Rep. DelBene eating on food stamp budget for week

One of the newest members of the Millionaire Club in Congress is getting an idea this week of what it is like to be poor in America.

Democratic Congresswoman Suzan DelBene

Democratic Congresswoman Suzan DelBene

One of the newest members of the Millionaire Club in Congress is getting an idea this week of what it is like to be poor in America.

Freshman Democratic Congresswoman Suzan DelBene is dining on a food stamp-sized budget, which the federal government calculates is about $4.50 a day or $30 a week per person.

It’s meant feasting on oatmeal, mac ‘n’ cheese and PB&J sandwiches. No Copper River salmon, filet mignon or even a Portobello omelet.

It’s a menu she has not survived on since college when she and friends pooled resources to get the most out of their limited food budgets. “Macaroni was a staple,” she said.

It isn’t today for DelBene, a former Microsoft exec who is married to a current Microsoft exec and living in a Medina home likely larger than most soup kitchens and most definitely stocked with a greater variety of food.

She’s smart enough to know that, as a Have test-driving the lifestyle of a Have-Not, she’ll invite ridicule from online commenters and skewering by political foes.

They may deem it a cheap stunt. She figures she can’t raise awareness about hurdles encountered by the 1.1 million people on food stamps in Washington — and 47 million nationwide — until facing them herself, even if just for seven days. Twenty-six other Democrats in the House of Representatives are doing the same thing this month.

“This is about starting a conversation,” DelBene said. “While we’re doing this for a week many families are doing this every day.”

They’re doing it now because the U.S. House of Representatives is nearing action on a 10-year farm bill of which the largest single chunk of dollars will go to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) from which food stamps are distributed.

A vote originally planned for Thursday is likely to get postponed because of opposition to House Republicans’ desire to cut funding for food stamps by $2 billion a year; last year the nation spent $78.4 billion on the program

That’s apparently too much for liberal Democrats worried it will leave millions of poor families with less assistance and too little for conservative Republicans who think too much will still be spent on the program.

President Barack Obama weighed in earlier this week threatening to veto the House version if it reached his desk with the food stamp cut intact. Meanwhile, the Democrat-controlled Senate pared $400 million a year from SNAP in the version of the farm bill it passed. If the House passes a bill, the two chambers will need to reconcile their differences.

Though DelBene is opposing the cut to food stamps, she could wind up voting for the bill because of other items contained in the 629-page legislation. She did vote for it as a member of the House Agriculture Committee.

“There are definitely good pieces,” she said.

For example, it preserves a work training program for food stamp recipients, which she requested. There also are provisions to help berry growers, dairy farmers and producers of specialty crops which populate her 1st Congressional District.

It’s a decision she’s mulling over with leftover pasta, peanut butter and water.

That’s about all she can afford this week.

Political reporter Jerry Cornfield’s blog, The Petri Dish, is at www.heraldnet.com. The Everett Daily Herald is owned by Sound Publishing. Contact him at 360-352-8623 or jcornfield@heraldnet.com.

 


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@kirklandreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.kirklandreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in Opinion

Don C. Brunell is a business analyst, writer and columnist. He recently retired as president of the Association of Washington Business, the state’s oldest and largest business organization, and now lives in Vancouver. He can be contacted at thebrunells@msn.com.
Silver lining from Washington’s brutal heat wave | Brunell

How about some good news coming out of our record-breaking (extreme) heat… Continue reading

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
Cities can help solve the homelessness challenge | Roegner

Each one of the cities outside Seattle faces the same problems Seattle… Continue reading

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
Politics of homelessness have taken a nasty turn | Roegner

A common stereotype is that homeless people are all hooked on drugs… Continue reading

Cartoon by Frank Shiers
Editorial: Lifting restrictions doen’t mean pandemic is over

We have work to do to increase the number of vaccinations.

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
Races for Congress will include a few twists | Roegner

A few weeks ago, we looked at local races for King County… Continue reading

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
Thoughts and prayers just aren’t enough | Roegner

The violence must stop. And our elected officials have the ability to stop it.

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
City and school board races highlight local elections | Roegner

A record 646 candidates in King County cities have filed for local offices.

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
King County Council elections could be more exciting this fall | Roegner

In most King County election races, the incumbent has all of the… Continue reading

Spring Chinook Salmon. Photo courtesy Michael Humling, US Fish & Wildlife Service
Editorial: Act now to save salmon, regardless of dams’ fate

With a plan to remove dams on the Snake River shelved, leaders must commit to broader-based actions.

Cartoon by Frank Shiers
Editorial: Parents have decision to make on vaccinating kids

With one vaccine now approved for kids 12 and older, parents shouldn’t wait for a school requirement.

Don C. Brunell is a business analyst, writer and columnist. He recently retired as president of the Association of Washington Business, the state’s oldest and largest business organization, and now lives in Vancouver. He can be contacted at thebrunells@msn.com.
Rethinking a natural gas ban in Washington state | Brunell

Sometimes being first isn’t good. Such is the case with legislation making… Continue reading