The Grammy-nominated recording artist Moby has joined forces with MoveOn.org to put together a video about the nationwide budget fast in which activists present their reasons for fasting in brief sentences adhered to empty plates.
Thus far, 30,000 people have announced their intentions to participate in the rolling fast to protest what they call the immoral budget cuts. The movement’s official website HungerFast.org recaps how Congressman Tony Hall fasted for 22 days back in 1993 in response to budget cuts that would have devastated poor people at home and abroad. Now, Hall is fasting again in solidarity with the vulnerable who will once again be negatively impacted by austerity.
Among the cuts are a $500 million slashing of WIC, the federal health and nutrition programs for women, infants, and children. The program was estimated to serve 9.3 million people this year, according to Reuters. Over a billion dollars will be cut from HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, STD and TB prevention in addition to a $600 million reduction in the funds for community health centers. Transportation and housing and urban development also suffered a 20 percent cut, and another $194 million was cut from foreign food assistance, including food aid donations and a global meals program.
All of which is a lengthy way to say in the era of “shared sacrifice,” the poor are the ones who will suffer. The House Appropriations Committee reports that cuts to the Agriculture Department totaling $2.6 billion will be extremely detrimental to impoverished families who rely on the USDA to provide food stamps and school lunches.
In the midst of talk about the need for tough choices, certain programs managed to avoid Congress’s scalpel. Washington has allocated $205 million for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system, a program that has been criticized for its high cost and questionable effectiveness.
While some Pentagon programs were cut, there will be a $5 billion increase in several defense accounts that will bring more business to defense contractors like Raytheon, BAE Systems, Electric Boat, and General Dynamics. The budget also includes $157.8 billion for “overseas contingency operations to advance US military missions abroad,” so the Forever Wars will remain well-funded.