Washington, D.C. (Accredited Times) — In the 2016 Presidential campaign, Bernie Sanders rocked the political establishment when he declared “Medicare for All” a constitutional right for all Americans, both documented and undocumented alike.
Now progressives have a new rallying cry: “EBT for All.”
EBT — short for Electronic Benefit Transfer — is a card system that gives low-income Americans free money to buy food. Each month, money is automatically deposited into EBT card accounts in accordance with amounts approved under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Beneficiaries may use their EBT cards at any supermarket, convenience store, or other food retailer to purchase any food or non-alcoholic beverage item, including cookies, candy, cakes, soft drinks, frozen pizzas, prime rib, salmon, shrimp, or even lobster. Hot food items are excluded.
Expenditures have increased rapidly since EBT became fully implemented in June 2004. In 2005, the federal government spent $28.6 billion on the EBT program. By 2013, that number had risen to $76.1 billion. In 2016, the government spent $66.6 billion.
The District of Columbia and New Mexico lead the nation in EBT usage, with 22% of their populations receiving benefits in large part because of significant populations of disadvantaged People of Color. Mississippi (21%), West Virginia (20%), Tennessee (20%), Oregon (20%), and Louisiana (19%) follow closely behind.
Some EBT users have resorted to creative schemes for raising money for uncovered items, such as alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, and marijuana. In Newark, New York, one man purchased five cases of water at a Newark Save-A-Lot using his EBT for $18.35. He then dumped out all of the water outside and returned to the store seeking a $0.05 recycling deposit for each water bottle, which would have netted him $6 in cash.
Although EBT has been a essential lifeline for many Americans, Donald Trump shockingly has proposed replacing EBT cards with “USDA Foods Packages” for most beneficiaries. The proposal would apply to any current EBT user receiving over $90 of benefits per month — which would cover over 80% of EBT users. Beneficiaries would no longer be able to choose what they buy. Instead, they would receive a food package consisting of cereals, pasta, peanut butter, beans, shelf-stable milk, and canned fruits and vegetables. Trump’s plan would reduce the SNAP budget by $213 billion over a ten-year period.
Democrats simply cannot stand by and take this outrage. Low-income Americans have a right to food. And, no, we do not want Donald Trump choosing what we eat. While it would have been fine for Michelle Obama to tell us what to eat, Trump has a record of eating poorly, including eating two scoops of ice cream with meals instead of the usual one afforded to White House staff.
Moreover, given that Americans have a right to food, it’s clear that the Democrat Party needs to go a step further and demand “EBT for All.” Food and healthcare are constitutional rights. No child should go hungry, and everyone should be able to eat whatever they damn well please. The right to food is stated clearly in the penumbras and emanations of the living, breathing Constitution.
It’s time for “EBT for All.” Alleged “problems” like those noted at the Newark Save-A-Lot can simply be addressed by allowing EBT to cover alcohol, marijuana, heroin, crack cocaine, and other items. The supposed “problems” can further be addressed by increasing the amounts in the card so people can afford the items that they need — roughly $20,000 per month should work well.
I love my EBT card, and so will all Americans. We need “EBT for All.”