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GOP Pushes to Axe Food Stamps Amid Reports of Devastating Poverty

House Republicans call for cuts as studies show that five years since financial collapse, poverty and hunger remain high

- Sarah Lazare, staff writer

(Photo: Flickr Creative Commons / forwardstl)Amid a flurry of reports that five years after the financial collapse US poverty rates and wealth inequalities remain dismal, the GOP is pushing to cut $40 billion from food aid programs that help society's most vulnerable.

House Republicans, led by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, are proposing a 5.2 percent reduction in the budget for the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program that provides food stamps and other vital aid. They are also calling for more stringent eligibility requirements that would cut off an estimated 10 percent of recipients from benefits.

Debate over the future of food stamps has come to dominate the looming vote over the new farm bill, where severe cuts are being proposed by the House GOP. While proposed cuts have narrow chances of passing, they are likely to influence the debate on food aid programs and could lead to House-Senate negotiations on the farm bill, Reuters reports.

Republican leaders appear unswayed in their efforts to axe food aid programs despite new alarming reports that five years after financial collapse, poverty is stuck at high levels.

As Common Dreams reported Tuesday, a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau shows no significant improvements in poverty rates. In 2012, a staggering 46.5 million people lived in, or near, poverty, and 48 million had no health care coverage. This poverty is born unequally across genders: 2012 saw a higher poverty rate for adult women than adult men.

A recent study by University of California researchers shows that 95 percent of all income gains have gone to the top one percent since the so-called "recovery" began in 2009.

Meanwhile, a new report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture reveals that food insecurity in the United States remains at record levels for the 5th year in a row, with 17.6 million households having difficulty feeding their families and 7 million households suffering from "very low food security" that forced them to go hungry in 2012.

Critics charge that given devastating poverty rates, now is the time to bolster—not cut—vital aid. Legal Momentum President Elizabeth Grayer declares, "The data indicate a high poverty rate and a continuing gender poverty gap in the United States — facts that underscore the need for a social safety net that is accessible and adequate."

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