Voice of the People: Federal Food Benefit Cut Is The Latest Shot In The War Against The Working Poor

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Voice of the People by James J. Devineby James J. Devine

If the 858,000 New Jerseyans who are going to lose part of their federal food assistance benefits when a temporary boost to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program expires in November were to cast a ballot against Republican Gov. Chris Christie, then the pompous bully would lose in a landslide.

The Obama administration and some members of Congress have proposed delaying or cancelling the November 1 cut, but the Republican Congress has taken no action on these proposals. Moreover, some in Congress have called for deep cuts in SNAP on top of the scheduled cut. The House of Representatives, which recently defeated legislation that would have cut $20 billion from SNAP – eliminating food assistance for nearly 2 million people – could reconsider these or even deeper cuts in the coming weeks.

McDonalds workers making an average $8.25 an hour should be able to live on their meager wages, if they simply plan for how to save and spend money. For example, workers who knock off such expensive habits as eating or renting a place to live can easily to get by on their $17,160 annual income.

Those who cannot afford to give up such luxuries might take on a second job to cover the difference, at least that is what one gathers according to a website provided to minimum wage workers by the burger company.

It would take the average McDonalds employee one million hours of work to earn as much money as the company’s CEO. There are only 8,760 hours in an entire year (24 hours times 365 days) so if one worked every hour of every day without sleep that would take 114 years…

About one in four Americans will be working in a low-wage job that pays wages equal to or below the poverty line over the next decade, according to a study by the Economic Policy Institute.

Low wages don’t just hurt underpaid employees: they hurt those workers’ children too, as a recent report from the Pew Research Center showed. People who have almost no money spend it all, so they do contribute to the economy.

Common sense tells us that if they had a little more, they would spend that too.

The federal minimum wage would need to be raised by more than $3 an hour to match the buying power it had in 1968, and overall wages in the U.S. have been virtually stagnant for decades, even as pay for chief executives has risen exponentially.

If voters approve the increase, the lowest paid workers would see their pay rise from $7.25 an hour to $8.25 and automatic cost-of-living increases every year would began in September 2014. President Obama proposed increasing the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $9.

Chief executives at the 50 companies employing the largest number of low-wage workers made an average of $9.4 million last year. CEOs now make an average of 380 times as much as the average worker.

Giving American workers what they were earning in 1968 would mean raising the minimum wage to $11 an hour and the richest, most powerful nation on earth can afford it.

Republican Gov. Chris Christie is opposed to the minimum wage increase, which he vetoed but will get a second chance with New Jersey voters who turn out the same day he is on the ballot, Nov. 5.


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