John Boehner, speaker of the U.S. House Representatives, is spitting mad. This time, he says, his opponents nationwide have gone too far. To hear him tell it, it’s as if they’ve violated the sanctity of federal law.
“States have found ways to cheat, once again, on signing people up for food stamps,” Boehner said in a press conference on March 13. “And so I would hope the House would try to stop this cheating and this fraud from continuing.”
Wait a minute, food stamps?
Of course, Boehner is so fundamentally tone-deaf as to describe a helping hand to the poor as “fraud,” but as things stand, he can’t do a thing about it.
As part of the legislation that is commonly called the farm bill, Congress decided this year to cut food stamps by $85 billion nationwide.
The law mandates that a poor family of four will lose about $36 per month in food aid. However, families that receive at least $20 per month in aid for heating from their state are not affected.
This loophole is already being widely exploited, as states left and right are electing to just raise their heating aid payouts to at least $20 for all families. Most of them don’t even have to pay for it, as money for heating aid comes from federal block grants.
As of now, Connecticut, Montana, Massachusetts, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, New York and Vermont have enacted some way to use the loophole. Officials in California, Washington, Maine, Michigan, New Jersey and Wisconsin are reviewing their options to join the pack.
If Kansas, meaning Gov. Sam Brownback, finds the willpower to defy the outrage of national Republican leadership, a lot of people are going to benefit.
Southeast Kansas remains one of the state’s poorest regions, and the need for aid to our poor was highlighted when state budget cuts have caused the imminent closure of Pittsburg’s only public homeless shelter.
Gov. Brownback, it’s time to show a little bit of courage and help your people, the people who you want to vote you in to a second term this year.
Your administration talks a big game about doing what’s best of Kansas, regardless of what the federal government says. Put some meaning into that. Show your residents that you’re worthy of your office and join your bipartisan peers nationwide in putting the welfare of Kansas first.