''BREAD FOR THE WORLD'' ASKS QUESTIONS - VAN RESPONDS
Date: Tuesday, April 06 @ 15:05:33 CDT
The Lincoln chapter of the organization Bread for the World provided one of the many questionnaires to which I was obliged to respond as a candidate for public office. Their 48,000 members, "people of faith" will get my responses in their organization's publications. All of the voters in my district are entitled, I feel, to see my responses and such are presented here. I'm Bob Van Valkenburg, Candidate for Nebraska 1st Congressional seat sharing my thoughts with you.
Census Bureau data released last fall indicates that poverty in the United States continued to climb in 2002. About 1.7 million more people in the U.S. became poor as median household cash income declined by nearly $500. In all, 34.6 million people in America, including 12.1 million children, lived below the federal threshold for poverty. The Economic Research Service of the USDA has reported that in the year 2002 10.8% of U.S. households were "Food Insecure", and 3.3% were "Food Insecure with Hunger".
1. How should Congress respond to the increase in poverty in the United States?
Response: I believe the first step is reaching an accurate definition of "poverty." I do not believe the current definition used by the USDA is even close to accurate. One important step to allow some to regain dignity, is to provide jobs, public if necessary, so as to promote independence. I would not only support, but initiate legislation to do away with food stamps and other means of public support and create a debit card system which would be useable by recipients in all approved stores FOR FOOD AND ITEMS OF NECESSITY ONLY. Junk food, alcohol, cigarettes and the like could be "coded out" and the new debit card would not pay for such. Each month, the "recipient" would have his or her account credited with the new month allocations.
2. Federal nutrition programs include the School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, Summer Food Service Program, and the Food Stamp Program. The proposed federal budget for 2005 indicates very small increases in funding for these programs. In light of the increase in U.S. poverty would you support greater funding for these programs than called for in the proposed budget?
Response: If after careful study there actually does exist an increased need, I would support greater funding.
3. With the federal government running a big deficit there will most probably be pressure on Congress during the next two years to reduce discretionary spending. If elected to Congress, would you work to protect the programs that help hungry people and poor people from being cut?
Response: Frankly, I firmly believe a large numbers of the "hungry people" and "poor people" are a long way from being such. My own mother came from a household where her father did not support his family, the boys worked at a variety of jobs and my Mom took care of the younger siblings. AT NO TIME DID THEY EVER SEEK A HANDOUT FROM GOVERNMENT. I believe that kind of pride needs to be re-instilled in American families.
The United Nations has estimated that as many as 40 million children will be orphaned as a result of HIV/AIDS by the year 2010. In his State of the Union address of 2003 President Bush promised to spend a total of $15 billion between 2004 and 2008 for HIV/AIDS programs in Africa and the Caribbean. The President has also promised to increase development assistance to poor countries by $5 billion per year by 2006. This program, known as the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA), was established in the omnibus spending bill for 2004 that was passed and signed in January. A total of $2 billion was allocated for MCA and the HIV/AIDS program.
4. If elected will you support sufficient funding of the Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief to meet the goal of $15 billion by 2008?
Response: Not until I was fully briefed and informed and after real need was verified. While I am a compassionate person and believe we do have a responsibility to support the sick and hungry, the "outreach" should take place only after the needs of our country's own people are cared for.
5. Do you support the MCA program and if elected will you ensure that it is fully funded at $5 billion per year by 2006?
Response: Again, I will not support any program which I believe to be based upon phony or inflated figures or any that are purely "political pork" in nature. Label me as a compassionate conservative and most certainly not as a sucker for liberal bologna!