Pay for food, not bombs

We should focus on helping poor families eat, not bulking up defense.

Editorial board

The GOP in the House of Representatives made moves last week that are clearly in support of the American elite at the expense of millions of the poorest among us. Upon hearing news that the F-35 stealth bomber procurement program’s costs had increased by billions of dollars, these legislators are deciding they would rather cut $33 billion from the nation’s Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program — SNAP, aka “food stamps” — than limit defense spending. In the wake of a terrible economic crisis, we cannot support the move to place the most vulnerable among us in more hardship to increase our defense budget.

The House GOP is standing stalwart behind the Defense Department that 2,233 F-35s are not enough, that having 2,443 F-35s is more important than poor familities being able to feed themselves. Republicans argue that only the “truly” deserving of the 46 million Americans currently utilizing the program, up from 33 million in 2009, will remain after the cuts — those with a bit of money in the bank will be forecd to spend it before receiving assistance. Will this not simply require those on long-term unemployment to finally spend the last of their rainy day savings and leave them worse off?

To replace the F-22 Raptors in certain parts of the world with Lockheed’s newest F-35 bomber at the expense of poor Americans’ dinners is repulsive. Children do not deserve to worry about hunger, and we must not allow our lawmakers to sacrifice them on the altar of defense. Those stances do not represent us and do not better us as citizens or a nation.

As Wisconsin Rep. Marcia Fudge told a panel, “We’d rather pay farmers millions of dollars not to grow crops than to feed children.” We’d also rather, it seems, increase our ability to wage war.