By now, you're probably familiar with the brilliant move that at least half a dozen states have taken to preserve food stamp coverage, despite Republican attempts to cut the program under the recently passed farm bill. The new law requires that certain food stamp recipients receive at least $20 in home heating assistance per year in order to still qualify for food aid. Previously, as little as $1 a year in heating help was enough to make many people eligible for food stamps.
So a number of states, including New York, Pennsylvania, and Montana, had a very simple response: bump up everyone's heating aid to $20 a year. That cost New York, for instance, just $6 million in state funds but allowed $457 million in federal benefits to keep flowing to 300,000 families. Conservatives, predictably, are outraged, and Republican House John Boehner looks like he's about to pop an orange aneurysm:
"Since the passage of the farm bill, states have found ways to cheat, once again, on signing up people for food stamps. And so I would hope that the House would act to try to stop this cheating and this fraud from continuing."It's a fascinating world we live in, where following the letter of the law is now considered "cheating" and "fraud" by Republicans (as long as you're helping the disadvantaged, of course). And note that it's not just Democrats who've increased heating assistance—Pennsylvania's Republican governor has signed on as well.
Of course, Boehner is full of crap, because the law's the law and it's not getting changed any time soon. But there are nine other states that make use of the "heat and eat" program that haven't yet followed suit, and Boehner may just be trying to intimidate them into inaction. There's no reason for anyone to listen to him, though, because following the law is both perfectly legal and absolutely the right thing to do.
If you live in one of the nine remaining states where low-income Americans are still facing the threat of food stamp cuts—California, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, Vermont, Washington, or Wisconsin—then click here to sign and send a petition directly to your governor, urging him to take the appropriate action to restore food stamp funding.