Local House Dems decry vote to slash food aid

The House voted 217-210 today for a H.R. 3102, a Republican-backed bill that would effectively strip almost $40 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps.

Democrats say more than 4 million Americans will lose their food assistance next year; three-fourths of households receiving SNAP aid include a child, senior or disabled person. Bay Area Democrats spoke out vehemently against the bill.

From the floor speech by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco:

“A couple of weeks ago, I was in Houston, Texas visiting my grandchildren and we were at mass. And the sermon was a beautiful one and the gospel was that day, too. Many of our colleagues have quoted the Gospel of Matthew: ‘When I was hungry, you [fed] me.’ And other parts of the bible, and the Gospel that day was talking about how we have a responsibility to each other. In the sermon, the priest said something that I think we should consider as we consider our vote here today. He said: ‘You just can’t come church and pray on Sunday and go out and prey on people for the rest of the week.’

“This legislation is preying – P-R-E-Y-I-N-G – on people, on children, on veterans, on seniors, on all those who are struggling to do their best in our country. It is our moral obligation to reject this legislation and to preserve these investments that every American needs, for Americans who need them, and other Americans who want them to have it. It is our moral duty to vote down this measure and to work across the aisle in conference on a comprehensive farm bill that ensure food security, supports our farmers and ranchers, and strengthens rural communities.

“Community. That should be the word of the hour. What is the responsibility to our community? It certainly isn’t to say the kids: ‘We want you to do your best in school, but we are not going to fuel your mind by giving you food to eat.’ Or to thank our veterans by depriving them of this [and] our seniors for all that they have done.

“Something is very wrong with this picture. But I know one thing is for sure: every person who votes for this Republican measure is voting to hurt his or her own constituents because we all represent people who at some time need help.”

From Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Napa:

“This bill is staggeringly out of touch with what the American people want and need. Cuts of this magnitude take food out of the mouths of millions of Americans and doom any hope of compromise on a full five year extension of the Farm Bill. Instead of wasting time on bills like the one offered today by the House Majority, we should be working with the Senate on a compromise bill that is fair to our farmers and ranchers, incentivizes conservation, and protects hard working families, seniors and children from devastating cuts that will cause millions to go hungry.”

From Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Pleasanton:

“Today the Tea Party and their Republican allies decided to make it harder on people already struggling to put food on the table by passing a bill that cuts $40 billion from nutrition assistance programs over the next ten years. This bill would deny benefits to at least four million low-income Americans, at a time when many Americans are still struggling to find work as we continue to rebound from the Great Recession.

“SNAP is a vital tool to fight hunger and help struggling Americans. In my district, more than 13,000 households receive SNAP benefits. Although there are two million fewer jobs today than in 2007, this extreme Republican bill eliminates nutrition benefits for out-of-work adults even if they live in high unemployment areas and regardless of how hard they are trying to find work.

“Today’s bill is mean-spirited, short-sighted and one I proudly voted against. We should be working together to create jobs and grow the economy, not take food out of the mouths of hungry children.”

From Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael:

“The Tea Party fringe has yet again led the House to approve extreme legislation that will never become law. SNAP is a lifeline for millions of American families who cannot afford to eat without this modest assistance. SNAP keeps food on the table for 47 million Americans. Today’s vote was yet another example of House Republicans doubling down on their cruel austerity diet for America.”

From Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez:

“House Republicans are doubling down on a bad idea. Cutting SNAP will not only increase hunger in America, it will cost the nation jobs in the food industry. Because when poor families don’t have enough to eat, they go without. This isn’t an economic stimulus — it’s a national outrage.

“To add insult to injury, 14 members of Congress have gone so far as to vote to enrich themselves and wealthy special interests with farm subsidies, while voting against benefits to millions of the neediest and most vulnerable Americans. I issued a report earlier this year that detailed these 14 members of Congress who are collectively worth up to $124 million and received at least $7.2 million in farm subsidies but voted to cut nutrition aid for 47 million Americans without batting an eye.

“If the majority really wants to save money on food stamps, let’s raise the minimum wage so taxpayers don’t have to pick up the tab for low wage employers, and let’s pass legislation that puts people back to work. But it’s truly the height of hypocrisy to throw needy families off food stamps while taking farm subsidies for yourself.”

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

    It’s a 5% cut folks. The able bodied with no dependents will no longer be allowed to dine on the taxpayers forever.

  • MichaelB

    The Democrats are the ones who are “staggeringly out of touch on this issue”. There are record numbers of people on food stamps. It’s not something to be proud of/needs to be reduced/is not a long term solution.

    If anyone questions the status quo we get the usual responses – “you are starving the kids”, “it’s mean spirited”, “it’s cruel”, etc.

    People need jobs/full time unemployment.

    Obama’s economic policies have failed. His regulatory policies have discouraged job creation and we should have had stronger economic/job growth coming out of a recession. Passing a minimum wage increase, another government “stimulus” bill, more “green job” subsidies or a tax increase on the “rich” isn’t going to make it any better.

  • RRSenileColumnist

    Farmers have liked food stamps down through the yrs as a nice place to dump surplus product. Fewer folks farming these days

  • Publius

    The Bay Area Pols are operating from a flawed ideology. Take Nancy Pelosi’s comments for instance.
    First. A Progressive Democrat quoting the Bible seems a bit disingenuous. That said, the bible can be quoted to justify any act, left or right. What is really wrong with Nancy’s quote is that she assumes that it is the governments responsibility to do God’s work. I got bad news for the progressives; No matter how much you increase the size and scope of government it will never be big enough to do God’s work.
    Second. In Nancy’s second paragraph she talks of morality and one’s moral duty. Once again the government cannot effectively coerce the population to do what the government believes is morally right. Moral duty is not defined as taking something from someone and giving it to another, I would argue that this merely reduces the overall moral character of the country by effectively pawning off ones true moral obligation to the government. It is hypocritical for a woman to want the government out of her womb, but then turn around and demand government to coerce the populace into feeding the poor under the auspice of morality.
    Lastly. The other keyword that the Liberals throw around is Community. A community is bound by common wants and needs. The most powerful ingredient to any strong effective community is that one voluntarily joins the community and assumes the responsibilities that the community requires to function. I want what a community has to offer, I sacrifice certain aspects of myself to be a part of it freely. Forced community building by a centralized government does not work.
    The answer has not changed since 1776. The answer is Liberty.
    George Miller is true partisan hack . George needs to do us all a favor and retire.

  • Elwood
  • JohnW

    See Wikipedia for definition of “straw man argument.”

  • Bruce

    I don’t know how many hostile people have called me “greedy” for opposing higher taxes. These are mostly the same people who are foolish enough to hand their money to politicians & for tax hike campaigns.
    Foolish JohnW, gave $2,343 to BHO’s 2012 campaign. Every pro-tax politician & pro-tax campaign in the country will ask JohnW for more, more, more. Enjoy the way they love you John. .

  • JohnW

    What you have dug up and reported is true. It’s also entirely irrelevant to the discussion about food stamps and Elwood’s link to Sowell’s Facebook quote about people being called greedy for wanting to keep their own money and not pay more taxes. If you want to keep digging and report about my prison record for bank robbery, feel free. Honest, I was just trying to take from the greedy rich and redistribute the wealth to the poor!. You know how we “liberals” are, always wanting to give the shirt off somebody else’s back.

    Seriously, I don’t indulge in “greed” and “fair share” rhetoric I like to talk about public policy, good or bad. What works and what doesn’t? You’ve seen me argue for going back to the Clinton tax rates (which I would have to pay) and against raising payroll taxes (which I no longer have to pay). I voted against Brown’s Prop. 30 tax hikes on high income people, not because I thought it was “fair” or “unfair,” but because I thought it would be counter-productive. If I speak of “greed,” I’m just as likely to be talking about public employee pensions and BART unions as about Mitt Romney’s “carried interest” taxes.

  • Bruce

    You are an intelligent man JohnW. Except when you’re angry.like this. Obviously the truth makes you mad. One time a group of annoying Republican’s stories did not match each others. I wrote a LTTE about their whoppers.The leader of the group got so mad, he wrote a LTTE in response. He mentioned” Lou” or “he” referring to Lou, 7 times. Then the LTTE was signed Lou M. No one could be that stupid & still be literate… Not even a Republican. None of the angry group, calling themselves The Lafayette Taxpayers Association, would ever tell me who wrote the ridiculous sounding LTTE. I had to guess.

    JohnW. Giving money to BHO, is giving money to the rich. Why don’t you be a nice liberal & give your time & money to the food bank?