Sunday, January 26, 2014

Oh Snap!

Oh Snap!
“Oh snap” was a cultural phrase used In the 80’s to describe something funny, exciting or dramatic.  Today, I’m using the phrase to articulate concern for the federally funded S.N.A.P, (supplemental nutrition assistance program) specifically food stamps.  There’s a debate raging in Congress regarding S.N.A.P. and other federally funded programs like it.  With the lack of a farm bill being put into place by Congress, S.N.A.P is facing a mandatory 6% decrease in benefits for recipients.  Some looking at the reductions would see them as minimum.  A household of one person would see a reduction of $11 in monthly benefits. Two-person households will see a reduction of $20; three-person families will be reduced by $29, and four-person households will lose $36.  These are relatively small amounts, but when your income is growing less than inflation, any reduction in benefits is exacerbated.   My criticism of Congresses handling of this issue is Congress’s own report from the Congressional Research Service indicated by the U.S. department of agriculture, (USDA) projects that annual U.S. food inflation will be in the range of 3% to 4% for 2013 and relatively the same for 2014.  If this is indeed the case, how in the world can our federal elected officials allow this benefit to be cut?

While many criticize federally funded programs like S.N.A.P and think many who receive food stamps are lazy and less motivated.  They fail to realize, many of our disabled, seniors and in some cases, veterans also receive food stamps.  Despite what many may think, the food stamp program is crucial to the well being of the most vulnerable population in the U.S.   I agree, monitoring the abuse of this program is needed, but to continue to squeeze this population is shameful in my opinion.  Congress seems far less concern with approving COLA, (cost of living adjustment), increasing COLA, for federal retirees 1.3% in 2013 and 1.5% in 2014, then making sure the most vulnerable in the U.S. has enough food to eat.  I agree most of our federal retirees deserve their COLA increase, the point I’m making is, there seems to be a clear attack by some in Congress on the poor and needy.  For any of our federally elected officials to think a 6% decrease in food stamps is ok, when the price of food is rising by 3% to 4%, is not only irresponsible, but dangerous.  As a citizen, you get every two years to voice your approval or displeasure of how your congressman is representing your needs.  This year, 2014 is that year, follow the issues important to you and use your vote to voice your opinion.

William Hughes Jr.
4th Ward Supervisor, City of Hudson
Minority Leader, Columbia County Board of Supervisors