Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Food Stamps, Head Start and Other Social Programs Stalled Because of Gov't Shutdown

By Claudio Iván Remeseira | Posted Wednesday, October 2, 2013, at 3.10 p.m. ET. Last modified Wed., Oct. 2, 2013 at 4:43 p.m. ET

With the federal government shutdown entering its second day, its actual effects on real people are already being felt. A spirited excahange took place today at MSNBC' Morning Show between Weekly Standard’s editor Bill Kristol and The Huffington Post’s Politics Editor Sam Stein (with additional remarks by another panelist in the show, famed investigative journalist Carl Bernstein).

With a dismissive grin on his face, Kristol played down the anguised complaints of Eleanor Holmes Norton, delagate of the District of Columbia, who was desperately begging her colleagues in Congress to reconsider the fate of the federal employees in her district. (Watch VIDEO, below). “I think there’s a little bit too much hysteria,” Kristol said (Watch VIDEO below, 4:20). "This is not the end of the world ...  We’re going to have to have a negotiation.”

About 20 minutes later, Kristol got his reply from Stein. “Maybe in your world it’s not the end of the world,” Stein said (see VIDEO, 23:08)

"Eighty-five thousand people are losing nutritional assistance in Arkansas, that’s not inside the Beltway, that’s Arkansas. Thirteen Head Start programs are closing in Connecticut.” It’s more than that: 23 Head Start programs in 11 states have sent low-income preschool children back home, because they lack the funding to stay open; 850,000 federal employees were placed on immediate, unpaid leave; and a number of veteran’s services were hit by the shutdown, too. 

"For these people who are affected by these cuts, it is sort of comparable to the end of the world. I understand it’s great to wait it out and to negotiate from a better platform with more power and the debt ceiling and all that,” Stein continued. “But those two weeks while you wait it out are consequential for a whole number of people, not just in the agencies that the Republicans want funded. I think we tend to lose that kind of perspective in these kinds of conversations.”
His grin gone, a more serious Kristol replied:
“Look, I think if there are genuine human emergencies the Republican House should move to fund those relevant programs,” Kristol said looking skeptical. “But a one or two week shutdown is not going to be the end of the world and if you can’t go into the Smithsonian—” he began.
“Unless you’re on nutritional assistance,” Stein countered.
“It’s not going to be the end of the world, honestly, even if you’re on nutritional assistance from the federal government. The state of Arkansas can help out, localities can help out, churches can help out, I believe no one is going to starve in Arkansas because of the shutdown,” Kristol concluded, while a muted Stein just nodded his head. [Read more at MSNBC]
 

Another critical case is the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), which serves around 9 million low-income mothers and children across the nation (WIC's website is down because of the shutdown). Media Matters reports:
On September 27, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a Contingency and Reconstitution Plan that stated that in the event of a government shutdown, states would have to decide whether to continue these food assistance programs "at their own risk with the understanding that Federal funds may not be forthcoming." The plan noted that there would be "no additional federal funds" for the WIC in particular, in addition to the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) and The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). The USDA later released guidance to states allowing them to tap into additional funds to attempt to prolong the programs, but warned states could still "face funding shortfalls" if the shutdown lasted more than one week.


The shutdown also means the interruption of treatment for about 200 cancer patients (including children) per week at the National Institutes of Health clinical research center.

As for the federal employees, up to 800,000 people will be furloughed and over a million will not get paid since Tuesday as a consequence of the shutdown, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) said. This agency has also estimated the number of Hispanic federal workers in around 160,000 people, or 8.2 percent of the entire federal workforce. [For further information about the effects of the shutdown, see ABC News infographic]

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