The USDA is planning to lay off food inspectors citing budget constraints. At the same time they are pressing forward with a program raising awareness among Mexican migrants about food stamp programs. The program has actually been around since 2004 but is under increasing scrutiny do to shrinking budgets and rising debt. During recent Senate action in the budget committee, Senate Republicans tried to kill funding for the program but Senate Democrats torpedoed the effort. I guess food stamps for migrant Mexicans are a big vote getter in their districts?
Some of President Obama’s oft repeated warnings about the recent sequester cuts was the possible need to cut meat inspectors and food safety personal. This would have the effect of driving up food prices and interfering with the nation’s food supply since FDA rules require inspections before food can be sold to consumers. Therefore, and despite Obama’s warnings, food safety would not actually be affected since inspections would still have to occur. The inspections would just take longer, which could lead to supply shortages and hence, higher prices.
In all honesty this is the kind of thing that makes reasonable people scratch their heads. With all the talk of debt crises and budget cutting why do Senate Democrats go to the wall to protect a program like this? This isn’t even funding for actual food stamps for Mexicans, as benefit programs are obviously not based on race or ethnicity. This program is just to fund partnerships with the government of Mexico to make sure Mexicans migrating to the United States know how to apply for food stamps.
We are fast approaching a time when we need to have a real national discussion about our spending priorities. Whether you believe the debt crisis is looming or still a decade away it is coming. We need to decide which things are essential government services and which are just “nice to have”. It’s the same considerations I make with my family every day. I submit that awareness of food stamps for Mexican migrants is one of those things we can cut, especially at a time when we are cutting meat inspectors and soldiers.