Even After Historic Increase in U.S. Poverty Rate, Extreme Politicians Are Willing to Shut Down the Government to Secure Cuts to Programs That Keep Women and Families Fed
Our country has just experienced the largest single-year increase in poverty rates in over five decades.
The U.S. Census Bureau recently released data revealing that Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) poverty rates for women and girls increased from 7.9% in 2021 to 12.8% in 2022.
And yet, just 36 hours away from a government shutdown, hardliners in Congress are making clear they want more, more, and yes, more cuts to the critical programs and benefits women and children depend on…
This type of backroom negotiation—where women and families are viewed as bargaining chips, rather than people—has happened before. Most recently, as a result of negotiations to raise the debt ceiling back in June, Congress expanded time limits on who could receive food assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and imposed spending limits that put the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) at a special risk of a funding shortfall.
In their funding proposals for the next fiscal year, extremists in the House proposed further restrictions that would kick even more people off SNAP, and funding that is insufficient to make sure that all eligible people can be served by WIC. (This proposal was so extreme that it failed a vote before the full House last night).
These programs help millions of families put food on the table, and are critical in providing women, LGBTQIA+ people, and their families with the nutrition assistance needed to support their health and well-being. They reduce food insecurity, free up money in family budgets for other essential costs like medical care, and lead to improved health, educational outcomes, and economic sufficiency for families.
Yet extremists are insisting on across-the-board spending cuts to SNAP and WIC, and other critical programs and supports, to keep the government funded.
So, to recap: Some policymakers have responded to a historic increase in poverty not by renewing or expanding crucial programs and benefits that have been proven to support families, but by insisting on additional restrictions and spending cuts. Congress is headed in the wrong direction when it comes to supporting the ability of women and families to survive, and thrive, in the current circumstances.
SNAP, WIC, and other key programs are not just numbers in a budget; they make a real difference in the lives of women and families. As they navigate the ongoing stalemate, policymakers’ focus should be on investing in women and families, not cutting back on programs and benefits that lift millions out of poverty every year.