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Some seniors are turning to canned food to replace Meals on Wheels sequester cuts
With last week's passage of legislation sparing air travelers from the impacts of sequestration, we now have a final verdict on what happens with government-by-hostage-crisis: The less powerful hostages are the ones who get shot. Take, for example, seniors who depend on Meals on Wheels.
[William] McCormick is 70 years old and living alone in a one-bedroom apartment in a six-story building. Only about 40 of the building's 144 units are occupied. The parking lots are barren and the hallways are dingy with torn carpets. McCormick considers the building "spooky."
He's lived here since 2005, and for most of that time he has benefited from food charity every week day -- not left at his door anonymously, but brought to him by Meals On Wheels volunteers. Since 1972 the Administration on Aging has provided federal funding for senior nutrition, and today volunteers from some 5,000 Meals On Wheels affiliates across the country distribute a million meals a day.
But now, thanks to the sequester, funding for Meals on Wheels has been cut. The local program that serves McCormick has had it's budget reduced by about 10 percent, forcing the program to drop from serving 650 seniors to 600 and creating a waiting list for the first time. McCormick is among those who no longer receive meals:
After he learned about the cuts on the news, McCormick thought long and hard about whether he really needed the meals. He's got no car, and can't walk long distances, but sometimes he can get a ride to the grocery store and the food pantry, and he's got a small stockpile of canned goods sitting on a wooden desk in his living room.
I'm sure Ayn Rand Paul Ryan salutes McCormick and thinks he's very lucky to be able to eat every meal from a can (assuming he manages to get a ride to the store and can afford those cans of food), but forcing the William McCormicks of the world to make decisions like this while instantly sparing air travelers from flight delays is no way to run a country.
There's no good reason that government dysfunction should be allowed to create unnecessary flight delays, but there's also no good reason that people McCormick and the many others who are needlessly suffering right now should be forced to endure cuts to programs like Meals on Wheels. But that's exactly what's happening, and it's happening because they don't have power and their government doesn't care about them. The only thing that can stop this is for the public to elect leaders who want to repeal the sequester.
Unfortunately, other than some progressive Democrats in the House and Senate, no politicians are supporting repeal—not even the president. Now that Congress has put the lie to the central premise of sequestration—that everybody would be screwed equally, creating the political will to replace it with a different form of austerity—that should change. It's time for Democrats to embrace repeal. The hostage taking must end.
Originally posted to The Jed Report on Mon Apr 29, 2013 at 08:01 AM PDT.