SNAP Challenge? Congress Should Try the Taxpayer Challenge Instead

June 18, 2013

Last week my Congressman, Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Cuba) was one of two dozen Democrats to take “the SNAP Challenge” and live off of a $31.50 food allowance for a week in response to proposed cuts in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Funding for SNAP has soared from $18 billion in 2000 to $74 billion in 2011.  It’s now used by 45 million Americans.  Yet Congressman McGovern believes that the program should not be cut. 

If, as he claims, 50 million Americans are going hungry in spite of this growth in the SNAP program, SNAP is not working.

So rather than taking “the SNAP Challenge,” Congressman McGovern could better serve his district by taking the Taxpayer Challenge and try living like the rest of us.

He could give up his Congressional pay raises and the generous defined benefit pension program that Congress enjoys; most of America does not have a guaranteed pension for life, even after working for 40 or more years.  He could try living with the same healthcare benefits the average American lives with and contribute part of the cost.  He could try running a small business and complying with all of the regulations that he and others in Congress have supported during the Obama years.  And if he really wants to help America, he could support legislation making it illegal for members of Congress to peddle their influence as lobbyists and consultants after their years of service.

He should not take the Taxpayer Challenge for just a week, though.  He should try it fulltime and encourage other members of Congress to join him in the challenge.

The SNAP Challenge is a meaningless publicity stunt.  The Taxpayer Challenge would require genuine sacrifice.



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