Reading Erik Paulsen’s (R-MN-03) press releases, there is a common theme — the 2.3% (1.5% after taxes) Medical Device Tax is a job killer which threatens workers at businesses like St. Jude Medical (headquartered in Minnetonka).
Yet, one would be hard pressed to find any mention of ICA Foodshelf in Representative Paulsen’s press releases … by-the-way, ICA food client visits have increased 81% since 2008 when Mr. Paulsen was first elected. In 2011, there were over 10,000 visits to ICA for food … and 25% of clients live in Minnetonka.
Well, based on the failure of House Republicans to allow a vote on H.R. 3108: Extend Not Cut SNAP Benefits Act, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP … aka the Food Stamp program) will be cut by about $5 billion in the funding year that begins on November 1. As a result, the average benefit for a family of four would drop by $36 per month, according to estimates from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.
Representative Paulsen is deeply concerned about the future of healthcare costs, yet his silence on nutritional needs is deafening. As the Lancet Medical Journal wrote : “Many studies have shown positive associations between receipt of SNAP and… a lower risk of anemia, obesity, poor health, hospital admission for failure to thrive, and reports of child abuse and neglect.”
So, with the November 1st cuts, ICA should expect to see greater demand for its services … yet, the future looks even more dire … and Representative Paulsen is the one making the demands.
A little Paulsen-history lesson … The House Agriculture Committee advanced a bill that cut the SNAP program by $20.5 Billion … yes, $20.5 Billion. But that was not enough for some … so Amendment #101 was offered by Representative Tim Huelskamp (R-KS-01) raising the total reduction in spending to $31 billion. 57 Republicans said NO … that’s too much … but not Erik Paulsen … he voted to raise the cuts by another $11 Billion. That was not enough for some Republicans, so on September 19th, he joined with all but 15 Republicans to increase the cuts to $40 Billion. The $40 Billion cut is the Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act and House-Senate conferees are presently debating its future.
It must be noted also, that Representative Paulsen’s prime legislative goal of repealing the “onerous” Medical Device Tax has a price tag of $30 Billion. Representative Paulsen’s bill – H.R.523 – Protect Medical Innovation Act of 2013- has 267 co-sponsors, so one would think that he could just demand the Republican leadership to hold a vote … but there is one problem … giving a $30 Billion tax cut must be paid for … or it would just get added to the national debt.
That’s the math problem that the “Math Guy” has to solve …. hmmm … anyone else notice the coincidence that the savings from food stamps could be used to offset the tax refund that Representative Paulsen wants to give the medical device industry ?
But what does that mean to the families that currently participate in the SNAP program ?
The November 1st cut amounts to about $5 Billion … leaving roughly $1.40 per person per meal. The $5 Billion cut meant that for a family of four, the benefit will drop from $668 per month down to $632.
Now, this is where the “Math Guy” should really tell his constituents what to expect.
If $5 Billion resulted in a $36 cut, what would the amount be if Erik Paulsen’s proposed $40 Billion additional cut mean to a family of four ?
Would that mean that they would lose another $288 and that a family of four would receive food stamp benefits of $344 ?
There has been some talk about “Death Panels” being associated with Obamacare … well, it sounds like a slow and painful death for the children and seniors who are the primary recipients of food stamps if Erik Paulsen’s $40 Billion cut is enacted.
Regardless, the ICA Foodshelf and similar community organizations better be prepared for more clients because Representative Paulsen offset for the repealing the 2.3% Medical Device Tax takes precedent over children, veterans and seniors.
Oh, and not to be forgotten is that the medical device industry stock values continue to rise … dividends are being increased … heck, even St. Jude Medical expanded its facility (adding 400 jobs) this summer (with Erik Paulsen there to give a speech)
… and the job loss claims have been refuted by FactCheck.org.
So that leaves only one question … if Erik Paulsen will allow food stamp cuts in order to get a tax cut, what will he do when faced with the question of Social Security and Medicare funding ? But we already have a hint, because Representative Paulsen has already indicated by his SNAP funding cuts who he represents.
Photo Credit : SUN staff photo by Brian Rosemeyer