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Linder Statement: Joint Hearing on Food Banks and Charitable Giving

November 19, 2009

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this hearing.

Republicans are all for promoting charitable giving to help those in need.  Private charity is the most effective and compassionate form of aid.  We all welcome the chance to promote more people helping one another, and look forward to hearing proposals to that effect. 

As this hearing will review, this system of private charity is under unprecedented stress.  This week brought fresh evidence why.  We learned the number of families having trouble putting food on the table soared last year, after remaining stable or even falling over much of the past decade.

As the President of Feeding America, one of our witnesses today, recently said “It’s like we are living in a Third World country.”  That was 2008. 

When similar stories are written about 2009, we can be confident of one thing — the situation will be worse.  A recent Feeding America survey of food banks found that “unemployment is the leading factor for the increased demand.” And in the past year, unemployment has risen from 6.6% to 10.2%.

So we see yet another consequence of the failure of Democrats’ so-called stimulus legislation.  Simply put, if stimulus were working and creating “jobs, jobs, jobs,” as Speaker Pelosi put it, more people would be donating to food banks instead of seeking help from them.  But instead of creating 3.5 million new jobs as promised, stimulus has resulted in 3 million more jobs lost.  Instead of keeping unemployment under 8%, it’s now 10.2%.  Since stimulus, 49 out of 50 states have seen job losses.

Americans in need want real jobs and paychecks, not handouts.  But almost 16 million currently unemployed workers are asking where are the jobs?

This grim data is despite record taxpayer assistance.  Right now a record 9 million people are collecting unemployment checks.  And a record 36 million – almost one in eight Americans – are on food stamps.  Stimulus offered more and bigger benefits, but it’s still not enough because no amount of aid can replace a steady paycheck.

But jobs with paychecks are something Democrats have been totally incapable of delivering.  In fact, beyond their failed stimulus bill, other Democrat policies are making things even worse when it comes to jobs.  Democrats’ energy, health, and tax hike policies would destroy millions more jobs – further raising the number who would turn to food banks and other charities for help. 

The simple truth is Americans need jobs.  We all want to help those in need and the charities that assist them.  We welcome today’s witnesses, including several of our colleagues, to discuss how we might better do so.  That is a task that never will go away. 

But that need has exploded due to failed Democrat policies that promised jobs but delivered more unemployment, poverty, and misery.  The simple truth is we will never be able to adequately treat the symptom of greater need at food banks until we cure the disease of rising unemployment.  And with the House considering a bill to add another quarter trillion dollars to the debt today, and Democrats planning another round of stimulus “treatment” much like the last one, the cure for the disease of high unemployment seems far away indeed.