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Who thinks we should feed hungry Americans?

REMINDER: The 21st Annual “Stamp Out Hunger” food drive is today, Saturday, May 11th. Please leave non-perishable food items by your mailbox and your postal carrier will deliver them to the local food pantry or food bank.

So this is where we are, these days, in this great country of ours:

DSC_9969Almost 15% of Americans were “food insecure” last year. That means one in seven families went hungry sometimes, because they didn’t have enough money to buy food.

Last month, Congress carved out exemptions to the “across-the-board” federal budget cuts known as The Sequester. What did they exempt? Defense spending, of course – and also the FAA, because furloughing air traffic controllers caused (gasp!) travel delays. But Congress kept the cuts to food pantries, Meals on Wheels, and other supplemental nutrition programs.

This month, Congress is debating the Farm Bill. Guess what they’ve already agreed on? The Food Stamp program is going to get cut. It’s only a question of how much. Senate Democrats plan to cut the program by (only?) $400 million. House Republicans want to cut it by about $2 Billion.

Sooo… Congress thinks feeding hungry Americans is a budget problem?! Gosh. Wonder where else in the budget that money could come from. Golly, the Joint Committee on Taxation has some ideas.

  • Maybe corporate tax policies? Who knew that corporations pay reduced rates on their first $10 million of income? The Joint Committee estimates that one policy will cost the federal government $3.7 Billion in revenue next year. Maybe that could pay for Food Stamps?
  • Or how about the way Congress taxes investment income? Current tax law treats investment income as if it’s waaaaaaaaay better than the wage income earned by working people. That policy is going to cost the federal government $91.3 Billion next year. And that could probably pay for a lot of Food Stamps.
  • How about all those corporate stock options that CEOs receive as “performance incentives”? Special tax treatment of those options will cost the federal government $300 million next year – not quite as much as the Senate wants to cut from Food Stamps, but hey, that money would still feed a few families, if it wasn’t subsidizing CEOs.

Budgets are all about priorities. Want to know what Congress’ priorities are? Just look at the Farm Bill and Sequestration and the Federal Budget.

2013_Stamp_Out_HungerAnd then there are the rest of us. Today is the annual “Stamp Out Hunger” food drive. Please put a bag of food out by your mailbox – your postal carrier will collect it and make sure it gets to a local food pantry or food bank.

Maybe if we collect enough food tomorrow – maybe if we could slow down the Postal Service the way FAA furloughs slowed down air travel – maybe Congress might actually notice that we care about hunger in America.

BTW, congratulations to the students at the Abbett Elementary School in Fort Wayne, Indiana. This past week, they collected more than a ton of food for the “Stamp Out Hunger” drive.

They have their priorities straight.

I hope they all run for Congress when they grow up.

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About Liz Iacobucci

Liz Iacobucci is the former Public Information Officer for the State Employees’ Association of New Hampshire, SEIU Local 1984. Over the past three decades, she has served in government at the federal, state and municipal levels; and she has worked for both Democratic and Republican politicians.
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