In a country where more and more people are living in poverty, why is the GOP branding itself as the party that hates the poor?

Increasingly threatened by demographic changes, since November the GOP has sought to make inroads among Latinos while not losing more ground with America’s women. But their latest move will merely reinforce that they stand for punitive policies that target exactly these demographic groups, as they represent a significant segment of the growing population that is poor.

Today, Republicans in Congress failed to provide enough votes to pass a Farm Bill. House members surprised Speaker Boehner when they split over whether the steep cuts to food programs for the very poor (many of whom are children) contained in the bill were draconian enough. 62 members of Boehner’s party said they could cut even more.

More than half of the recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) are children or the elderly. Participation in the program is at an all-time high. And that rise tracks with huge gains in overall poverty:

CBPP_poverty_SNAP

source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

According to the US Census, more than one in four Hispanics in America are poor. Targeting the poor is, therefore, a dubious strategy for Hispanic outreach. Poverty rates are highest among families headed by women, particularly single women, another constituency Republicans are increasingly alienating. And the ranks of the poor are growing twice as quickly in the suburbs – home to much of the GOP base – than it is in urban areas.

With more and more Americans living in poverty, voters are increasingly likely to know people living in poverty, or to experience it themselves. So it’s difficult to understand why the GOP would engage in a public fight about how to take food off the tables of poor families with children.

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