Welfare State

The notorious Paxman-Brand interview

Posted on Wednesday, it already has been viewed more than 3 million 4 million 5 million 6 million times:

It’s certainly entertaining, and Brand (however much of a son-of-a-bitch he may be) manages to make some good points– especially about growing disparities of income and wealth. (Hell, even Ted Cruz is talking about that now, although he blames Barack Obama for a trend that began in earnest during Ronald Reagan’s presidency.)

But Brand loses me with his endorsement of non-voting and his vague talk of “revolution.” People living in reasonably democratic countries who talk like that are usually (like Brand) insulated from the day-to-day struggle to make a living for themselves and their families. In the US, the UK and other countries, it does make a difference for tens of millions of people– on a whole range of very specific issues– whether Democrats or Republicans are elected, and whether Labour or the Tories control Parliament.

Case in point:

The House [in September] voted 217 to 210 to approve a GOP bill to cut food-stamp spending by $39 billion over the next ten years. That’s roughly a 5 percent cut compared with current law.

The House legislation isn’t expected to get past the Senate, but it’s worth a closer look. The bill would spend $725 billion on food stamps over the next ten years, compared with about $760 billion in the Senate farm bill.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has a long analysis looking at how, specifically, the House GOP would rein in food-stamp spending through a variety of restrictions on eligibility. About half the savings come from new curbs on aid to unemployed, childless adults between the ages of 18 and 50.

Right now, there are roughly 47.7 million Americans on food stamps — a number that swelled during the recession and has only recently started to decline.

The House GOP bill would kick about 3.8 million people off the food-stamp rolls over the course of the upcoming fiscal year that begins in October. That includes 1.7 million unemployed, childless adults aged 18-50. It also includes another 2.1 million families and seniors who have incomes just slightly above the federal food-stamp limits. (In recent years, states have been able to extend food-stamp aid to these households.)

Thereafter, the House GOP bill would reduce the rolls by about 2.8 million people each year compared with current law.

The only thing preventing these cuts– and the hardship they could cause– are an elected Democratic majority in the Senate and an elected Democratic president.

Russell Brand, it is safe to say, does not need food stamps.