Krugman: The Ugly, Destructive War Against Food Stamps

From Paul Krugman:

I usually read reports about political goings-on with a sort of weary cynicism. Every once in a while, however, politicians do something so wrong, substantively and morally, that cynicism just won’t cut it; it’s time to get really angry instead. So it is with the ugly, destructive war against food stamps. …

Food stamps have played an especially useful — indeed, almost heroic — role in recent years. In fact, they have done triple duty. First, as millions of workers lost their jobs…, food stamps … did significantly mitigate their misery. Food stamps were especially helpful to children…

But there’s more. … We desperately needed (and still need) public policies to promote higher spending on a temporary basis — and the expansion of food stamps … is just such a policy. Indeed, estimates from … Moody’s Analytics suggest that each dollar spent on food stamps in a depressed economy raises G.D.P. by about $1.70…

Wait, we’re not done yet. Food stamps greatly reduce food insecurity among low-income children, which, in turn, greatly enhances their chances of … growing up to be successful, productive adults. So food stamps are … an investment in the nation’s future…

So what do Republicans want to do with this paragon of programs? First, shrink it; then, effectively kill it.

The shrinking part comes from the latest farm bill released by the House Agriculture Committee… That bill would push about two million people off the program. …

These cuts are, however, just the beginning… Remember,… Paul Ryan’s budget is still the official G.O.P. position…, and that budget calls for converting food stamps into a block grant program with sharply reduced spending. If this proposal had been in effect when the Great Recession struck,… it … would have meant vastly more hardship, including a lot of outright hunger, for millions of Americans, and for children in particular.

Look, I understand the supposed rationale: We’re becoming a nation of takers, and doing stuff like feeding poor children and giving them adequate health care are just creating a culture of dependency — and that culture of dependency, not runaway bankers, somehow caused our economic crisis.

But I wonder whether even Republicans really believe that story — or at least are confident enough in their diagnosis to justify policies that more or less literally take food from the mouths of hungry children. As I said, there are times when cynicism just doesn’t cut it; this is a time to get really, really angry.

Summary version of Krugman’s column lifted from: Economist’s View

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