The new Congress unveiled its budget proposals for this legislative year. They want to propose "streamlining" spending for essential government programs, including defense, but again they want to pressure cuts to the Food Stamp Program and to Medicaid. Thus, they are echoing again the political theatre that was generated in 2012 when Rep. Paul Ryan R. Wisconsin submitted a similar proposal, only to receive blowback from none other than "Nuns On The Bus. "
The new plan calls for saving one trillion dollars over a 10-year period but at the expense of cutting food stamps and welfare. What is amazing is that the very architects of this legislation have probably no idea what it is like to live on public assistance. They do not know what it is like to be a single mother with children who is attempting to pay for rent, for food, utilities etc. on a very limited amount of money. Nor do they realize what it is like to be both mother and father raising a child alone with no immediate, available support system.
I wonder why this Congress wants to go after single mothers with children who are on limited income. Why do they also want to go after the elderly, who also are on fixed incomes, and are worried about shelter, utility expenses, and getting appropriate food and medicine?
Why is it when there is discussion about "streamlining" spending these groups of people are always mentioned and targeted, and never military defense contractors, the defense department, let alone oil and energy, bank and other financial lobbyist entities? This gives new dimension to what could be described as those who are "worthy "of government assistance versus those who are considered to be "unworthy."
As my deceased social worker friend use to observe: "We need another bowl of porridge!"
Does Congress realize that even if you propose quote a "meager" cut in the amount that a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipient receives that the consequences of that cut will ripple like a tidal wave throughout the economy and that bottom line, children, will suffer?
In the book of Ezekiel, the writer says, "I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh." -- Ezekiel 36:26.
I don't think Congress knows this Biblical reference.
When have you seen a member of Congress recently spend any significant time at an overrun, exhausted, nearly depleted church food pantry? When has a member of Congress spent an evening in a very crowded emergency room when indigent people, including those who are suicidal, are waiting for hours to receive medical care?
Members of Congress have instead tended to value instead martini receptions with major political donors and lobbyists, obligatory workouts and rub downs at the Congressional gym, essential tee times on afternoons at the Congressional golf course, lots of press conferences where there is talk about "synergy", exotic quote fact-finding junket trips to various foreign erstwhile destinations, and of course going to DuPont Circle to get that ever-prized Mount Blanc Pen.
"I will take away your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh" has somehow fallen on deaf ears.
I remember when a former president characterized those on welfare as "welfare queens driving Cadillacs." In the first church parish in Morrison and Pershing, Missouri that I served as a minister, we had people living in welfare, but they weren't driving Cadillacs, and to quote The Beatles, it wasn't "Baby, you can drive my car," it was rather that they had no car to drive.
If it had not been for the concern and charity of my parishioners at St. James United Church of Christ in Morrison, Missouri; and Zion-St. Peter United Church Of Christ in Pershing, Missouri; and the Five Church Association in St. Louis; Mary who was a young but indigent poor African-American woman -- and who was kicked out of City Hospital in St. Louis because the hospital closed due to budget cuts in 1980 -- would have died had not our churches assisted her.
We had another president say years later, "We need to get people off of welfare and to get them working." That's fine as long as you have the infrastructure that will support transportation and child care and education for single parents -- those who are primarily women, including women of color.
Another recent presidential candidate was heard to say, "Oh, the churches will take care of them." Really, I wonder if this former presidential candidate is aware that several religious denominations (i.e. in the amount of one million to one-and-a-half million members) are actively closing churches, and consolidating conferences, districts and other judicatories.
It must be nice to be in your own solipsistic universe and be totally oblivious to anything that would be true reality.
Can Congress SNAP out of it? I hope and pray that they can, but it will require a change of heart and a real change of priorities. If this doesn't happen, then I think we will still be seeing exceeding low public approval ratings and total inaction on any kind of meaningful policy, let alone change.
I'm told that those Mount Blanc pens allegedly never run out of ink. That's good. We'll need it because Congress in running out of sense.
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