COLUMN: Steve King doesn’t belong in Congress

Rep. Steve King (R-IA), a man seemingly more bent on being a sensationalizing showman than an intelligent policymaker, unveiled a belligerently heinous plan for funding President Donald Trump’s border wall last Thursday in a televised CNN interview.

Apparently, the Congressman intends to funnel the intended $1.6 billion, as well an additional $5 billion, from the budgets of Planned Parenthood and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to this inevitably doomed construction project.

As he elaborated on his proposal, King proved he’s not the least bit fit to serve as a member of Congress due to his unapologetic ignorance and disregard for practicality.

“We’ve got to put America back to work and this administration will do it,” King lauded.

But, unsurprisingly, there’s nothing for this administration to do. Unemployment dipped to 4.3 percent in May of this year, the lowest it’d been in over a decade, and only rose slightly to 4.4 percent last month, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In fact, current Chairman of the Federal Reserve Janet Yellen believed the United States was nearing full employment in January, back when the unemployment rate was still as high as 4.7 percent, according to The Economist.

America is working.

Near the conclusion of the interview, King complained that SNAP enrollment had reached 47 million people.

When asked if he thought those people didn’t need the benefits provided by SNAP, King replied, “Oh, I’m sure that all of them didn’t need it.”

The sentiments expressed by King indicate a dangerously uninformed perspective of SNAP and its enrollees that should prohibit him from defunding a program he seems to know nothing about.

According to the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the average SNAP household size was only 2.1 in 2015.

To be eligible for SNAP, your gross household income must be at or below 130 percent of the poverty line. And, after a series of eligible deductions, your net household income must be at or below 100 percent of the poverty line.

For a household of two, that’s a gross annual income of $20,832 and a net income of $16,020.

Those aren’t guidelines. Those are strictly enforced standards.

It should worry King tremendously that so many people live in households with net annual incomes at or below the poverty line.

And, for the record, 55 percent of SNAP households with children have earned income—meaning at least one member of the 
household is currently 
working. That number rises to nearly 60 percent for households with children and an elderly, non-disabled adult, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Not only is America working but SNAP households are, too.

So instead of making it more difficult for these people to eat, we should bring the number of SNAP enrollees down by raising incomes.

A number of policy initiatives could help realize that goal, such as establishing a universal basic income.

One of the eligibility requirements for SNAP includes a deduction for certain medical expenses. With a single-payer health care system, enrollees wouldn’t have nearly as many costs to deduct and would, thus, probably be ineligible for SNAP, bringing the total enrollment down.

But it seems King isn’t interested in practical solutions. It seems he’s only interested in getting his name in the papers.

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