Romney-Ryan "Family Values:" Steal Food from 236 Hungry Children and Families for Each Millionaire's Tax Cut

You have got to hand it to Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney. They know where their priorities are. The Paul Ryan budget - the one Mitt Romney couldn't be more in love with - will give an average of $394,000 in annual tax cuts to millionaires of America when the extension of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy (also part of the Romney-Ryan plan) is factored in ($129,000 from the Bush tax giveaways and an additional $265,000 from the current GOP budget). It will also cut $133.5 billion over 10 years from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps.

So, let's do some quick math. A $133.5 billion cut in SNAP represents a 17% reduction in the essential program to keep families and children in America from going hungry. 90% of SNAP funds go directly to food assistance for poor children and families (most of the rest goes to states for administering it), and nearly half of it goes to children and families below half of the federal poverty level. In 2013, there are projected to be 47.1 million people eligible for this program. Let's say the 17% reduction in the budget represents a 17% reduction in the number of people getting the benefits. That's over 8 million people in a given year. $133.5 billion also pays for the Romney-Ryan average tax breaks for 33,883 millionaires for 10 years (10-year cumulative average break for every millionaire at $3.94 million).

So. $133.5 billion = tax cuts for 33,883 millionaires = over 8 million people kicked off of food assistance. That works out to 236 people in dire need kicked out of assistance to give the average millionaire in America his (or her) tax break. Aren't you impressed?

Of course, people trying to come back at this will say my assumptions are too simple. They are. I assume, for example, that the number of people who would be eligible for SNAP absent Ryan's radical social Darwinism remain constant over the years. But that's probably more than a safe assumption - actually, it might even be a conservative assumption, given that population is going to increase over the next decade, and if the number needing food assistance remain the same, the proportion of the population needing it is actually declining.

I also make the assumption that states would simply drop an equivalent percent of the population from food assistance rolls rather than (a) reducing benefits and spread the pain across many recipients rather than cutting about a fifth of them outright off the rolls, or (b) make up the difference themselves from state budgets. Spreading the pain will only affect more people, and while less will go completely without assistance, more will have to do with inadequate help. So if you want to say that each millionaire's tax break costs 500 people to go more hungry rather than 236 people cut completely off, have at it. And states making up the difference? Don't make me laugh.

This is the Republican agenda in 2012. As President Obama called it, it is thinly veiled social Darwinism. It's not about he survival of the fittest, but the fattening of the richest. It's about using the government to radically redistribute wealth from the poor and the hungry to the very top; 236 hungry children and families and one millionaire at a time. It's about the destruction of the notion of a people with a common purpose. It's about ending our social compacts to take care of the elderly and the poor, to lift people up and give them opportunities so that they too can take part in the American dream. It's about you're-on-your-own economics. Actually, check that. Under Romney and Ryan you are on your own, unless you're a millionaire or billionaire. Then you are freed from the responsibility to contribute to the common good, and the rest of us are forced to subsidize your tax breaks at the cost of safety net programs that not only help the people directly benefiting but maintain an opportunity economy.

There is a clear contrast between this vision, offered by Mitt Romney and his party, and the vision of our country offered by President Obama and the Democratic party. President Obama's vision - and his record - is to build a country that is more just, in which the common good matters, and where we do not let hundreds of American children go hungry just to hand out a fat tax break to the average millionaire. President Obama's budget would fully fund and restore previous cuts to SNAP, and strengthen children's nutrition programs even more. As opposed to a GOP agenda that cares more about serving the elite, the President cares more about children showing up to school without going hungry and ready to learn. The difference is between a vision of America in which every deserves a shot, an America where a kid raised in poverty by a single parent can go toe-to-toe on the merits with the child of the most aristocratic family in America, and a starkly darker vision in which the government proactively pulls the ladder to upward mobility out from impoverished families.

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