Senate Kills Summer EBT

“Government is not the solution to the problem; government is the problem.” So proclaimed Ronald Reagan in his First Inaugural Address more than forty years ago. Nevertheless many Republicans today support government solutions to social problems.

I wrote last week about a federal program to deliver EBT cards to families which qualify for free or reduced school lunches. The program was part of a massive budget for the Welfare Division of the Idaho Dept. of Health and Welfare. It passed out of JFAC despite Rep. Josh Tanner making a substitute motion to present a much slimmer budget.

Today it reached the Senate floor. Conservatives debated against the bill, warning about socialism and building dependence upon government handouts. Democrats debated for it, saying it was necessary to make sure tens of thousands of Idaho children had enough to eat. The question was, which way would the moderate Republicans fall?

Sen. Ben Adams has the privilege of voting first in the Senate due to his last name, and he took advantage of it to compare the summer EBT program to Soviet ration cards in explaining his vote. Majority Leader Sen. Kelly Anthon followed with a no vote as well, which was a bellwether as to how the rest the chamber would go. It failed 10-25 and will be returned to JFAC where the summer EBT program will be stripped from the IDHW budget.

This small victory is a reminder that nothing is inevitable. The forces of socialism and big government are not omnipotent, and those of us who believe in fiscal conservatism and self reliance are not helpless. All those letters, emails, and phone calls to your legislators actually matter. Electing good people who can lead on controversial issues matters.

Sen. Glenneda Zuiderveld summed up the debate well: “Government was never meant to be a charity.” Rolling back entitlements and welfare programs is difficult, but not impossible. We can return our state government to its proper role, but it’s going to take a lot of time and hard work. Take a moment to be inspired by today’s vote and know that our work is not in vain.

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