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Republican congressman tells constituent asking about food stamp cuts: ‘Let him not eat’

By George Chidi
Saturday, September 21, 2013 17:20 EDT
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A Facebook question from a Bismark, North Dakota resident to his congressman started off rockily yesterday, when the congressman dismissed a religious argument opposed to cuts in the federal food stamp program with a religious quote.

“2 Thessalonians 3:10 English Standard Version (ESV) 10 For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat,” Congressman Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) posted in reply Friday afternoon to an inquiry from Kevin Tengesdal, a Bismark-based actor and activist.

House Republicans narrowly passed deep cuts to the food stamp program Thursday, despite opposition from the Senate and a veto threat from President Obama. In a op-ed published on his office webpage Friday, Cramer railed against exemptions to the work requirement for food stamps, arguing that “We can generate $20 billion in savings by ending these waivers while encouraging able-bodied people to work … When did America become a country where working for benefits is no longer noble?”

The quote Cramer used in reply to Tengesdal is an admonition against Christians failing to plant seed and harvest food because anticipation of the imminent return of Christ might seemingly make that toil unnecessary.

Ironically, Cramer’s North Dakota district received $10.4 billion in agricultural subsidies from the U.S. Department of Agriculture from 2005 to 2012 — the single largest recipient of farm subsidies in the nation.

The suggestion that food stamp recipients are unwilling to work, and the suggestion that it’s acceptable to allow people to starve, is not the first gaffe for the first-term congressman. In March, Cramer apologized for his tone during an argument with Native American tribal leaders over the Violence Against Women Act.

Nor is he the first to misuse this quote. Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-TN) also cited 2 Thessalonians to explain his support for cuts to nutrition support.

 
 
 
 
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