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Disclaimer: The author of this site maintained the campaign weblog of John Kline's opponent in the 2006 election, which made Congressman Kline a bit testy.

As with all blogs, review the facts carefully and draw your own conclusions.

Monday, November 21, 2005

John Kline's Priorities: Tax Cuts for the Wealthy over Food for the Poor

A recent study concludes that 87 percent of Americans are "food secure" --- that is, they have no need to worry where their next meal is coming from.

For those of you with shaky math skills, that means that 13 percent of Americans --- 38 million Americans --- don't know where their next meal is coming from.

The Republican party has controlled the House of Representatives for nearly 11 years, and the Senate and White House for most of the last five. If I were an elected official, especially a Republican, I would be embarrassed that the world's richest country and its sole remaining superpower can't keep 13 percent of its population adequately fed.

But of course, I'm not a Republican, and last Friday, Republicans in the House gave me yet another reason to take pride in that fact, as they (barely) passed a bill to cut $50 billion from the federal budget --- principally by cutting funding for the Food Stamp program (the bill also contains several other appalling measures). It is estimated that these cuts would drop a minimum of 120,000 people from the program, people who are "mostly working families with children."

Not surprisingly, John Kline voted for this bill. Of course, this doesn't necessarily mean that he is insensitive to the needs of the working poor with hungry children. After all, the budget reconciliation bill is a huge piece of legislation, and it's certain that no legislator of either party was 100% in favor or 100% opposed to it. Voting in Congress almost always requires legislators to take some good and some bad. But this bill has Democrats and progressives upset for a variety of reasons, and is one which the National Council of churches calls a "moral disaster of monumental proportion". So how did John Kline explain his vote?

He didn't. A search of the Congressional Record over the last 2 weeks yields no floor speeches by Congressman Kline on this bill. A search of his congressional website lists 59 press releases for 2005 --- 8 of the last 11 bragging about how much pork he's brought into the district --- but not a word about hunger in America, any plans he has to address it, or any indication that he's even given it a thought. His silence on this issue is far more disturbing to me than any statement he might have made justifying his support for this bill. It demonstrates callous disregard for those in need.

And mind you, the hungry, working poor aren't just some folks out in Virginia --- they're right here in Minnesota, too. Food shelves in Minnesota had an all-time record number of visitors in 2004. This morning, I heard on the radio that there are children who are in such a persistent state of hunger that they dream about food. Sure, John Kline is a conservative who believes in smaller government, but he has a responsibility to his affected constituents. He should have some kind of plan or suggestion to help them. Can't he even take the time to acknowledge that there's a problem?

Next week, the House is scheduled to vote on extending Bush's tax cuts to the wealthy, which is estimated to increase the deficit by another $70 billion. There's every reason to believe that Kline will vote for it. Whatever his reasons for supporting the cuts to Food Stamps and other social programs, I guess deficit reduction wasn't one of them.


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