On Thursday, a Democratic representative relied on an unusual set of props to make her case against the proposed $40 billion cuts to the nation’s food stamp program. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) used a bottle of vodka, a steak, and a jar of caviar to argue that the Republican rhetoric is hypocritical and irresponsible. She also pointed out that many of the bill’s proponents had a large number of food stamp recipients in their own district.
“In my district, California 14, we have about 4,000 families who are on food stamps, but some of my colleagues have thousands and thousands more,”Speier said. “Yet, they somehow feel like crusaders, like heroes when they vote to cut food stamps. Some of these same members travel to foreign countries under the guise of official business. They dine at lavish restaurants, eating steak, vodka and even caviar.
“They receive money to do this,” she added. That’s right, they don’t pay out of pocket for these meals.”
Despite a veto threat from the Obama administration, a Republican majority recently approved a polarizing bill that would cut billions from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). According to Republican leaders, the sweeping reforms will close loopholes, fend off freeloaders and promote employment by dramatically reducing federal benefits over the next ten years. Democrats, on the other hand, are calling the Tea Party-backed effort a “monumental waste of time.”
In response to the purported “food stamp binges,” Speier began listing examples of government officials whose food and lodging dwarfed that of SNAP abusers. One member of Congress, she said, was given tax funded “food stamps” worth $127.41 per day during a trip to Argentina.
“Another 20 members made a trip to Dublin, Ireland. They got $166 a day for food. These members didn’t pay a dime,” she continued. “They received almost $200 for a single meal only for themselves. Yet, for them the idea of helping fellow Americans spend less than $5 a day makes their skin crawl.”
Nearly 48 million Americans currently receive nutrition aid through SNAP. Last year, the aggregate cost was $78 billion. About 85 percent of recipients are children, elderly, or disabled, Reuters reported.