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Hullabaloo


Sunday, June 24, 2018

 

You can't eat this red meat

by Tom Sullivan


SNAP benefits lag behind need, even as the GOP mulls different ways to cut back on food aid (CityLab, 2/23/18)

Schoolyard taunts won't feed your family. Nor will they heal you when you fall ill. Nor ripping infants and toddlers from vulnerable parents. It might draw international opprobrium. But you can't pay your bills with that or eat it either. (I'll spare you the Jonathan Swift references this morning.)

But the behaviors modeled by the White House and congressional majority raise the question: Just what is the president and the party of Trump selling? Fear in greater potency? Cruelty in higher doses? Because their version of American greatness looks a lot like a United States marginalized on the world stage, a world power in decline. Maybe even regressing to a time in history when it wasn't one.

Granted, America's rivals in the world that would welcome that. Some of them are the president's friends. Some are his financiers and creditors too, as investigations may yet prove (since his unreleased tax returns did not).

So after all the boasting, lies, and taunts, after all the incompetence and corruption, what exactly is the party of Trump delivering for Americans?

Well, a return to a health system in which a preexisting condition can be a death sentence. So there's that.

An exacerbated level of inequality and poverty in which "contrasts between private wealth and public squalor abound." But since that might actually have been a byproduct and not their aim, it's not clear whether that counts as a failure or accomplishment.

Two Harvard scientists predict rollbacks to environmental regulations under the Trump administration could result in 80,000 extra deaths per decade. More toxic air and drinking water. Higher exposure to toxic chemicals. That's probably a plus for someone with a Capitol Hill lobbyist, but not likely for you or your kids.

With help from the Freedom Caucus, Republicans in the House advanced the 2018 farm bill without a single Democratic vote and with 20 Republicans dissenting. The bill passed Thursday includes $20 billion in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP:

“It’s shocking that the House would pass this kind of harsh farm bill that betrays the long-standing bipartisan commitment to making sure that people who are struggling have enough to eat,” said Stephen Knight, director of policy and partnerships at the Alameda County Community Food Bank, which estimates that 110,000 Alameda County residents are enrolled in CalFresh, the state’s version of SNAP, 60 percent of them children. “With wages falling and inequality growing in our country, protecting and strengthening SNAP is essential.”
Just not to the party of Trump. Not picking winners and losers doesn't count when it comes to hunger. The party wants stricter work requirements for the poor even as it eases up on the rich.

A proposal to remove regulation of food safety (for everythying except meat and fish) from the HHS to the USDA:
Right now, the USDA and HHS split the task of regulating food safety. One big difference is that while HHS only has to regulate food safety, the USDA is required by the government to both promote agriculture and regulate it. In the past, this has created an awkward relationship in which powerful meat interest groups have held political sway within the department.
So, placing public food safety under the agency also charged with promoting the financial interests of producers. A very Trump move, to be sure.

Could be it's not just metaphorical red meat you cannot eat.

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For The Win 2018 is ready for download. Request a copy of my county-level election mechanics primer at tom.bluecentury at gmail.