CEO Rev. Jim Wallis, Ambassador Tony Hall, and coalition of groups representing more than 30,000 Americans. Lee will be the first member of Congress to take part; more than two dozen others are expected to take part through Easter Sunday.

The fast’s organizers say budget cuts proposed by House Republicans represent a 2.6 percent cut in total spending, including a 26 percent cut in spending on poverty-focused foreign aid; many of the programs at stake once held bipartisan support. And they say the extension of Bush era-tax cuts last December will cost $6.7 billion through estate planning loopholes alone, even as Congress now considers $7.6 billion cuts to domestic programs for low-income women, infants and children.

“I have always believed that budgets reflect who we are and what we believe in and the budget that was unveiled this week an attack on low- and middle-income people,” Lee, who founded the Congressional Out of Poverty Caucus, said in a news release. “This is about the choices that we face in crafting our budget. Do we stand for unpaid-for tax cuts for millionaires or protecting the most vulnerable populations so that no one in our country goes to bed hungry? Do we stand for more subsidies for oil companies or job training to help put people back to work? I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join me and take part in this hunger fast to bring awareness to these important issues.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Elwood

    “a 26 percent cut in spending on poverty-focused foreign aid”

    Damn, that’s a shame!

    I guess we’ve run out of home grown poverty.

  • John W

    Re #1

    There’s a saying in the advertising business, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted. The problem is knowing which half.” According to Wikipedia, USAID spent about $12 billion on economic assistance in 2009. That’s about 3 percent of non-security discretionary spending. I’m sure some is wasted, but it seems like a more cost-effective way than war to get people to see things our way. We didn’t do the Marshall Plan as a humanitarian project. We did it to contain Communism from spreading to Western Europe. And it worked.

  • Elwood

    I think most is wasted.

    We could improve efficiency by just depositing the money in the Swiss or Cayman accounts of whichever leader of some totally screwed country we’re giving the money to.

  • RR, Uninvited Columnist

    Not sure about the benefits of fasting in this instance. B.L. could use more time in the gym; M.H. is a bit chubby.