Now that the budget super committee has failed, the Budget Control Act now calls for $1.5 trillion in budget cuts over the next 10 years.
At the same time, 46.2 million Americans are unemployed; 17.1 million are underemployed. 1 in 5 American children live in poverty. The poorest counties in the U.S. are rural. 14.5% of households struggle with food insecurity and 15 percent (45.8 million) receive food stamp assistance. Food stamp rolls have risen 8.1% in the past year alone. 1.6 million people are homeless, including nearly 135,000 veterans. The income gap between the top 1 percent and the bottom 99 percent, from 1979 to 2007, increased 275 percent.
Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security will be exempt from budget cuts. WIC, SNAP and other programs that help the poor will not be exempt. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) and The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) are a lifeline to millions of struggling & impoverished Americans. Developmental Assistance may be exempt. DA holds up the needs of poor people around the world: agriculture, malaria, etc. and amounts to 6/10 of one percent of the budget.
At the same time, there will be tremendous pressure to keep certain special interests exempt from budget cuts. There will be a significant campaign this next year to keep the military exempt. If this happens, all the other programs will bear the brunt of the budget balancing process. Every group that gets exempt from this point on, will hurt those living in poverty. More children will go hungry.
There are a lot of expensive, well-paid lobbyists that are tirelessly pressuring legislators on behalf of special interest groups. There are no expensive, well-paid lobbyists advocating for the poor. Who will speak for the poor, the widow and orphan? Who, in our society, will do what the Hebrew prophets did with the kings: demand justice for the poor?
If not us, then who?