Buried in HR1135, designed to “provide information on total spending on means-tested welfare programs, to provide additional work requirements, and to provide an overall spending limit on on means-tested welfare program” is a sneaky provision which would actually cut off food stamps for all members of a family in which one member goes on strike:
“(3)STRIKING WORKERS INELIGIBLE—- Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no member of a family unit shall participate in the food stamp program at any time that any able-bodied work eligible adult member of such household is on strike as defined in the Labor Management Relations Act, 1947 (29 U.S.C. 142(2)), because of a labor dispute (other than a lockout) as defined in section 2(9) of the National Labor Relations Act”
Most of HR1135 purports to verify that persons on food stamps are meeting the federal requirements for receiving food stamps, but the actual result of passing it would be to cut off food stamp benefits to any family where one adult member strikes against an employer. While the bill does exempt a family from being denied any food stamps if they were already receiving them, it does specify that there will be no increase in that family’s food stamp allowance because of a reduction in income as a consequence of the strike. The justification, no doubt, is to “control spending” and reduce the budget deficit.
The obvious intent of sneak provision (3) is to hold the families of strikers hostage, making a worker think twice before going on strike (striking possibly to achieve a higher wage which would remove the necessity for going on food stamps in the first place). Striking, of course, was one of the main ways workers in the past forced improvements in wages and working conditions on company owners; it certainly was not by calling on the owners to put into practice any Christian values, or even to show some enlightened self-interest.
With 42 million Americans currently eligible for, and receiving food stamp assistance, it would seem that corporotist Republicans are turning the screw one more time on the middle class. Says Zaid Jilani in Alternet on 24 March 2011, “…. the right is simply looking for more ways to hurt working class Americans.” I would add that this is part of a deliberate pattern, another piece of evidence that Republicans not only want to Turn Back the Clock, but have every intention of re-inventing America as a corporation-dominated country with a two-tier society and a two-tier economy, one with a tiny elite upper class enjoying prosperity and obscene wealth, and the vast majority living in a more-or-less permanent jobless- recession as wage serfs under a system of corporate feudalism.