Ky. Voices: Waiting for Barr's plan to help people who need food

September 30, 2013 

Jack Burch, who retired last year as executive director of the Community Action Council after 34 years, died Wednesday, April 9, 2014, at age 68 of lung cancer. In this picture taken last year, Burch stood next to a hand-carved door that was a gift when he left Mali, where he had served as the director for the Peace Corps.

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  • At issue: Sept. 20 Hearst Newspapers article, "House votes $39B cut to food stamps; Congressman explains his vote"

I am trying to understand what Congressman Andy Barr must have been thinking when he voted recently to cut SNAP benefits (food stamps) by $40 billion. He said in your press release it would encourage people to leave SNAP and go to work. How is the bill "compassionate" when it's definition of encourage is to dump them in a job market where there are more than four jobseekers for every job?

How is it "compassionate" to remove 3.8 million Americans from the rolls when the result is they won't have access to adequate, nutritious food as a result of this bill?

Barr's news advisory didn't even mention the elderly, the disabled, the children and minimum-wage earners, in addition to the unemployed, who will also be pushed off SNAP assistance. Surely, he wasn't planning to encourage most of these other folks to go to work, too?

Oh, and about those minimum wage earners who also receive SNAP benefits: He should know that Walmart developed a budget guide for its employees that presumes they will receive SNAP because the company doesn't pay them survival wages.

I have tried hard but, frankly, I can't come up with a way to prevent the suffering and malnutrition that are likely to result, if the cuts become law.

Don't say private charity will fix the problem. Surely our congressman has seen the media coverage regarding God's Pantry Food Bank's lack of sufficient resources to help all of those who needed help even before he and his friends in the House passed the bill.

I am sure Barr is smart enough to know that the good folks at God's Pantry can't solve the problem Congress is helping to create. And, the extra money in the bill for food pantries will not do the job. It comes nowhere near the $40 billion in cuts.

Congress is lucky to have so many bright people to do research for its members and to analyze the consequences of the policies they enact. Did Barr ask them for a report on what can be done for the millions cut from SNAP and just forgot to include that in his media advisory?

Now, some of my liberal friends say Barr really doesn't care about the 47 percent of Americans who receive some help from the federal government, referring to the remarks the Republican presidential candidate made in 2010.

But I want Barr to have a chance to prove that his heart isn't as cold as Mitt Romney's. So, let's see his plan.

As polls probably show, the majority of 6th District voters are pretty much down the middle of the road.

They don't want their tax dollars wasted, but, they would be offended to learn that Barr was involved in a scheme to take their great-grandmother's lunch away without ensuring she still gets adequate nutritious food. We want her around to see the great-grandchildren graduate from high school.

So he should let us know how he plans to take care of her.

Oh, and while he's at it, he can explain why he also voted to increase taxpayer subsidies to America's richest farmers?

Why, one of his colleagues in the House from Tennessee has already gotten over $3 million in farm subsidies. I'm sure he is a nice guy. But really, in the present budget climate, does the lawmaker need more of our tax dollars?

Barr should explain why he thinks rich farmers deserve increased subsidies, but poor, hungry people do not need any help.

I am pretty sure he knows the story about Jesus with the fishes and loaves. Clearly, he thought we should feed more hungry people, not less. It seems that value should apply to Barr's recent votes.

Like many other voters in the 6th Congressional District, I am anxious to see how Barr will make sure no one in his district goes hungry as a result of his action.


At issue: Sept. 20 Hearst Newspapers article, "House votes $39B cut to food stamps; Congressman explains his vote"

Jack Burch of Lexington is recently retired director of the Community Action Council.

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