Most of us will eat a great dinner Thursday and we have a lot to be thankful for. But many Americans won't have much to eat on Thanksgiving or any other day for that matter.
The Boston Globe recently profiled Laurinda Darosa, a single mother of two children who lives in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston. Laurinda had a job but unfortunately she hasn't been able to work since she had heart surgery.
Before November 1st, Laurinda received $66 in federal nutrition benefits every month. You can imagine it's not easy to feed three people on that kind of budget. Don't try it at home. A gallon of milk at the local supermarket costs $2.99. You can do the math, so you can imagine how tough it was for Laurinda and her children when her federal food assistance allowance dropped to $37 a month effective November 1. The allowance for the Darosa family and millions of other Americans decreased because House Republicans refused to extend the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits that were part of the Economic Recovery Act.
Whatever happened to compassionate conservatism anyway? These days, compassionate conservatism is as much an oxymoron as the phrase "free agency" in the sports world is.
Laurinda and her family will soon take another hit for the holidays from the GOP Grinch who stole Christmas. The deadline for a new federal budget agreement is 10 days before Christmas. The Republican budget proposal is Rep. Paul Ryan's "Path to Prosperity" which is a path to poverty for millions of Americans. Under the Ryan budget there will an additional $39 billion in cuts in nutrition assistance for people like Laurinda and her kids over the next 10 years. Good luck with that.
Forty-seven million Americans were on the wrong end of the cuts that just went into effect. Thirty-seven million of the people who suffered the cuts were women and children. The cut took food out of the mouths of babes. And Republicans wonder why so few women vote for them anymore. Ten million of the recipients of the reduced allotments were seniors. A million veterans were also at the wrong end of the budget axe – I hope they didn't build up too much of an appetite fighting for our freedom. Thank you for your service.
Meanwhile President Obama's calls to congressional Republicans to cut the hundreds of billions of dollars of corporate welfare fall on deaf ears. Big business has thousands of highly paid lobbyists in Washington. Hungry Americans just don't have much clout in the capital.
The burden on federal taxpayers would be lighter if Republicans in the House of Representatives would follow the Senate's example and vote to increase the minimum wage. The best Wal-Mart can do is to sponsor food drives for its workers. McDonald's does its part by sending its workers a pamphlet on stretching their food dollar. If McDonald's really wants to help, the fast food giant could pay its workers a living wage.
Conservatives trot out the Bible at the drop of a hat to justify their extremism. During the holiday season, they might want to check out Matthew 25:34-36. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said "Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat.'"
This time of year, conservatives complain that liberals are trying to take Christ out of Christmas. One way for Republicans to put Christ back into Christmas would be practice a little Christian charity by voting against the Ryan budget next month.
Corrected on 12/5/13: An earlier version of this blog post misspelled Laurinda Darosa's name.