February 25th, 2009
The mayor’s controversial refusal to extend food stamp benefits to able-bodied adults who do not work came in for more attack today — this time on the Times’
Calling Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s policy “cramped,” the paper said his decision not to take advantage of a provision in the economic stimulus package providing such benefits beyond the city’s three-month limit would deprive the city of the “instant jolt to the economy” that food stamps provide. Citing a calculation by Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum, the editorial said the mayor’s stand could cost the city million of dollars in money from Washington.
The administration has said the mayor’s position on food stamps simply reaffirms his stand that work is the best way to escape poverty.
The Daily News, for one, agrees. Limiting these adults to three months of the benefits makes sense, the paper said in an
editorial last week. “We’re not talking about mothers with children or about the disabled. We’re talking about fully able adults who are on their own, without dependents. They get three months of idleness. Then, quite modestly, they need only search for employment,” the paper said, adding that “no one is going hungry because” of the rules.
But critics counter that the jobs these people fill — particularly in tough economic times — are “make work” positions that may do little more than cost the city money. ““They are wasting city funds to force people to do sometimes ‘make-work’ jobs in order to get fully funded federal benefits,” Joel Berg, the executive director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, has said.
Writing in The Nation, Richard Kim took a less nuanced view. “Bloomberg’s decision is an act of cruel sadism, withholding food (food!) from thousands of hungry mouths to make an ideological point about work (at fake jobs that don’t exist).” Comparing Bloomberg’s policy on food to his plan announced last week to help out-of-work Wall Street execs, Kim continued, “There you have a succinct encapsulation of Mike Bloomberg’s priorities. Poor, hungry New Yorkers will be stripped of food stamps that the federal government says is both necessary and good stimulus, while the bollocks-for-brains bankers who got us into this mess will get office space and taxpayer moolah.”By Gail Robinson on February 25, 2009, 2:55 pm
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