Thursday, September 26, 2013

GOP Cuts Food Assistance for Poor, Tries Yet Again to Torpedo Obamacare, Quotes Bible All the While

While I was preparing to provide testimony in a trial in the past two weeks, one of the two major political parties in the U.S., the Republican party, was up to some exceedingly dirty business--cutting food support for needy American families to the tune of $40 billion, while beefing up subsidies to agribusiness. And, of course, trying once again ineffectually to torpedo a federal program designed to provide access to healthcare for millions of citizens who lack such access . . . . And, of course, quoting the bible to beat the band as it did this dirty work. Here are some articles I've read about these matters in the past two weeks that have caught my eye:

In a piece entitled "Let Them Not Eat," Abby Zimet comments on the GOP's choice to slash $40 billion in food stamps for 48 million Americans suffering "food insecurity." As this takes place, North Dakota GOP representative Kevin Cramer, whose district has gotten $10.4 billion in agricultural subsidies, the most in the nation, quotes the bible rather selectively:

If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.

And Ken Blackwell of the Family Research Council argues that "there's 'nothing more Christian' than making people go hungry in order to ensure 'they are participants in their own upliftment and empowerment . . . there within lies the path to a sense of worthiness.'"  

In "Free to Be Hungry," Paul Krugman thinks that the choice of the GOP to wage war on food stamps while increasing farm subsidies may make Republicans look, well, just like what they are:

Even some conservative pundits worry that the war on food stamps, especially combined with the vote to increase farm subsidies, is bad for the G.O.P., because it makes Republicans look like meanspirited class warriors. Indeed it does. And that’s because they are.

Steven Rosenfeld wonders if the 61 Catholic Republican members of the House, all (or almost all?) of whom voted recently with their fellow Republicans to make savage cuts in foods stamps and oppose Obamacare, may have missed the pope's recent memo about what really counts for Christian morality: 

The thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the church as a field hospital after battle.

In an examination of why Obamacare is a GOP nightmare, Eugene Robinson notes that about 48 million Americans lacked health insurance in 2012, per Census Bureau statistics, amounting to about 15 percent of the population, and aout 25 percent of those in households with annual incomes below $25,000 are uninsured. And:

Republicans scream that Obamacare is sure to fail. But what they really fear is that it will succeed. 
That’s the reason for all the desperation. Republicans are afraid that Obamacare will not prove to be a bureaucratic nightmare—that Americans, in fact, will find they actually like it. The GOP fears that Obamacare will even be credited with slowing the rise of health care costs to a more manageable rate. There are signs, in fact, that this “bending of the curve” is already taking place: Medical costs are still rising much faster than inflation but at the slowest rate in decades.

The selective bible-quoting to prove that God wants us to make the hungry hungrier and keep the sick sicker amazes me. One of the key points I hear Pope Francis making in his recent interview is that appeals to Christian morality used to militate against the very heart of the Christian message--God's all-encompassing mercy for the world demonstrated in Christ, and God's preferential love for those on the margins--are distortions of the very heart of the Christian message. 

We who have gay have long known that this is the case, as people of faith intent on stigmatizing us snatch at a handful of bible verses to tell us we're dire sinners, while turning a blind eye to what constitutes the weight of the Judaeo-Christian tradition in the scriptures: to love tenderly, do justice, and walk humbly with God. It's no accident that the very same political and religious players who are convinced that the bible condemns homosexuals also cite bible verses to prove that "God" wants the hungry to work if they expect to eat, or that "God" views healthcare for all citizens as godless socialism. 

Is it?

The John Boehner Antoinette cartoon is by Adam Ziglis of Cagle Cartoons and Buffalo News, by way of Truthdig.

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