newsfamily advocacy group republicans strategy on debt ceiling dangerous will backfire

Family advocacy group: Republicans’ strategy on debt ceiling ‘dangerous, will backfire’

comparing baby formula at store
(© Africa Studio –

Parents and families across the United States are struggling to afford food amid rising prices and reduced nutrition assistance, according to a new report from a family advocacy group. ParentsTogether Action has more than 3 million members.

Between May 17-18, ParentsTogether Action surveyed nearly 500 low- and middle-income families, specifically investigating how parents who relied on WIC (the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children) nutritional assistance benefits are faring and the role that the benefits play in helping them afford enough food to feed themselves and their children.

The survey comes as Republicans in Congress have laid out plans to make significant cuts to WIC and SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) programs as part of their debt ceiling deal.

WIC is a program of the USDA which aims to safeguard the health of pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding women and children up to age five by providing nutritious food and formula, breastfeeding support and healthcare referrals. Currently, WIC provides financial and nutritional assistance for 53 percent of all infants born in the United States.

Estimates forecast that budget cuts advocated for by House Republicans would result in as many as 1.7 million women, infants and children losing food, formula and breastfeeding assistance under WIC.

“Speaker McCarthy and Congressional Republicans doubled down on threatening default in order to extract a wish list of extreme, unrelated policies that will hurt hard-working families. The legislation Congressional Republicans have drafted is designed to avoid leveling with the American people about how these cuts would impact their lives,” said Shalanda Young, Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

The survey revealed that:

  • 64 percent of WIC recipients would have been unable to afford necessary formula to feed their infants without the program
  • 52 percent of WIC recipients would have been unable to afford enough food for themselves
  • 75 percent of WIC recipients said the program helped them afford nutritious foods that they would not have otherwise been able to purchase
  • 35 percent of WIC recipients said they would not have had the breastfeeding support necessary to breastfeed their children

Full survey results are available online.

“Republicans’ proposed budget illustrates just how far they’re willing to go to protect billionaires and corporations. Their cruel plan to take WIC away from 1.7 million pregnant or postpartum parents and their babies – leaving countless infants without the formula they need to survive and taking away nutritious food from breastfeeding mothers – is not going unnoticed,” said Ailen Arreaza, Executive Director of ParentsTogether. “Republicans are holding parents, children and grandparents hostage by threatening to default on our debt if they don’t get the budget cuts they’re demanding. It’s already hard enough for parents to make ends meet and now they’re being put at the center of these dangerous political games. Make no mistake – this strategy will backfire.”

Parents said that their biggest challenges were:

  • affording food (64 percent)
  • paying for essential supplies like diapers, formula and period products (54 percent)
  • paying utilities (54 percent)
  • housing (44 percent)

The combination of lost benefits and rising prices has meant that 70 percent of parents report they can no longer save for the future, 64 percent have had to spend savings or other money saved for emergencies and 42 percent can no longer afford enough food for their families.

According to the survey, food prices, coupled with decreased benefits, are driving increased food insecurity.

Large percentages of parents say they have had to either buy less expensive food (e.g. fewer fruits or vegetables) (67 percent)  or switch food brands (63 percent). Almost half of those surveyed said they have had to use food banks and similar services (49 percent) and 37 percent reported having skipped meals so that their children can eat.

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Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.