Friday, May 23, 2014

Republicans only want school lunches for rural kids


Sometimes, Republicans surprise even me. From TPM:
House Republicans are pushing to restrict a low-income food aid program to children in "rural" areas, a surprising move that has Democrats and nutrition advocates crying foul.

The proposal, included in the House agriculture budget approved by a subcommittee this week, scales back an anti-hunger school lunch demonstration program set up in 2010 to feed "children in urban and rural areas" during the summer months when they're on break.

As first reported by Politico's David Rogers, the GOP bill brings down the $85 million in funding to $27 million and limits the program to only rural kids in Appalachian counties. ...

But it isn't lost on Democrats that their constituents -- many of whom are struggling in poverty -- mostly reside in urban areas while rural areas tend to be packed with GOP voters. The Appalachian region is also more white (83.5 percent) than the United States overall (63.7 percent), according to the Appalachian Regional Commission -- and much more so than urban areas, which have a disproportionately high share of minorities.

Remember, "inner city"is one of the Republican code words for "black." Restricting this to not just rural kids, but rural Appalachian kids, is about as clear as saying "white kids only," wouldn't you say?

I mean, it's bad enough that Republicans are targeting school lunch programs for budget cuts (instead of, you know, subsidies to big oil and gas companies, for example). But I guess that no one is going to have a problem with this if it's just black kids who go hungry, huh?

There's more crazy stuff in that House ag budget than this, of course. Republicans continue to drag their feet when it comes to Wall Street regulation (obviously, the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression - on their watch - wouldn't get them to change their mind on that), and they're demanding that potatoes be considered a qualified vegetable in nutrition assistance (thanks to heavy lobbying from the potato industry).

But this school lunch stuff still surprises me. How crazy can they get?

Of course, they've been attacking school lunches for some time:
Before Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) fibbed and told a story at CPAC about free school lunches that turned out to be false, the meme had been long in the making as a conservative rallying cry about the evils of liberal ideology.

It was adopted in the Senate primaries by Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA), who suggested in December that school kids "maybe sweep the floor of the cafeteria" if they want to avail of free lunches. (Kingston, who is struggling in a three-way race with two ultraconservative opponents, was later found to have expensed nearly $4,200 in meals to his congressional office.) ...

The National School Lunch Program, which provides federal assistance for public and private schools to offer lunch to children, has been around since 1946. It feeds 17.5 million kids with free or reduced-cost lunches every school day. The lunch is free if their household earns below 130 percent of the federal poverty line, and cheaper if it's between 130 and 185 percent of poverty. It aims to address a real problem: three out of five teachers report that kids in their classrooms regularly come to school hungry, and a majority says the problem is getting worse, according to a survey by the advocacy group No Kid Hungry. ...

A parallel story that is aggravating conservative sentiments is First Lady Michelle Obama's effort to make kids healthier by overhauling nutrition standards for school lunches. Not only has it prompted howls of outrage from radio host Rush Limbaugh, it has motivated three Republican congressmen to introduce legislation that requires the White House and U.S. Department of Agriculture to abide by the same nutrition standards. ...

It is a testament to the power of the idea among conservatives that Ryan's tale was not only second-hand from a state official in Wisconsin but also fictitious. He ended up apologizing for "failing to verify the original source of the story."

Well, I suppose this is how Republicans compromise, huh? They hate feeding poor kids, but they'll agree to do it, providing that we only feed the kids of white Republicans.


Gregg Garthright said...

So now the question about Republicans isn't " how crazy can you go?", it's "how evil can you be?" Seriously, it's amazing they can get by with this stuff without a huge public outcry. Unfortunately, too few of us are paying attention.

WCG said...

Yes, I agree, Gregg. How can you attack school lunch programs - even when you're not being this bigoted - and keep getting elected? But I guess people can rationalize away anything, as long as it fits the meme they've bought into.

I always thought we were better than this, as a nation, but now I wonder if there's any limit to how low we can go.