Illinois Democrats help Republicans win the “food stamp war.”

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Robin Kelly (IL-02) votes with Illinois’ conserva-Dems and Republicans to cut food-stamps (SNAP)


By Bill Bianchi, PDA-Illinois,  February 1, 2014

Wednesday Jan. 30.  The US House voted 251 to 166 to pass a five year, trillion dollar farm bill that supports the nation’s wealthy farmers and cuts funding for the nation’s nutrition programs. The bill now goes to the Senate where it’s expected to pass and be signed by the President.   

At a time when a record number of Americans are living in poverty, the new farm bill will increase their poverty by cutting $9 billion dollars from food stamp benefits over the next five years. And that comes on top of $11 billion in cuts already agreed to from stimulus money that had been providing increased SNAP benefits to the millions suffering from the financial crisis.

For two years, Democrats had been warring with Republicans not over whether to cut food stamps, but by how much to cut the program. 

According to Mother Jones, Wedneseday’s vote means that “Republicans succeeded in getting their Democratic peers to cut food stamps further.”  They won the war. 

"It's a net loss for Democrats," Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told Mother Jones.

As a result of Wednesday’s action, over two million people in Illinois will see substantial cuts to their food budgets, while already over-burdened food pantries will to do more to meet increased demand.

See full story here at Mother Jones.

Seven Illinois ConservDems:  You’re probably wondering which of our good Illinois Democrats would vote with those heartless Republicans to take food out of the mouths of Illinois’ children?  Well here they are, the sever Bad, the four Good and one who didn’t vote:1

The Bad—voted with Illinois’ Republicans for the new Farm Bill that lowers food stamp benefits:

Cheri Bustos, (IL-17); William Enyart, (IL 15);  Brad Schneider, (IL 10);  Tammy Duckworth, (IL 08), Dan Lipinski, (IL 03);  Bill Foster, (IL 11); Robin Kelly, (IL 02)

The Good—voted against the new farm bill to prevent cuts to food stamp1

Jan Schakowsky, (IL 09); Luis Gutierrez, (IL 05); Danny Davis, (IL 07); Mike Quigley, (IL 05).

Didn’t vote: Bobby Rush, (IL 01).

The Kelly Surprise:  Seeing Illinois’ six ConservaDems vote to cut social services is nothing new, but it is surprising to see newly elected Robin Kelly siding with them.  Last year, Kelly won Jesse Jackson’s seat in IL 02 with much help from progressive unions, community organizations and activists. 

Before her election Kelly promised to join the Congressional Progressive Caucus, but once elected, she didn’t join.  Her south side district includes a high proportion of food stamp recipients and only a few farmers who probably wouldn’t vote for her anyway.  So why did she vote to cut food stamp benefits?  What rewards was she seeking?   

We should ask her of course and PDA-Chicago members will do that.  But stepping back we can see there’s something radically wrong with the Democratic Party in Illinois.

There seems to be actually two parties:  the ConservaDem majority who act like moderate Republicans and a smaller group that still fights to defend the Roosevelt New Deal politics that used to be associated with the Democratic Party in Illinois. 

Where, if anywhere, do progressives fit into this Party?