NPR’s Scott Simon, a genial interviewer, asked Rep. Adrian Smith (R-Neb.), a member of the Ways and Means Committee and an influential figure on agriculture policy, about Trump’s proposal to make vast cuts to food stamps. Smith posited that the program could be cut in ways that “do not harm the most vulnerable.”
“Well, let me ask you this bluntly: Is every American entitled to eat?” Simon queried.
Smith was stumped. “Well, they — nutrition, obviously, we know is very important. And I would hope that we can look to — ”
Simon interrupted: “Well, not just important, it’s essential for life. Is every American entitled to eat?”
Smith agreed that nutrition “is essential” but continued to ignore the question about whether Americans are entitled to eat.
Simon tried a third time: “So is every American entitled to eat, and is food stamps something that ought to be that ultimate guarantor?”
Once again, the lawmaker demurred: “I think that we know that, given the necessity of nutrition, there could be a number of ways that we could address that.”
There was more, but it all came down to this: In the United States, in 2017, a powerful member of Congress refuses to grant that Americans should be able to count on eating food.
That exchange should put in perspective the real and present danger Trump poses. His undermining of NATO, European alliances and climate-change cooperation poses grave dangers, but those are somewhat abstract. But taking away Americans’ food is very tangible, and a real possibility.
Performed by: Stephen “Swizzy” Banks, David Butterfield, Cathleen Cher, Jean Chung, Juliet Jones, Brooke Shepherd, Adrian Smith, Cass Song, Jasmine St. Clair, Amanda Suk, TinTin V., Richard Wang, and Eugene Lee Yang