Just when we start to think Republicans can’t possibly get any meaner, they do something else to take our breath away. Kathleen Gray from the Detroit Free Press reports that Michigan’s Republican-led House Appropriations subcommittee passed a budget that would require drastic cuts for an already eviscerated Department of Human Services. The proposed budget would have cut 1,000 DHS jobs, made 211,496 people ineligible for food assistance, cut $546,000 in disability assistance, and snatched $15 million from the foster care program — meaning 550 children would be forced to return to dangerous family situations.
The House’s Democratic minority protested on humanitarian grounds, of course: Denying food to over two hundred thousand hungry people in a state that was hit hard by the recession and still has an 8.9% rate of unemployment seems pointlessly cruel. But slashing children’s programs could also prove penny-wise and pound-foolish. The state already landed in hot water in 2006, when Children’s Rights, a child welfare advocacy group, filed a class-action federal lawsuit accusing the State of Michigan of endangering 19,000 abused and neglected children. The judge’s 2008 decision for Dwayne B. v. Granholm required a massive overhaul of the child protection system, including hiring more staff.
Ray Holman, a state employees union representative scorned the proposed cuts as “dangerous and reckless,” adding:
Things were just getting stabilized in the child welfare system. But this budget is regressive and puts us in a place where children are going to be at risk.
Representative Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) protested, “We can not afford to have any more children under our care killed, abused or neglected.” Tlaib’s district was the home of Tameria Greene, an eight-year-old girl who was tragically stabbed to death by her mother in December, before social workers were able to move the child to a safer home.
A disgusted writer for Eclectablog also rages:
As outraged as I’ve been over GOP overreach over the past two years, this move shows that Michigan Republicans are no longer pretending that they care about children, the poor, or any of the other groups that most need our collective help in this state.
Fortunately, Michigan’s more level-headed Senate unanimously passed the far more reasonable budget advocated by Governor Rick Snyder — also a Republican. Although Snyder’s budget provides 269 fewer caseworkers than requested, it’ll leave current programs mostly intact.
It was bad enough when Republicans kept going after the poor — particularly single mothers — by promoting the myth of lazy welfare queens cheating the system. Now, they’re going after the working and middle classes too. When we think of hungry people on government assistance, people who’ve hit rock bottom come to mind. But nowadays, many jobs pay so poorly that 40% of households receiving Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP — formerly called Food Stamps) had earnings. In addition, 48% of SNAP recipients are children who are too young to work, 8% of recipients are age 60 or older, and 25% of SNAP households include a senior or disabled person.
Kathleen McDade — a middle class, Portland, OR-based mommy blogger with a house, husband and three daughters — shares her harrowing food insecurity story on her blog, and in a video for Cooking Up a Story, titled the “Growing Face of Modern Hunger In Modern America.” The vivacious, outspoken brunette explains — as she attends to her adorable, giggling little girls — that she works for the local school district, and food stamps helped her family avoid hunger while her husband was unemployed. When he landed a part-time job as a school bus driver, they thought their financial situation would improve, but now they’re squeezed by childcare and other expenses. Unfortunately, Dad’s take-home pay barely makes a difference, and the family no longer qualify for food stamps. In desperation, she turns to a local food pantry, but that doesn’t work out terribly well. We don’t expect to see food insecurity in the sort of wholesome, middle class family my grammie would have referred to as “lovely people,” but here it is. After seeing this video, you’ll agree that we need to expand food programs instead of cutting them.
Here’s the video:
|Elisabeth Parker is a writer, Web designer, mom, political junkie, and dilettante. Come visit her at ElisabethParker.Com, “like” her on facebook, “friend” her on facebook, follow her on Twitter, or check out her Pinterest boards. For more Addicting Info articles by Elisabeth, click here.|