Las Vegas Sun

August 21, 2019

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GUEST COLUMN:

Budget cuts can run deep for families in need

The year was 1991. I knew something was amiss the second I stepped into the department store where I worked at the time. My co-worker Elaine, usually mild-mannered, was infuriated as she read the corporate memo spitting out from the printer: The store would be shutting its doors forever in two weeks.

I had already started the job-seeking process, seeing that business was sluggish, but this news put me into survival mode.

I was a single mother with a 6-year-old daughter, living paycheck to paycheck. So I applied immediately for food stamps to help my daughter and me make ends meet. Soon, I received help from the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program and unemployment checks. Within three months, I found a job and left the SNAP program.

I was back on my feet. Food stamps had done their job.

Unfortunately, President Donald Trump recently revealed he wants to cut this public assistance program from 3.1 million recipients.

What Trump and his fans don’t see is there would be other types of cuts if Trump’s proposal becomes a reality. A single parent might be cornered into cutting a meal or two per day. Another recipient may be forced to cut spending on gasoline in order to purchase enough groceries for the week for her family. An owner of a small-town grocery store would be forced to cut hours from his payroll as a result of losing SNAP customers.

A widowed grandmother may be forced to trim spending on medication. Parents may have to cut Internet service, a resource their children need for writing school reports or conducting research projects. A father may be forced to pick up an extra part-time job, cutting valuable time with his family. Cutting funding from SNAP would have costs that are measured in more ways than dollars.

The way I look at it, a national budget is a moral document. How a country allots funding says a lot about its collective moral compass. A White House willing to block over 3 million human beings from receiving temporary assistance says a lot about what this administration values.

I implore any compassionate conservative to stand up to Trump and offer an alternative for balancing the budget, such as cutting government subsidies to corporations or blocking companies from stashing profits overseas. Targeting struggling families is not the answer.

It has been almost 30 years since SNAP kept my daughter and me afloat after the store I worked at closed its doors. Luckily, the government didn’t slam its doors on us.

If the Trump administration has its way, 3.1 million people will be thrown into economic peril. That is immoral and is not the America that I remember.

Rosa Mendoza, the daughter of Mexican immigrants, is a lifelong Las Vegas resident, an educator, and community activist.