On Wednesday, Republicans in the Senate voted to double undergraduate student loan interest rates from 3.4% to 6.8%, making it more difficult for people to lift themselves out of economic struggle by earning a college degree.
One of the transformations associated with earning a college degree is decreased dependence on government services like SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. You and I know this program as “food stamps.” SNAP food stamp benefits are distributed to families in times of great economic challenge, often to people working in WalMart jobs so rotten that they can’t feed their children paycheck to paycheck. How can a person well enough to avoid WalMart jobs and stay off of food stamps? According to a College Board study, the best way to avoid food stamps is to earn a college degree:
The Republican Party made getting off food stamps harder this week when its members voted to raise student loan interest rates. With that task completed, what came next for the Republican Party?
You guessed it: voting to take away all funding for the SNAP food stamp program. 216 members of the House of Representatives, every one of them a Republican, passed an Agriculture appropriations bill yesterday that stripped out all food stamp funds (SNAP is a program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture).
First, they make it harder to get a college education.
Then, they make it harder for undereducated, underpaid and underemployed Americans to eat.
That’s the Republican way.
And who suffers? Kids suffer. If the GOP gets away with this, innocent kids will go hungry. 72% of the recipients of SNAP food stamps are families with kids. Approximately 1 out of every 2 SNAP food stamp recipients is a child.
The cycle won’t end here. Kids who go hungry don’t do as well in school, which means that when they grow up, they’ll have to struggle to obtain a college degree, a college degree which as we’ve seen would largely prevent their families from having to go on food stamps.
It could be better. We could feed hungry kids and provide college loans at reasonable rates so that future generations wouldn’t need food stamps, and could grow up nourished, and could do better in school, and could support their families. This positive track could in the aggregate help the whole nation succeed.
But when Republican Party politicians vote to increase the burden on college students and to completely defund the food stamp program, they don’t make matters better. They push our country and its most vulnerable citizens toward the worse.
Are you waiting for a punchline? There is no punchline. There is no clever joke to take away the rawness of the GOP’s cruel, stupid moves this week. There’s only a question: are you going to let this happen?