President, Strategic Communications, LLC

Friday, March 15, 2013

Hunger, Racism and Republicans

There ought to be a law against it but there is not. In the richest country in the world, one out of five children, 15 million kids, is hungry each day. According to No Kid Hungry ( 48.8 million Americans—including 16.2 million children— live in households that lack the means to get enough nutritious food on a regular basis. These children live in large urban centers and in rural areas.

It is a national crime and the Republican policy makers in the House of Representatives are guilty of enslaving another generation to poverty and applying the lash of hunger. The GOP’s latest budget slashes $4.6 trillion in cuts largely in funding for SNAP (formerly Food Stamps), aid to the poor, Medicare and Medicaid.

You need not look beyond the red states of the old confederacy to see this modern day version of Jim-Crow - no more poll taxes, just state ID cards and no food, virulent racist tools to deny equal rights and basic human dignity to nearly 50 million fellow citizens.

Rates of food insecurity are substantially higher than the national average among households with incomes near or below the federal poverty line, among households with children headed by single parents (35.1% of female-headed households with children are food-insecure) and among Black and Hispanic households. Today food insecurity in GOP red states is astounding:

In Alabama – 26.7%
In Arkansas – 27.8%
In Florida – 28.4%
In Georgia – 28.3%
In Kentucky – 22.7
In Mississippi – 28.3%
In Louisiana – 23.1%
In North Carolina – 27.6%
In South Carolina – 27.1%
In Tennessee – 25.1%
In Texas – 27.1%
In Virginia – 16.4%

The cuts demanded by the GOP are nothing but, call it what it is - racist. They are designed to widen the disparities between the “haves” and the have-nots.” They are designed to enslave another generation in poverty. They are designed to deny the American dream to people who disagree with the GOP on just about everything.

During the last 30 years a bargain was struck by Former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-KS) and the late US Senate George McGovern (D-SD). They came from farm country. They knew the power of food. They knew there was no justifiable reason for a child to be left behind and go hungry in this nation of vast abundance. So, when the Farm Bill roiled around every five years Dole got his farm subsidies for the rich growers and McGovern got nutrition aid for the poor. It worked until the GOP decided it was too expensive to feed children, even one hot meal a day.

The Obama Administration has been fighting for social justice, with little to show for its efforts when 60 votes is needed to pass anything in the Senate and the House cannot agree on where the sun rises. We have an intolerable situation. In the words etched into the memory of every political science student, especially those from Wisconsin, I say, “Mr. Ryan, have you no decency, sir?”