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.

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
September 01, 2015
Mike Whitney
Return to Crisis: Things Keep Getting Worse
Michael Schwalbe
The Moral Hazards of Capitalism
Eric Mann
Inside the Civil Rights Movement: a Conversation With Julian Bond
Pam Martens
How Wall Street Parasites Have Devoured Their Hosts, Your Retirement Plan and the U.S. Economy
Jonathan Latham
Growing Doubt: a Scientist’s Experience of GMOs
Fran Shor
Occupy Wall Street and the Sanders Campaign: a Case of Historical Amnesia?
Joe Paff
The Big Trees: Cockburn, Marx and Shostakovich
Randy Blazak
University Administrators Allow Fraternities to Turn Colleges Into Rape Factories
Robert Hunziker
The IPCC Caught in a Pressure Cooker
George Wuerthner
Myths of the Anthropocene Boosters: Truthout’s Misguided Attack on Wilderness and National Park Ideals
Robert Koehler
Sending Your Children Off to Safe Spaces in College
Jesse Jackson
Season of the Insurgents: From Trump to Sanders
August 31, 2015
Michael Hudson
Whitewashing the IMF’s Destructive Role in Greece
Conn Hallinan
Europe’s New Barbarians
Lawrence Ware
George Bush (Still) Doesn’t Care About Black People
Joseph Natoli
Plutocracy, Gentrification and Racial Violence
Franklin Spinney
One Presidential Debate You Won’t Hear: Why It is Time to Adopt a Sensible Grand Strategy
Dave Lindorff
What’s Wrong with Police in America
Louis Proyect
Jacobin and “The War on Syria”
Lawrence Wittner
Militarism Run Amok: How Russians and Americans are Preparing Their Children for War
Binoy Kampmark
Tales of Darkness: Europe’s Refugee Woes
Ralph Nader
Lo, the Poor Enlightened Billionaire!
Peter Koenig
Greece: a New Beginning? A New Hope?
Dean Baker
America Needs an “Idiot-Proof” Retirement System
Vijay Prashad
Why the Iran Deal is Essential
Tom Clifford
The Marco Polo Bridge Incident: a History That Continues to Resonate
Peter Belmont
The Salaita Affair: a Scandal That Never Should Have Happened
Weekend Edition
August 28-30, 2015
Randy Blazak
Donald Trump is the New Face of White Supremacy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Long Time Coming, Long Time Gone
Mike Whitney
Looting Made Easy: the $2 Trillion Buyback Binge
Alan Nasser
The Myth of the Middle Class: Have Most Americans Always Been Poor?
Rob Urie
Wall Street and the Cycle of Crises
Andrew Levine
Viva Trump?
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Behind the Congressional Disagreements Over the Iran Nuclear Deal
Lawrence Ware – Marcus T. McCullough
I Won’t Say Amen: Three Black Christian Clichés That Must Go
Evan Jones
Zionism in Britain: a Neglected Chronicle
John Wight
Learning About the Migration Crisis From Ancient Rome
Andre Vltchek
Lebanon – What if it Fell?
Charles Pierson
How the US and the WTO Crushed India’s Subsidies for Solar Energy
Robert Fantina
Hillary Clinton, Palestine and the Long View
Ben Burgis
Gore Vidal Was Right: What Best of Enemies Leaves Out
Suzanne Gordon
How Vets May Suffer From McCain’s Latest Captivity
Robert Sandels - Nelson P. Valdés
The Cuban Adjustment Act: the Other Immigration Mess
Uri Avnery
The Molten Three: Israel’s Aborted Strike on Iran
John Stanton
Israel’s JINSA Earns Return on Investment: 190 Americans Admirals and Generals Oppose Iran Deal