Congressman Jim McGovern

Representing the 2nd District of Massachussetts
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McGovern: Don't Balance the Budget on the Backs of Poor & Working Families

Mar 24, 2015
Press Release

 

March 24, 2015

I thank the gentlelady for the time.

M. Speaker, the last 8 years have been very difficult. We are recovering from the single greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression. This recovery hasn’t been easy and it’s forced us to make difficult decisions. Working on our budget priorities and wrestling with spending cuts have been difficult to say the least.

But our economy is turning around, thanks in large part to an increase in hiring and the success of the Affordable Care Act.

Yet we still must wrestle with the nation’s budget.

Why is it that every time House Republicans try to put our fiscal house in order, they ask those among us who can least afford it to make the most sacrifices?

M. Speaker, we shouldn’t balance the budget on the backs of poor and working families. They didn’t cause the financial crisis and they shouldn’t be the ones forced to get us out of this mess.

There’s a lot to dislike in the Republican budget. From repealing the Affordable Care Act to ending Medicare as we know it to slashing Pell grants. Quite frankly, it’s awful.

But I want to focus on what the Republican budget does to SNAP, the nation’s premier anti-hunger program.

Once again, the Republican budget would turn SNAP into a block grant, resulting in sharp cuts of $125 billion. On top of that, the Republican budget requires another cut of at least $1 billion – maybe more – from SNAP.

M. Speaker, SNAP is one of the only remaining basic protections for the poor.  For many of the poorest Americans, SNAP is the only form of income assistance they receive. The numbers don’t lie, but the stories are far more powerful. Just listen to people who rely on SNAP to make ends meet:

Thousands of people sent messages to Congress written on paper plates, pleading with us not to cut SNAP. One woman wrote:

“SNAP means that as a single mother, I was able to finish college, feed my family, and find a career.”

For the life of me I can’t figure out why House Republicans are hell-bent on arbitrarily cutting a program that feeds hungry kids, seniors and working families.

These SNAP cuts are deep and hurtful. We’ve already seen how the Farm Bill cuts of $8.6 billion are wreaking havoc among the hungry – imagine what a cut of $125 billion or more would do.

Republicans claim that SNAP spending is out of control, yet the Congressional Budget Office shows that SNAP spending is going down as the economy recovers and people go back to work.

Last night in the Rules Committee I offered an amendment to strike these SNAP cuts from the Republican budget.  The Republicans blocked my amendment while at the same time increasing spending for the Pentagon by over $90 billion without paying for it.

M. Speaker, budgets are moral documents and what the Republicans are doing is immoral. Penalizing working families – and yes, the majority of people on SNAP who can work do work – by taking away food in the guise of fiscal prudence is just wrong. Cutting SNAP while increasing unchecked spending for the Pentagon is hypocritical.

I yield back the balance of my time.