When it comes to children, Republicans are hypocrites.
They go on and on about how “pro-life” they are, but they really only care about “humans” before they’re born. After that, they couldn’t care less.
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Case in point: the so-called “Improving Child Nutrition and Education Act of 2016,” the brainchild of Indiana Rep. Todd Rokita that would decimate a key part of the federal free lunch program.
This bill is about as mean-spirited as it gets, and to understand why, you first need to understand something about how the federal free lunch program works.
Thanks to something called “community eligibility,” students at certain schools automatically qualify to get a free lunch if 40 percent of their classmates live in poverty.
Although it may not sound like much, this is a really big deal.
Under community eligibility, high poverty schools no longer have to fill out the mountains of paperwork they’d normally have to fill out to get individual students enrolled in the free lunch program.
Everyone is enrolled, and as a result, these high poverty school are now free to focus on other problems like, you know, educating their students.
Sounds like pretty good idea, right? Not only are you keeping kids healthy, you’re also cutting a lot of red tape.
That’s something everyone can get behind.
Everyone that is, except for Representative Rokita.
Rokita’s “Improving Child Nutrition and Education Act of 2016” would raise the poverty threshold necessary to participate in community eligibility to 60 percent.
Again this might not sound like much, but in the context of how the free lunch program actually functions, it’s a really, really, big deal.
If Representative Rokita’s bill becomes law, more than 7,000 schools serving almost 3.5 million students would be affected.
Those schools would no longer get to use community eligibility to automatically enroll all students in the free lunch program and would instead have to go back to the old application system, student by student, with its mountains and mountains of paperwork.
This isn’t quite a death sentence, but for high poverty schools that are already struggling to deal with things like violence, drugs and broken homes, it’s just another thing to deal with, and an unnecessary one at that.
Obviously, there’s a certain amount of irony in the fact that Representative Rokita, a Republican, is pushing a bill that would create even more red tape.
But then again, Republicans have always been fine with “big government” if it means demonizing poor people.
So that’s not that shocking.
No, the really shocking thing here is the fact that this is the same Representative Rokita who is 100 percent on board with House Republicans’ kangaroo court investigation of Planned Parenthood.
That investigation, of course, is based on a total lie, and it’s cost taxpayers’ so much money that House Republicans have had to dip into Congress’ reserve fund to help pay for it.
You really couldn’t ask for a better example of the screwed-up priorities of so-called “pro-life” Republicans like Representative Rokita.
They’ll go out of their way to protect a mass of cells that is only philosophically a child, but once it comes to real, live, breathing children, suddenly there’s no money, suddenly cost is an issue, suddenly we need to talk about cutting spending.
And here’s the thing: Republicans don’t even really care about “unborn children” — the whole “pro-life” thing just a front.
Sure, some of them probably believe that abortion is the next Holocaust, but in the grand scheme of things, most of them know that all the outrage about Roe v. Wade is just a way to keep the suckers in line.
How do you know? Well, if Republicans really cared about kids they’d stop their blockade of Medicaid expansion.
They’d also stop supporting the war on drugs that creates the school-to-prison pipeline. They’d stop turning our schools into profit-making engines for the billionaire class; and they’d stop trying to cut Head Start, food stamps and welfare for single moms.
They’d also pass federal funding for Flint, Michigan.
The list goes on.
When it comes down to it, most Republicans don’t give a rat’s ass about US children.