Legal Momentum mourns the death of Nobel prize winner Nelson Mandela, former President of South Africa, political prisoner, and an icon of leadership to many because of his struggles to bring about reconciliation in his own strife torn nation, and around the world. Mandela’s release from prison in 1990, and ascent to the presidency of South Africa four years later marked a turning point not only in the struggle of his nation to free itself from the grip of apartheid, but also in the aspirations of the world to see what true reconciliation could look like.
Our nation, too, stands at a crossroads. Last week, Legal Momentum's Lisalyn Jacobs had the privilege of sitting in the audience as President Obama shared his concerns about the growing economic divide in this country and what it portends if not righted. Even as he did so, and called on the Congress to rethink its proposals to make further damaging cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance program (SNAP), Senate Democrats were close to approving an additional $4-5 billion in cuts to that program in addition to the $4 billion approved in their version of the Farm bill passed last June. You cannot be committed to “[m]aking sure our economy works for every working American,” and concerned about righting an “economy that’s become profoundly unequal, and families that are more insecure,” and contemplate signing a farm bill that’s laden with subsidies for farmers, while simultaneously doing so much damage to working Americans with huge and crippling cuts to the SNAP program.
As President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela struggled to unite disparate factions around his vision for a united and reconciled nation. The scale here in the U.S. is smaller, perhaps, but the challenge is as great. Last Wednesday, President Obama spoke of the need for the government not to stand on the sidelines, but rather to “reflect our deepest values and commitments.” Building on his commitment to bridging the widening economic rift in this country, we call on the President to safeguard the SNAP program and preserve its role in protecting families from greater food insecurity. We urge him to veto any farm bill that comes before him with cuts exceeding those passed by the Senate last summer. As we head into the winter, the SNAP program has already been hit with cuts that took effect last month as a result of the end of temporary increases mandated by the 2009 stimulus law. To pile on an additional $4-5 billion in cuts is to demand far too much from those that have the least. The President must act now, and issue a veto threat to ensure that the outcome of the farm bill conference does not visit upon working poor Americans further inequitable cuts.
To read the press release, click h.