By John Paul Valdez
It is your nickel that pays taxes. People pay various types of taxes: income taxes, property taxes, and sales taxes for example. Everyone pays at least one of those, if not more. With that money the government promises us life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The defense of our country, and the education of our people, and the health of our population all must be guarded to uphold those promises.
One small program to help assure that those promises are kept is the program commonly known as Food Stamps. As a result of Federal cuts, the average family of four receiving this benefit (from taxes they themselves also pay at least in some part) is now immediately reduced by $36 per month. 4.2 million Californians are affected by the move, including 1.1 million in the LA area alone.
This amounts to $46 million less spent in grocery stores each month. That’s quite a bit.
This leads to further declines in economic activity and fewer sales by shops and merchants at a crippling time when the weak economy is trying to grow legs. At least $9 in economic activity is generated by every $5 spent on groceries.
Interestingly, the idea of the work ethic is used as an excuse for why this relatively small government program “deserves” to be cut, but the families affected are most often the working poor. A person earning $8 an hour at 30 hours a week does not earn enough to rise above the poverty line. That person would pay sales taxes on everything they purchase with those earnings. A person spending those wages could expect to pay over $900 yearly in sales taxes alone.
The size of proposed cuts for a reconciled budget in congress is about one tenth when compared to the cuts requested by the Republican controlled House. $4 billion in cuts are being compared to $40 billion that Republicans want to the program. A number somewhere in the middle is likely.
What does that mean? Further cuts are likely; it is simply a question of how much. I refuse to write an article that makes people fear government, and we need to remember that the Governor has signed legislation increasing the minimum wage in California to $10 in two years’ time.
Cutting this particularly small program (in comparison to spending levels in other government programs) may not prove to be very popular later. That is a calculated risk our joint government is evidently willing to make at this time.