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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 12/25/19

Trump's holiday menu: handouts for billionaires, hunger for the poor

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From The Guardian

By and Rashida Tlaib

Republicans defend cuts to food stamps by saying that keeping people hungry will make them work harder. But we know this is just about cruelty

Rep. Tlaib endorses Sen. Sanders for president
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When it comes to billionaires benefiting from the generosity of the American taxpayer, the holiday spirit is alive year-round. Taxpayers paid out $115m to Donald Trump so he could play golf at his own resorts.

And Amazon didn't just pay zero in federal taxes on $11bn in profits taxpayers gifted the corporation $129,000,000 in rebates. That's enough to pay for CEO Jeff Bezos's three apartments in Manhattan, including a penthouse, that cost him $80m.

And what about government generosity for those who actually need help? Tax dollars are somehow much harder to come by when they're not going to handouts for the rich. The average person in poverty, struggling to put food on the table, gets about $134 a month in nutrition assistance.

Now, just in time for the holidays, Trump has finalized the first of three policies that will make this disparity even more obscene. Two years after passing a $1.5tn tax giveaway to the wealthiest Americans and large corporations, the Trumpadministration plans to strip 3.7 million people of their nutrition benefits.

The administration's first step is to kick 700,000 adults off of nutrition assistance as they struggle to find work. The second step: trying to punish families who have high childcare and housing costs. And third, they want to hurt families who already are making difficult choices between food or heat.

Together, the three proposals will cut billions of dollars from one of our nation's leading anti-poverty programs. Meanwhile, the Republican tax scam is working exactly as planned. Today, the richest 400 billionaires pay lower taxes than any group in America including the poor. Nearly 100 of the top Fortune 500 companies now pay nothing in taxes.

This is what oligarchy looks like: Trump's appetite to shower the ultra-wealthy with corporate welfare is endless and so is his administration's willingness to assault our nation's most vulnerable and hungriest families.

Republicans defend this by saying that keeping people hungry will make them work harder. But we know this is just about cruelty. We know that withholding food from needy people who are underemployed only deepens the crisis of poverty in America.

Some states will be hit harder than others. Vermont could see a 30% cut to benefits, and one in five low-income people who rely on nutrition assistance could no longer be eligible to participate. In Michigan, about one in seven would be kicked off food aid, with an estimated 15% cut in benefits. This is absolutely devastating.

It goes without saying that we must fight as hard as we can against the Trump administration's savage attack on nutrition assistance. But we need to go beyond that. We must demand that the ultra-wealthy finally start paying their fair share so we can dramatically expand nutrition support. In the richest country in the history of the world, we have a moral obligation to eradicate the hunger that more than 37 million of our fellow Americans suffer every day.

We can start by increasing nutrition assistance by $47 per person per month -- that is the shortfall between what low-income people need to prepare adequate meals and what they get in benefits. We should also significantly increase the income threshold for this program, so everyone who needs help gets it. We must also guarantee that all schoolchildren get free breakfast and lunch at every public school in America.

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Bernie Sanders is the independent U.S. Senator from Vermont. He is the longest serving independent member of Congress in American history. He is a member of the Senate's Budget, Veterans, Environment, Energy, and H.E.L.P. (Health, Education, (more...)

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