Erika Eichelberger

Erika Eichelberger

Reporter

Erika Eichelberger is a reporter in Mother Jones' Washington bureau. She has also written for The NationThe Brooklyn Rail, and TomDispatch. Email her at eeichelberger [at] motherjones [dot] com. 

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GOP Food Stamp Cuts Would Kick 170,000 Vets Out of the Program

| Mon Nov. 11, 2013 1:26 PM EST

Republicans will salute America's veterans Monday, while simultaneously trying to deny them benefits. In addition to reducing housing aid, and denying health care to vets, the GOP is also trying to remove thousands of vets from the food stamp program, known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

At least 900,000 veterans rely on SNAP. The House Republican version of the farm bill, the five-year piece of legislation that funds nutrition and agriculture provisions, would slash funding for the food stamps program by nearly $40 billion and boot 2.8 million people off the program next year. That includes 170,000 veterans, who would be removed through a provision in the bill that would eliminate food stamps eligibility for non-elderly jobless adults who can't find work or an opening in a job training program.

CHARTS: The Hidden Benefits of Food Stamps.

Veterans returning home from service have more trouble finding work than other folks, and rely more heavily on the food stamp program. The unemployment rate for recent veterans—those who have served in the past decade—is about 10 percent, almost 3 points above the national unemployment rate. War-related disabilities are one reason why. About a quarter of recent veterans reported service-related disabilities in 2011. Households that have a disabled veteran who is unable to work are twice as likely to lack access to sufficient food than households without a disabled service member, according to the nonprofit Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

This month, SNAP funding was reduced by $5 billion as extra stimulus money for the program expired. While the Senate will never approve the $40 billion in further cuts to the food stamps program that House Republicans want, deeper cuts are pretty much inevitable. The two chambers are in the middle of negotiating a final version of the farm bill, which will contain food stamp reductions somewhere in between the $4 billion level the Senate wants and the level the Republicans want.

Whatever the final number, veterans will likely feel the pinch.

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October Jobs Report: Economy Improving Despite GOP

| Fri Nov. 8, 2013 12:26 PM EST

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (D-Va.), Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Tex.), and Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio.) during the shutdown.

The economy added 204,000 jobs in October, according to jobs numbers released Friday by the Labor Department, despite the two-week government shutdown that put thousands temporarily out of work, and which economists predicted would dampen last month's numbers. The jobs gain is about twice as many as expected. Employment numbers for August and September were also revised upwards by a total of 60,000 jobs, signaling the economy is strengthening, despite Republican efforts to tank it through budget cuts, shutdowns and default scares.

Even though jobs were added, the unemployment rate increased a tenth of a percentage point to 7.3 percent. This is because of the way job growth is tallied. As Catherine Rampell explained at the New York Times last month:

The jobs report is based on two different surveys—one of households, and one of employers—and it turns out that furloughed federal government workers will be treated as unemployed in the first survey but employed in the second. In other words, the temporary layoff of federal workers will probably increase the unemployment rate, but not (at least directly) depress the payroll job growth numbers.

The 4 Most Hypocritical Provisions In the GOP Farm Bill

| Thu Nov. 7, 2013 10:52 AM EST

The House and Senate are in the middle of ironing out the differences between their two separate versions of the farm bill, the $1 trillion piece of legislation that funds agriculture and nutrition programs. The House GOP is fighting to maintain the $40 billion in cuts its bill makes to the food stamp program—a move that would force 4 million low-income people off food aid—while claiming the moral high ground. And there are other hypocritical provisions in the House Republicans' farm bill. Here are four:

1. The GOP wants to balance the budget, unless it means taking money from the rich. The House Republicans' farm bill would cut the deficit by some $53 billion, $40 billion of which comes from gutting the food stamp program, known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. If Republicans get their way, 1.7 million unemployed adults who make about $2,500 a year and 2.1 million low-income working families and elderly people would be kicked off the program next year. Some 210,000 kids would lose school lunches.

Meanwhile, the House bill doles out the most generous farm subsidies in history, most of which go to the wealthiest farmers and agribusiness. And while the Senate farm bill fully eliminates the $5 billion direct payment program, which pays farmers who don't grow anything, the House bill retains direct payments to cotton farmers for two years, a move that is projected to cost $823 million. Even safety-net cutter extraordinaire, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) admitted to the New York Times in July, "Right now, the federal government favors the big guy over the little guy."

If the GOP Repeals Obamacare, 137 Million Americans Could Get Cancellation Notices

| Tue Nov. 5, 2013 7:00 AM EST

The GOP has gleefully jumped on media reports about Americans having their health insurance plans nixed because of Obamacare. "Obama lied. My health plan died," conservative blogger Michelle Malkin wrote in September, referring to President Barack Obama's promise that people who liked their health insurance plans could keep them. But how many Americans' health plans would receive some form of cancellation notice if GOP hardliners got their wish and repealed Obamacare? Probably at least 137 million.

Let's do the math. Most of the 49 million Americans who were uninsured before the Affordable Care Act will now be eligible to obtain health coverage—either through the expansion of Medicaid or through federal subsidies they can use to purchase insurance on the cheap through the exchanges. From that number, subtract the 30 million or so low-income people who will not sign up for coverage, either because they can't afford it, or they live in one of the 24 states where Republican governors decided not to expand Medicaid. That takes us down to 19 million uninsured Americans whose coverage would disappear if Republicans repeal Obamacare.

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