Maybe you thought the lowest possible point of Republican miserliness was reached when Ronald Reagan's Secretary of Agriculture proposed that ketchup be counted as a vegetable in the school lunch program. If so, you've not taken a peek at the GOP's astoundingly penurious budget proposal recently pasted together in a fit of ideological extremism by the party's budget guru, Rep. Paul Ryan.
Of all things, GOP lawmakers hacked $8 billion from next year's food stamp funds — a well-run, widely popular, and effective program that helps millions of hard-hit American families stave off some of the pain of poverty. Maybe so, concede Ryan & Company, but the program is out of control, having added some 13 million people in the last three years. Well, gosh, Paul, welcome to the real America — where joblessness is rampant, wages are down, and the middle class is tumbling into poverty. Food stamp use is supposed to increase in such times. It means the program is working.
Still, retorts a Ryan henchman, everyone must sacrifice to lower the deficit, so these cuts are merely "reflecting the budgetary times we're in." Really? Then why does your budget give an average of $265,000 a year in more tax benefits to millionaires? And why, in your demand for severe austerity in government, do you not cut a dime from the Pentagon's bloated budget — even handing it an increase?
Finally, Ryan asserts that his food stamp cuts are for poor people's own good. Citing his Catholic religion's doctrine of "social magisterium," Paul the Pious says he's preventing poor families from the moral horror of being "dependent on government."
Just imagine their gratitude! And imagine Ryan's embarrassment that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops dared to contradict his divine rationalization, bluntly calling the cuts "unjustified and wrong."