Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Hungering For Action

While the right-wing media feedback loop is having a pointless apoplectic fit about Libya - as Jonathan Bernstein pointed out on Monday - all their screaming and hollering won't change the facts on that subject, as we outlined them six months ago.

It also won't change what Congress will be working on this week - and it won't change the fact that millions of older, low income, often housebound Americans, will go hungry today.

Air traffic controllers, some defense department employees, and many federal regulatory employees - from meat inspectors to seasonal archeologists - have all been exempted from the biting sequestration cuts that keep hurting more and more Americans. Meanwhile, one of America's key nutrition programs, Meals on Wheels, is limping around on fiscal flat tires. Unlike the breathless hype that's become a key feature surrounding so many other budget issues - like the deficit - hungry old people just don't seem to merit the concerns of Congress today.

For those concerned about what the sequester cuts are doing to America's elderly, food isn't the only thing they're hungering for.

Across the nation, older Americans affected by the inaction of Congress to fix the federal budget cuts - cuts that were caused by Congress' budgetary inaction in the first place - can't seem to score a moment on national TV, a minute on national radio, or a more than a short story in most newspapers.

The reason for this limited focus is partly obvious. Older, somewhat reclusive individuals don't have their own multi-billion dollar lobby to fight for them, like American 'brick and mortar' retail companies, who got the Senate to pass the sales tax bill they wanted on Monday.

Typical users of Meals on Wheels also aren't exactly the strange, inflammatory, seditious, ratings grabbers from the annual NRA convention, so the cable "news" networks aren't exactly looking to talk about the hungry old people, or help anyone do anything about them.

In large part, that's the problem Meals on Wheels was set up to solve, as those who usually benefit from the program are most often quiet individuals who no longer can get up and raise hell. Many can't even get out of their homes.

For all the screaming about debt and deficits we've heard over the years from the Republicans in Congress - and a few Democrats too - we've heard virtually nothing from those same publicity-happy members of Congress as the news recently came out that the Federal government can now afford to pay down the debt for the first time in six years. You might even think if America can pay off our collective debts that we could help our elderly at least not starve. Reality seems to say otherwise.

We're sure the thought that America can finally begin to pay off the debts that our nation's government ran up during the Bush years is a comforting idea to the elderly Americans who are struggling today to get through another day with little or nothing to eat.