A PROGRESSIVE VOICE FROM THE LLANO ESTACADO

Friday, September 21, 2012

Hunger In Texas' GOP "Economic Miracle"

Back during the Great Depression the hunger of hurting Americans was obvious as unemployed people stood in long soup lines to get something to eat. This very public display of hunger spurred the government to act on behalf of hurting Americans and institute policies to put people back to work and protect the elderly. The hunger brought on by the millions of jobs lost in the Great Republican Recession is not quite so obvious. Instead of soup lines, we now have Food Stamps and food banks -- and because of this, most hunger is now hidden from public view behind closed doors. This makes it possible for many of the fortunate in this country (like Willard Romney) to ignore the hunger and desperation of poor Americans (both employed and unemployed).

And many of those desperate, hurting, and hungry people live in the state of Texas. The Republicans have labeled Texas as an "economic miracle" and held it up as an example of what Republican leadership can do. Don't believe that. For instance, take the hunger situation in the state. That is certainly nothing to be proud of. Consider the following:

* About 18.5% of all Texas households (nearly 1 out of every 5) faces "food Insecurity" (the inability to consistently afford enough food).

* Texas has the third highest rate of food insecurity (hunger) in the nation.

* Food insecurity (hunger) in Texas affects people in both rural and urban areas.

* At least 46% of households experiencing food insecurity (hunger) have a person in the household working full-time. (This is not surprising since Texas has the largest number of and highest percentage of people working for minimum wage or less.)

* Over 3.5 million people in Texas receive Food Stamp benefits (mostly children, the elderly, and the disabled).

* Food banks are having trouble keeping up with the growing demand for their services.

This is what the GOP "economic miracle" in Texas really looks like. And the chances are very good (since the state is facing another budget shortfall) that the incoming legislature (dominated by Republicans) will do the same thing the last Republican legislature did -- cut benefits for hurting people. And the national Republicans are trying to do the same. They want to cut $16 billion from the Food Stamp program (while a growing number of Americans, including Texans, find themselves needing that help).

How much longer can we afford the GOP economic policies?

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