WIC fiasco shows how politics can hurt people

October 10, 2013 

The WIC program, a federally funded and critically needed assistance plan for poor women with infants and children under 5, has been going since 1972 and is a literal lifesaver for many. It helps young mothers with breastfeeding and provides nutrition for the poorest families among us, those below the poverty line.

In North Carolina, about 264,000 people are helped by the program, paid for by $205 million in federal dollars.

But WIC recipients are about to become casualties of the federal shutdown. The state is running out of the money to fund it, and it won’t be the only such program affected.

So thanks to the standoff in Congress, there will be even more hunger and poor nutrition and sickness in North Carolina and elsewhere. While House Speaker John Boehner, scared of the tea party extremists in his caucus, tries to bargain President Obama out of his health care reform plan, people are going to go hungry. People are going to suffer.

More and more Americans, in need of worthy federal programs that ultimately affect millions, will feel the pain of Boehner’s stubborn stand and pay the price for his political power play.

The pause in the WIC program is a truly astonishing development. Even if Congress takes some sort of emergency action or even if state officials try to step in somehow, the pain of the shutdown has been clearly illustrated.

Yes, all those who want to believe this is some petty standoff, some political game, some philosophical dispute with no consequences will soon know better. One after another, the beneficiaries of government assistance will feel what happens when partisan politicians, insulated by the conversations they have only with those who agree with them, run amok in their duties.

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