SNAP Cuts Have Dire Consequences
Eight hundred and eighty-nine thousand people in Massachusetts now have less money to feed their families. They are among the 47 million Americans who saw their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits reduced on Nov. 1 due to the end of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that passed four years ago. These numbers represent a staggering number of people who will have less money to feed their families. The cut means that a family of four will lose $36 a month from its maximum monthly benefit. While this may not seem like a lot, $36 provides much more than you might think. It’s hard to imagine the strain this will place on struggling families who are counting every penny and trying to stretch their family’s food budget.
We expect that these cuts will result in an increased need for food assistance at food pantries and soup kitchens across the area that are already stretched meeting sustained high need in the wake of the recession. At The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts and throughout the Feeding America national food bank network, we are doing everything we can to prepare for that influx. As damaging as these cuts have been, there are more to come that are certain to have a significant impact on local families facing food insecurity. In September, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation cutting $40 billion in SNAP over the next 10 years. Together with the cuts beginning on Nov. 1, the pending legislation will result in a loss of nearly 3.4 billion meals for low-income Americans in 2014 alone—a potentially devastating blow to many of our neighbors, friends and colleagues. In Massachusetts, the average household receiving SNAP will lose about 22 days’ worth of food.
Taken Down by Inequality
Besides a living minimum wage, our economy needs a maximum wage. Rob, Alice, Jim and Christy Walton will each receive $1.3 billion in dividends this year from Walmart profits. That’s $8.5 million every day, while the Walmart workforce needs public assistance to stay alive. That dividend income is not subject to Social Security or Medicare tax.
That’s the basic problem. Inequality is too extreme. The recovery would be vastly enhanced if income over, say, $5 million were taxed at 90 percent. Ninety-five percent of all income since the recession has gone to the top 1 percent, which is why we cannot recover.
Obama needs to meet with the Waltons, the Koch brothers and others and convince them, as FDR did, that they could still be rich but have a better place to live. We don’t want to turn into Haiti, where there is no middle class, the super-rich cannot go out in public without guards and the infrastructure is substandard.