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National Review editor: Parents of kids in school breakfast programs are criminals

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Parents of children who participate in school breakfast programs are “criminally negligent,” says the Washington editor of the conservative National Review.

Kate O’Beirne, who also appears as a pundit on MSNBC, made the comment at a Republican strategy session she moderated at the Hudson Institute Friday.

“My question is what poor excuse for a parent can’t rustle up a bowl of cereal and a banana?” O’Beirne asked. “I just don’t get why millions of school children qualify for school breakfasts unless we have a major wide spread problem with child neglect.”

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She continued, “If that’s how many parents are incapable of pulling together a bowl of cereal and a banana, then we have problems that are way bigger than — that problem can’t be solved with a school breakfast, because we have parents who are just criminally … criminally negligent with respect to raising children.”

O’Beirne’s comments come even as statistical evidence mounts that more and more Americans are struggling to eke out a living.

Last month, the US Census Bureau reported that the number of people living in poverty jumped to 14.3 percent of the population in 2009 — a 15-year high, and up from 12.5 percent two years earlier. That means approximately 2.5 million people have fallen into poverty since the recession began.

The poverty rate last declined in 2000, and has been climbing since.

O’Beirne’s comments go “far beyond the sacred right-wing cow of personal responsibility” and amount to “outright cruelty,” argues the Crooks and Liars blog, which first flagged the comments.

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These pigs are out there shouting to give zillionaires a fat year-end bonus and extend it for a couple of years while sticking it to poor people who rely on programs like the school lunch and breakfast program to survive….

Maybe she should shut up and listen to what’s going on around her for a change. If she did, she might not, miss the fact that food banks are struggling to meet demand as more and more families struggle to keep roofs over their heads, sacrificing other necessities like food and clothing. Since 2006, the need for some form of assistance has tripled. Tripled.

O’Beirne joins a growing chorus of conservative commentators who have taken exception with the federal government’s expansions to school meal programs in the wake of the recession.

Fox News in October introduced a segment on a new school dinner program in Washington, DC, by asking if it would “destroy American families.”

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In June, talk show host Rush Limbaugh responded to a report that 16 million children would go hungry over the summer holidays once school meals stopped by suggesting children check their refrigerator, and, failing that, a nearby McDonald’s. Then Limbaugh added:

There’s another place if none of these options work to find food; there’s always the neighborhood dumpster. Now, you might find competition with homeless people there, but there are videos that have been produced to show you how to healthfully dine and how to dumpster dive and survive until school kicks back up in August.

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O’Beirne currently appears on MSNBC’s Hardball as a pundit, and has appeared on CNN’s Crossfire and PBS’ NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.

This video was broadcast on CSPAN, Friday, Dec. 3, 2010, and was uploaded to the Web by Crooks and Liars.

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