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Food Stamp Cuts Kick Americans When They're Down

By Donna Brazile CNN Contributor | 9/23/2013, 4:27 p.m.

Editor's note: Donna Brazile, a CNN contributor and a Democratic strategist, is vice chairwoman for voter registration and participation at the Democratic National Committee. She is a nationally syndicated columnist, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and author of "Cooking With Grease: Stirring the Pot in America." She was manager for the Gore-Lieberman presidential campaign in 2000.

(CNN) -- We are in the middle of a fight to preserve the dignity and grace that makes all of us Americans. We have big hearts and great souls. I know. I have seen them, felt them and watched them in wonder when my family was lost and unreachable in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

I cried, worrying for those I loved, heartbroken by what happened to our beloved Louisiana. And in the middle of that tough moment, the decency of people shone through in e-mails, phone calls and in person. Everybody was saying the same thing: "How can I help?"

This is what we do in times of struggle. We offer our hand and our love to pull someone up who's been knocked down by hard times and despair. It's just a fundamental rule in life and in any fight; you don't kick people when they're down.

But for some reason, this principle has been lost on the 217 members of the House of Representatives who decided to lace up some combat boots with rough, crushing soles to kick and kick again the 48 million Americans who count on food stamps.

I am not going to mince words. When the House voted to cut $40 billion to the food stamp program over the next 10 years, that wasn't an example of government tightening its belt or making tough choices. That vote wasn't a philosophy or an ideology about governing. Pure and simple, it was a heartless act. It was cruel. It was kicking millions of our families, neighbors and friends when they are down. And the people who work for a living in this country are down.

Let's take a walk through the facts of what's happened to them during the Great Recession and this nonrecovery of the economy.

The median family net worth dropped from $126,400 in 2007 to $77,300 in 2010, according to the Federal Reserve. It gets worse. Median family income fell from $49,600 in 2007 to $45,800 in 2010. (These are the latest available figures).

"The Fed (Federal Reserve) found that middle-class families had sustained the largest percentage losses in both wealth and income during the crisis, limiting their ability and willingness to spend," according to The New York Times.

For 30 years, wages have flat-lined or declined for most workers, particularly in the past 10 years, as low-paying jobs replace middle-income paying jobs. In 2009, only half of the country had any assets, and those numbers have gotten worse during the last three years.

And here's the kicker. Today -- based on wage levels -- half of Americans live in poverty or near poverty. The gap between the well-to-do and everybody else is widening alarmingly.