This is the chart that shows how “the 1 percent won the recovery,” explains The Washington Post‘s Dylan Matthews.
A new paper by UC Berkeley’s Emmanuel Saez and the Paris School of Economics’ Thomas Piketty quantifies something that most economists and politicians should be aware of: The recovery has been amazing — for the richest.
The trend of the 1 percent sucking up most of the economy’s raw growth — this study doesn’t account for pension and health care benefits, which are also in decline — has been getting worse and worse for decades, as a result of government policy. But in the last five years the rich have been devouring 95 percent of the economic recovery.
Don’t worry, though. House Republicans have a solution: cut SNAP benefits (food stamps) for millions of struggling Americans.
The House of Representatives is expected Thursday to take up a proposal which could make somewhere between 4 and 6 million Americans ineligible for full SNAP benefits, according to an analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Called the Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act, the law would reduce SNAP funding by $40 billion over the next decade—nearly double the $20.5 billion which House Republicans originally tried to cut out of the food stamp program two months ago.
Republicans demand these cuts for two reasons.
First, we need to cut the deficit, even though the deficit is shrinking faster than it has in 60-years.
The Congressional Budget Office has stated that food stamps are the government’s most effective form of stimulus. Every $1 billion cut from the program kills 13,718 jobs, according to the Center for American Progress. Still, we need to cut the deficit! But we can’t do it by taking away tax breaks for hedge fund managers, corporate jets or retirement accounts with millions of dollars in them. We need to cut the deficit in a way that punishes the people who are already being punished in this economy, which brings us to the second reason Republicans want to cut food stamps.
You see, we are creating a “safety hammock” that’s making life too easy for the poor. We’re creating unemployment by paying people to not work, even though most SNAP benefits go to children and the elderly.
The New York Times‘ Paul Krugman took on this nonsense in July:
Do you really believe that Americans are living lives of leisure on $134 a month, the average SNAP benefit?
Still, let’s pretend to take this seriously. If employment is down because government aid is inducing people to stay home, reducing the labor force, then the law of supply and demand should apply: Withdrawing all those workers should be causing labor shortages and rising wages, especially among the low-paid workers most likely to receive aid. In reality, of course, wages are stagnant or declining — and that’s especially true for the groups that benefit most from food stamps.
The programs the GOP want to cut would specifically target adults who haven’t found a job or aren’t in a work program because most states don’t have sufficient job training services. States are currently allowed to give these adults waivers. The House bill would take away power from the states in the name of teaching the value of “hard work.”
The ultimate irony in this crusade to punish the poorest is that recent studies have shown that food stamp usage is growing the fastest in areas that have voted Republican.