On December 4, the Trump administration approved a rules change around Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP benefits—commonly referred to as food stamps—which will remove up to 688,000 adults from participating in the program unless they find part-time work. While some estimates predict this change will save the U.S. $5 billion over 5 years, anti-hunger activists worry it will hurt low-income individuals who can’t find steady work, and it will negatively impact certain communities more than others, including recipients with mental health issues and disabilities, Black and Hispanic households, women, and the LGBTQ community. In defense of this decision, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said, “We need to encourage people by giving them a helping hand, but not allowing it to become an infinitely giving hand”.
Unfortunately, that concern over the United States becoming an “infinitely giving hand” did not extend to the recent National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which was passed by the House on December 11, to the tune of $738 billion, and very likely be signed by the president. That funding package includes allocations for a new “easier to use” submarine launched nuclear warhead, and full funding for virtually every other element of the Trump administrations $1.7 trillion, 30-year plan to replace the entire nuclear weapons arsenal. Earlier this year, the House of Representatives removed several of the most objectionable parts of the Trump nuclear weapons budget, but most of these provisions were subsequently lost in the House/Senate Conference Committee.
In response to the final version of the NDAA, Representative Mark Pocan, who co-chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said, “At the same time that this administration has cut food stamps, Medicaid and reproductive health services from everyday Americans, this president wants to add more than a hundred billion dollars to continue endless and unauthorized wars, ban transgender troops, keep Guantanamo Bay open, allow the unchecked contamination of water supplies with polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), and establish a Space Force.”
While PSR primarily works on nuclear weapons abolition and climate change, many of our chapters around the country work in coalitions with other organizations to be part of the larger movement working to ensure a just and sustainable future. When Congress rubber stamps these enormous sums for the Pentagon, it consciously reduces resources available to other vital programs like SNAP. As President Eisenhower famously said in his Chance for Peace address, “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”
Physicians for Social Responsibility will continue working to reject funding for nuclear weapons and counter the outsized influence of the military-industrial complex that compels these weapons into existence.