Both the April 16 editorial “The safety net is not the problem” and Catherine Rampell’s April 17 op-ed, “Trump and the GOP: We the ’80s,” posited that the have-nots are being scapegoated as the best target for our deficit woes. With the average Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program per-meal benefit amounting to around $1.40, can we really maintain the fiction that “welfare” is draining the coffers? In reality, the deficit has been recently swelled by exorbitant tax cuts, with 82 percent of benefits going to the top 1 percent of earners by 2027. This prioritization occurred despite a whopping 15.6 million households being “food insecure” in 2016, meaning that they went without food at times.

The government programs we value — safe food and water, well-functioning roads and energy infrastructure, public safety, good schools and a healthy environment — cannot survive without tax dollars to fund them. And no amount of squeezing the programs that provide critical support to those in need is going to cover those costs. Our upside-down tax system over-rewards the rich, penalizes the working poor and starves the government coffers.

Congress, now joined by President Trump, has ensured that we are leaving people hungrier, sicker, closer to homelessness and less able to move up the economic ladder. Is taking a pound of flesh from the vulnerable really what we envision for our country?

Katharine Landfield, Washington

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