Have we lost our collective mind? Am I a communist because I used the word collective? The recent news outlining a 10 year proposal in the House to cut Food Stamps spending by $40 billion over that period provides a wonderful case study in the absurdity that is American Politics. The democrats are outraged because placing this program on the chopping block signifies a ruthless approach from the opposition to cut any program that funds Obamacare and that a staple of American social programs is negotiable in the first place. The republicans argue that the system is being schemed by lazy, undeserving omnivores looking to skip out on the grocery bill. I am outraged because people need to eat dammit. This is not a political bargaining chip, nor should it be a contentious issue from which Americans find themselves hopelessly divided. Approximately 4 million Americans will now lose their qualifications for food stamps. Luckily, says Speaker of the House Boehner, it will allow us to better manage our growing deficit-a masterfully manipulated scare tactic to justify any cost cutting (fat trimming) agenda item. People need to eat dammit. We can approach this issue from varied perspectives. We could prioritize what other programs or initiatives would be more justifiable pieces of meat of which the house could trim its fat, or we can discuss the implications that stem from this action’s justifications in the political and social sphere. Because our congressional leaders have approached this issue from neither of those two standpoints, we shall do both.
Get out your butcher’s knives and let’s slice up some spending.
DEFENSE SPENDING: The United States spent nearly $700 billion in defense and military spending in 2012. That makes up 39% of all the military spending on a little place called PLANET EARTH. We spent more than four times as much than the number 2 on the list, the People’s Republic of China. When considering per capita figures, the average American (or on his or her behalf) spends 16 times the amount an average Chinese person spends on their government’s defense and military expenditures. The $4 billion a year that the House desires to cut from the Food Stamp program which would affect 4 million Americans is a mere .0057% or around half of a percent of annual defense spending. Hey military industrial complex…can you spare some change? America is hungry.
CAMPAIGN FINANCE and CONTRIBUTIONS: It’s seemingly very important that one must be elected before one can vote to take away American’s food stamps so how does this happen? Well, they raise a truckload of money. So much money that food just seems so microscopic in importance by comparison. The unlimited nature of election contributions and campaign financing leads to corporate and individual elite involvement on a scale that the average voter cannot comprehend. The process, in fact, belies the election process to that voter who doesn’t realize his vote is simply being bought and sold. Furthermore, that money infiltrates decision making and a lot of decisions are made based on the mantra of fat trimming and governmental efficiency. However, no one seems to be able to comprehend that that idea would lose an enormous amount of popularity as a campaign slogan and law making justification if the money that was poured into buying candidates and elections was available for the government to use to potentially…feed and care for its people.
CORPORATE TAX LOOPHOLES: The person working for a multinational corporation “earning” minimum wage is paying their fair share of taxes and still can’t afford to eat (especially not anymore) and qualifies (or used to) for Food Stamps so their bosses are paying their fair share too right? Inexplicably wrong. A report detailing the prevalence and immense scale of corporate tax loopholes estimates that the U.S. will lose over $620 billion from 2010-2015 in potential tax revenue lost due to those moneys being qualified as tax expenditures (which is a bogus term used to describe loophole’d funds). Some popular examples include:
Deferral of Income from Controlled Foreign Corporations where Multinational Corporations hide profits in foreign countries deferring U.S. taxes and paying foreign taxes at preferential rates which will cost an estimated $172.1 billion over that aforementioned five year period,
Accelerated Depreciation of Machinery and Equipment: Corps can claim depreciation on equipment immediately which acts as an interest free loan from the Federal Government for the use of machinery and equipment corporations would be using anyway in order to make profit. This has an estimated 5 year cost of $51.7 billion in lost tax revenue.
Exclusion of Interest on State and Local Bonds: Companies are given tax credit so as not to pay double and state and municipal bonds in which cases they are involved in producing something for public consumption or benefit such as a stadium or a hospital at an estimated tax revenue loss over 5 years of $59.8 billion.
These examples show the rampant corporate impulse to withhold taxable profits from the government through the manipulation of loopholes in the corporate tax code. Closing or lessening the incentive to exploit these loopholes could feed many hard working slaves, I mean employees, of these multinational corporations that might lose their access to food stamps over the next 10 years.
Alright, so clearly there are other funds that have fit waiting to be trimmed that should have been addressed long before the Food Stamps program, but that was not the case and there are implications for this reality. Our political leadership has told us that two things: we cannot afford to pay for our citizens to eat, and that too many undeserving individuals are manipulating the system and ruining it for those who do need the help. The first implication is a moral one being framed in a political way which is outrageous. As I stated earlier, using this issue as a political bargaining tool is inhumane and that is precisely what is occurring here. The republicans have sent a message to the democrats just as they will with all Obamacare related legislation and that message is telling Americans that some of them do not deserve help to eat today. Digest that….
The second implication that needs to be discussed is the idea that there is always a moocher that is ruining the party for everyone else. I hate this antiquated fearmongering tactic because it doesn’t make any sense. If there really is a person who is going through a few LOOPHOLES (sounds familiar) in order to barely qualify for food stamps, would you trade places with him? The cast of the Kardashians is not forging paperwork so they can get free food. It’s just so absurd to believe that nonsense that hungry people who have no money and are trying to avoid homelessness or unemployment and can afford maybe a meal a day don’t deserve assistance. Beyond that asinine sentiment is the illogical nature of the idea that that perceived freeloader is ruining it for those who really need the help. How? We clearly can afford to do more and cut more in order to do so, so if you truly believe that someone is unjustly receiving food stamps assistance how can the appropriate response be to slash spending for the program entirely when you are admitting that there are those who truly need its help. In that case, which is the case in reality, the republicans are just shifting blame to imaginary people who are supposedly exploiting loopholes and drying out the food stamp well when actually, lawmakers are the ones that chose to drain that well in the first place. Making a dry well more shallow is not going to yield more water my friends. So, before we debate who should go hungry and who shouldn’t, why don’t we collectively trim the fat from the true freeloaders (the corporations), the morally malnourished (Congress), and the morbidly obese defense contracting subsidiaries. So next time you hear someone say, but what about the national debt? You say to them, “People have to eat, dammit.”