FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Bombing Food Stamps; Feeding Bombs

by JOHN LaFORGE

Beginning Nov. 1, food stamp cutbacks mean $36 per month less for a family of four.

Public ‘servants’ like Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan and Democratic former President Bill Clinton point to the failure of poverty programs to end poverty, and then slash those program budgets or abolish them altogether. Clinton’s actions did away with Aid to Families with Dependent Children in a fell swoop he dubbed “welfare reform.”

Meanwhile, the chronic test failure of anti-missile rockets never results in budget cuts, but is called reason enough for more funding. The latest miss by the “missile defense” project occurred July 5 over the Pacific, adding to a near perfect record of total flops or faked hits. The rocket business is one welfare program that is never declared fraudulent or wasteful except by scientists, honest think tanks and military watchdog groups.

Today a lot of Republicans claim the food stamp program — officially the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP — is rife with fraud. They say “Ineligible people get food stamps!” So Congress dogs the poor who may not vote and don’t donate to campaigns, while doling out $billions to missile contractors Lockheed, Martin, Boeing, TRW and Raytheon, etc. in exchange for $millions in re-election cash.

So the House adopted a farm bill in July that for the first time since 1973 eliminates food stamps A Senate bill approved in May cut about $4.5 billion from the program, mainly by altering eligibility rules.

The percentage of our population that uses food stamps went up from 8.7 in 2007 to 15.2 in 2012. This near doubling is partly the result of the Great Recession, high unemployment, and the fact that Republicans have made deep cuts in unemployment benefits.

The House action will eliminate about 5.1 million people from SNAP, according to a report by the Health Impact Project. Almost half a million people who get food stamps but still do not get enough to eat (the average SNAP amount is $134 a month) would lose their eligibility for the stamps. The HIP study found that food stamps cuts will not just affect the ability of low-income people to feed themselves, but would also increase poverty.

Failed and redundant weapons getting $billions

Independent analysts like MIT Prof. of Science, Technology and International Security Theodore Postol argue that “ballistic missile defense” can’t work — interceptor missiles can never distinguish real incoming weapons from swarms of decoys — and should be cancelled. Postol charged in a March 2000 letter to Pres. Clinton  that the program’s officers were “most likely attempting to illegally use the security and classification system to hide waste, fraud and abuse,” that included faked test results. British PM Margaret Thatcher told Ronald Reagan 30 years ago, “I am a chemist. I know it won’t work.”

Still, spending for BMD over three decades totals about $200 billion — $130 billion by 2000, according to the Center for Strategic & Budget Assessments — and about $10 billion every year since then. Last March, President Obama announced another $1 billion in funding to add 14 new “interceptor” missile pads to the 26 already deployed in Fort Greely, Alaska.

Let them eat fighter jets

Even more insulting are the weapons programs unwanted by the Pentagon that get funded again and again. Military brass have said that the new Joint-Strike fighter jet bomber (or F-35) and additional upgrades to the M1 Abrams tank are unnecessary. The 6,000 completed M1 upgrades are enough, says DoD. Baltimore Sun blogger Terry Munson reported Aug. 17 that zeroing the Abrams rehab program would save $3.5 billion.

Pentagon chiefs have called a lot of costly systems unneeded and unaffordable.

Josh Sweigart in the Dayton Daily News reported last year that the military had proposed cost cutting that would save at least $487 billion over 10 years. The Pentagon suggested canceling: 1) the Global Hawk drone — whose purpose is served by the U2 — saving $2.5 billion by 2017; 2) the C-27J Spartan transport aircraft, saving $400 million by 2017; 3) 5,000 jobs from the Air National Guard — and slashing $300 million from its budget; and 4) plans for an East Coast missile defense battery that Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had called unnecessary — saving $3.6 billion by 2017.

The same Congressional budget cutters who call for “small” government have insured that useless military boondoggles in their districts stay big—even while providing fewer jobs per $billion spent than any other sector of expenditure. As Munson said, “If we used some of that money to feed hungry children and educate those who need it most … Congressional reps might be compelled to find support among real voters and not just corporations seeking government handouts.”

John LaForge is co-director of Nukewatch—a nuclear watchdog and environmental justice group in Wisconsin—and edits their quarterly newsletter. 

 

John LaForge is a Co-director of Nukewatch, a peace and environmental justice group in Wisconsin, and edits its newsletter.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

March 27, 2017
Robert Hunziker
A Record-Setting Climate Going Bonkers
Frank Stricker
Why $15 an Hour Should be the Absolute Minimum Minimum Wage
Melvin Goodman
The Disappearance of Bipartisanship on the Intelligence Committees
Patrick Cockburn
ISIS’s Losses in Syria and Iraq Will Make It Difficult to Recruit
Russell Mokhiber
Single-Payer Bernie Morphs Into Public Option Dean
Gregory Barrett
Can Democracy Save Us?
Dave Lindorff
Budget Goes Military
John Heid
Disappeared on the Border: “Chase and Scatter” — to Death
Mark Weisbrot
The Troubling Financial Activities of an Ecuadorian Presidential Candidate
Robert Fisk
As ISIS’s Caliphate Shrinks, Syrian Anger Grows
Michael J. Sainato
Democratic Party Continues Shunning Popular Sanders Surrogates
Paul Bentley
Nazi Heritage: the Strange Saga of Chrystia Freeland’s Ukrainian Grandfather
Christopher Ketcham
Buddhism in the Storm
Thomas Barker
Platitudes in the Wake of London’s Terror Attack
Mike Hastie
Insane Truths: a Vietnam Vet on “Apocalypse Now, Redux”
Binoy Kampmark
Cyclone Watch in Australia
Weekend Edition
March 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump is Obama’s Legacy: Will this Break up the Democratic Party?
Eric Draitser
Donald Trump and the Triumph of White Identity Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nothing Was Delivered
Andrew Levine
Ryan’s Choice
Joshua Frank
Global Coal in Freefall, Tar Sands Development Drying Up (Bad News for Keystone XL)
Anthony DiMaggio
Ditching the “Deep State”: The Rise of a New Conspiracy Theory in American Politics
Rob Urie
Boris and Natasha Visit Fantasy Island
John Wight
London and the Dreary Ritual of Terrorist Attacks
Paul Buhle
The CIA and the Intellectuals…Again
David Rosen
Why Did Trump Target Transgender Youth?
Vijay Prashad
Inventing Enemies
Ben Debney
Outrage From the Imperial Playbook
M. Shadee Malaklou
An Open Letter to Duke University’s Class of 2007, About Your Open Letter to Stephen Miller
Michael J. Sainato
Bernie Sanders’ Economic Advisor Shreds Trumponomics
Lawrence Davidson
Moral Failure at the UN
Pete Dolack
World Bank Declares Itself Above the Law
Nicola Perugini - Neve Gordon
Israel’s Human Rights Spies
Patrick Cockburn
From Paris to London: Another City, Another Attack
Ralph Nader
Reason and Justice Address Realities
Ramzy Baroud
‘Decolonizing the Mind’: Using Hollywood Celebrities to Validate Islam
Colin Todhunter
Monsanto in India: The Sacred and the Profane
Louisa Willcox
Grizzlies Under the Endangered Species Act: How Have They Fared?
Norman Pollack
Militarization of American Fascism: Trump the Usurper
Pepe Escobar
North Korea: The Real Serious Options on the Table
Brian Cloughley
“These Things Are Done”: Eavesdropping on Trump
Sheldon Richman
You Can’t Blame Trump’s Military Budget on NATO
Carol Wolman
Trump vs the People: a Psychiatrist’s Analysis
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Marines to Kill Desert Tortoises
Stanley L. Cohen
The White House . . . Denial and Cover-ups
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail