Posted by guest blogger Nathalie Baptiste.
What is the American dream? Is it owning a house and having a job you love? Perhaps you want to be able to have children and send them off to school? Well, this year at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, members of the Republican Party are promising to help you make your dreams come true. On Thursday morning, CPAC—an annual gathering at which a broad range of right-wing constituencies are represented—officially started as presidential hopefuls, political pundits, conservative activists and college students filled the Gaylord National Convention Center at National Harbor, Maryland, just outside of the nation’s capital.
Because both political parties go through great lengths to win over the powerhouse voting bloc—millenials—it was no surprised that “Reclaiming the American Dream: Millennials Look Toward Their Future” was on the agenda. And who better to sit on that panel than U.S. Representative Mia Love of Utah?
Love never misses a chance to remind people about her parents’ humble beginnings. Jean and Mary Bordeaux immigrated to the U.S. from Haiti, and Love has crafted a touching narrative about her parents’ arrival in this country with only $10 to their name. But they still managed, as she tells it, to pull themselves up by their bootstraps; it’s the Republican fairytale.
Despite having their salaries paid by tax dollars, Republican politicians are rarely shy about expressing some hatred of the government, and Mia Love is no exception. Presenting government as nothing more than a hindrance to lives of Americans, Love explained to the CPAC audience that “the American people will rise to the occasion on their own. No nanny state needed, no big government required.”
“We must advance the conservative principles that have lifted more people out of poverty and fueled more freedom and driven more dreams than any set of principles in the history of world,” Love said. Of course, if conservative policies are supposed to help Americans achieve the dream that she speaks so fondly of—I’ve got a lot of questions.
In 2013, Frank Lucas sponsored the FARM bill that would have cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by $21 billion over the next 10 years. Nearly 2 million people, comprising mostly working families with children and the elderly, would have lost their food assistance.
The bill failed in the House, though—Democrats thought the cuts were too deep while Tea Party Republicans believed they didn’t go far enough. (Two million hungry people are just not enough.) The farm bill eventually passed in 2014 with “modest” cuts of only $9 billion.
How exactly does cutting food assistance for millions of food insecure Americans lift them out of poverty?
Not only do conservative policies send kids to school hungry, they send them to schools that routinely face budget cuts. On February 5, Republican Governor of Kansas, Sam Brownback, announced cuts to the education budget to the tune of $44.5 million dollars. Nothing says “helping children succeed” like forcing their schools to scrape for resources.
No Republican star missed their chance to criticize Obamacare. Referencing the supposed failure of the Affordable Care Act, Mia Love asked the audience to “imagine a healthcare system that is centered on service and measured by outcomes. Not dictated by Washington.” If conservatives have it their way, the Supreme Court will rule in their favor in the King v. Burwell case. According to Joshua Green, writing at Bloomberg News:
If the plaintiffs prevail, millions of people in 34 states who bought insurance on federal exchanges would suddenly lose the subsidies that make it affordable. Consequently, most would lose their coverage.
Millions of people will lose their health insurance…making them one medical emergency away from bankruptcy—or worse, death. The American dream indeed!