A Democratic congresswoman fed up with the anti-food-stamp rhetoric of her Republican colleagues took those lawmakers to task today using some high quality props.
Speaking from the house floor, Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) blasted Republicans for seeking to cut $40 billion from the federal food stamp budget while gorging themselves on "steak, vodka, and even caviar" — all without paying a dime.
To illustrate her point, Rep. Speier pulled out each food item as she named it, until she had set before her a feast fit for a Republican representative.
"In my district, California 14, we have about 4,000 families who are on food stamps, but some of my colleagues have thousands and thousands more," said Speier. "Yet, they somehow feel like crusaders, like heroes when they vote to cut food stamps. Some of these same members travel to foreign countries under the guise of official business. They dine at lavish restaurants, eating steak, vodka and even caviar. They receive money to do this. That’s right, they don’t pay out of pocket for these meals."
Speier went on to list concrete examples of Republicans getting fat off all-expenses-paid trips to foreign countries while their constituents are left behind to starve:
Let me give you a few examples: One member was given $127.41 a day for food on his trip to Argentina. He probably had a fair amount of steak.
Another member was given $3,588 for food and lodging during a six-day trip to Russia. He probably drank a fair amount of vodka and probably even had some caviar. That particular member has 21,000 food stamp recipients in his district. One of those people who is on food stamps could live a year on what this congressman spent on food and lodging for six days.
Another 20 members made a trip to Dublin, Ireland. They got $166 a day for food. These members didn’t pay a dime. They received almost $200 for a single meal only for themselves. Yet, for them the idea of helping fellow Americans spend less than $5 a day makes their skin crawl. The families of veterans, of farmers, of the disabled, of the working poor are not visible to them, not even when they are their own constituents.
Despite her powerful arguments, the House ultimately voted 217 to 210 in favor of slashing food stamp programs. The bill now moves on to the Senate.