February 7, 2014
On Friday, President Obama added his signature to legislation that will cut $8.7 billion in food stamp benefits over the next 10 years, causing 850,000 households to lose an average of $90 per month. The signing of the legislation known as the 2014 Farm Bill occurred at a public event in East Lansing, Mich.
The food stamp cuts are one component of a massive omnibus bill which also includesbillions of dollars in crop insurance and various other programs and subsidies involving American agriculture. Before he signed the legislation, President Obama praised it as an example of bipartisan problem-solving that would help create jobs and move the American economy forward.
“Congress passed a bipartisan Farm Bill that is going to make a big difference in communities across the country,” said the president.
Obama’s remarks also focused heavily on economic inequality, which he has previously called “the defining challenge of our time.” The Farm Bill, he said, would “give more Americans a shot at opportunity.”
When House Republicans originally argued for a food stamp cut of between $20.5 billion and $39 billion, the White House threatened to veto both of those proposals. During his Friday speech, the president did not say whether he was satisfied with the final $8.7 billion figure, or even mention the cuts at all. Instead, he praised the food stamp program and said that the final Farm Bill preserved much-needed benefits.
“My position has always been that any Farm Bill I sign must include protections for vulnerable Americans, and thanks to the hard work of [Senate Agriculture Committee chair Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich] and others, it does just that,” he said.
Stabenow, who played a key role in Farm Bill negotiations, fully embraced the cuts in a speech delivered shortly before the president took the stage.
“This is a nutrition bill that makes sure families have a safety net just like farmers do,” she said. “The savings in food assistance came solely from addressing fraud and misuse while maintaining the important benefits for families that need temporary help.”
Speaking to reporters on Air Force One before the speech, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack made much the same point, saying that the $8.7 billion cut “probably makes the program more legitimate than it was.”
In fact, the benefits reduction would eliminate the state-level “Heat and Eat” policies currently employed in 15 states and Washington, D.C. Left-wing opponents of the Farm Bill, including Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., expect the burden of burden of the cuts to fall disproportionately on the elderly and disabled.
“Poor people are getting screwed by this Republican majority [in the House] and Democrats in my opinion aren’t doing enough to push back,” he said. “I wish there had been more of a fight from the White House and others.”
McGovern also admitted to being “puzzled” by the White House’s silence on hunger and food stamp cuts. He predicted that Republicans’ success in getting a several billion dollar food stamp cut meant that they would soon try again for even more.
“They know they can’t get a $40 billion cut right off the bat, so what they’re doing is they’re chipping away at it,” he said.
Nobody is sleeping on the streets.
something New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg actually said.
Apparently the thousands of NYC children & adults who live on the streets every day don’t exist. I do outreach & advocacy for homeless youth in all five boroughs & obviously, this statement is 100 percent false, degrading, deceitful & shameful. I see young people trying to find shelter in train stations, alley ways, bus stops, parks & anywhere they can find refuge from the cold weather.
There are 22,000 homeless children in NYC alone, & more than 4,000 youth who sleep on the streets each night. NYC shelters provide only 250 beds. Not only do these shelters rarely have vacancy & are difficult to get into, especially for a young person, they are also dangerous & unsanitary.
Homelessness in New York City (& elsewhere) is a huge fucking problem. In mostly neighborhoods of color, the system de-funds their schools, pushes out their small businesses & affordable housing with skyrocketing rent to fulfill an agenda of gentrification & exploits low-wage workers, eventually forcing people into illegal economies, such as selling drugs & sex work, & eventually onto the streets.
Fuck you, $$$$$Michael Bloomberg$$$$$
December 19, 2013
A 50-year-old California man described by relatives as a “loving father and a doting grandfather,” White had been living on the streets of Hayward for years. He wanted to work and was able to find odd jobs here and there, but it was never much or consistent enough to afford a place to live. Hayward has no emergency shelter with beds for single men, so White slept outside.
But things were looking up. Last Saturday, White was second on a long list to get permanent supportive housing in Hayward. He had been waiting in line for months and it seemed as though he might finally catch a break.
White died on Sunday.
Temperatures in the Bay Area plummeted to near-freezing on December 10, an uncommon occurrence in a region generally known for its lack of inclement weather. White’s body was found in the old Hayward City Hall courtyard. He’d been beaten up and robbed by multiple men, who took the new winter coat White’s sister had given him on Friday. He was wearing just a hoodie and shorts. His cause of death is still being determined, but police speculated that his death was weather-related.
White is now the seventh homeless person in the Bay Area to die in the cold since November 28. The others were Daniel Brillhart, 52; Enrique Rubio, 56; Andrew Greenleaf, 48; Daniel Moore, 53; and two men in the East Bay and Peninsula whose names have not been released.
According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, approximately 700 homeless people die from hypothermia every year. Those deaths tend to occur in the East Coast and Midwest, not California. But temperatures in the Bay have repeatedly dipped below freezing in the past few weeks, leaving thousands of homeless people in danger.
The Bay Area has one of the highest homeless populations in part because of the explosion of recent wealth that has led to increasing inequality and a lack of affordable housing for those without high-paying tech jobs. The San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose metropolitan area is the wealthiest in the country, even outpacing New York-Connecticut and Washington DC-Maryland-Northern Virginia. This influx of money has brought higher housing prices and more evictions in the past few years.
And for those viscerally impacted by rising inequality, life is especially difficult when the temperatures drop. Many communities in the Bay Area lack emergency shelters, in part because freezes aren’t very common. But what happens to many of the thousands of people living without shelter in the Bay Area, waiting for their name to be called for the few affordable housing units that exist? “What happens is they die on the street,” Betty DeForest, director emeritus of South Hayward Parish, wrote in an email to the City Council last week following White’s death.
In other words, we live in a society that leaves many people too poor to survive but are surprised to see them die.