Martin Bashir | May 07, 2012
>>> know what to expect. when a senior opens the door, they're so grateful and so thankful. overall i had such a great experience and it was such an easy way to give back to the community.
>> that was a heart warming public service announcement highlighting the importance of meals on wheels . a nonprofit service that began in the 1950s and provides food to cover a million senior citizens every day. with congress back in session today, republicans are eager to get straight to work on spending cuts targeting, you guessed it, meals on wheels . it is an attempt to protect the pentagon from spending cuts that are due to come into force next january. good afternoon.
>> how are you, martin?
>> i'm delighted to have you with us. meals on wheels is part of the block grant provision that includes funding for transportation of the elderly and disabled, daycare, and as i say, meals on wheel. can you please explain to me why republicans seem so determined to focus on the weakest and most vulnerable members of society when it comes to budget cuts?
>> well, i can tell you this is part of a continuing pattern of making sure that we protect not only defense but tax breaks for corporations and for the wealthiest in our country. in order to avoid the sequester, republicans are proposing ending this $1.7 billion social services block grant which by the way was started under president gerald ford . a republican. and republicans claim that it is the duplication of services. but of course, they also propose to end $33 billion in food stamps which of course, 43 million americans rely on. they propose ending another say, $30 billion on medicaid which many of our seniors who want to live the dignified, have a dignified end of life experience in nursing homes . depend on. and so that's an excellent question.
>> you see -- we've got over 8 million seniors. that's roughly one in seven. facing the threat of hunger in 2010 according to the most reliable statistics. so republicans would prefer that they lose their meals on wheels and forego the only human contact that many of these elderly folk receive rather than stopping subsidies to massively successful oil companies . have i got that right?
>> well, let me just say to you, market, they have poll tested and talk to the public and they have experts and so they say that these social services programs that we're providing are provided that this social safety net has become a hammock. imagine an elderly person, 80 years oerlgd sitting at home waiting on a meal. being considered some lazy bump is lying around in a hammock or some elderly woman in a nursing home that is relying on medicaid. i think that americans really need to take a second look at these folk that we have put in office with their very, very machiavellian view of quote/unquote ending our deficit problem. you don't do it by returning our elderly into hunger and poverty.
>> i want you to take a look at this video. this is your colleague, republican congresswoman joe barton of texas delivering meals on wheels with a camera crew in tow. so mr. barton will happily use the service for a photo opportunity when it suits him. but then he'll potentially vote to cut the service when it doesn't suit him?
>> absolutely correctly. i think that one thing you can say about republicans , that they are very, very good at sticking together and staying in line with what their leadership has prescribed. they have decided that they want to hang their hats on the wealthiest in our country. and it seems to be paying off. right here in wisconsin, we have an election where millions upon millions of dollars are being provided by these corporations and wealthy people in order for republicans to do their bidding. and in congress, we see the same thing. the supreme court has provided a provision, as you know, under citizens united , where they say corporations are people versus these elderly people are you need to protect. certainly some 80-year-old woman who is waiting on a meal from wheels on meals does not have as much power as one of these great oil company who can fund your campaign and i think they've taken a very cynical approach to governing.
>> we should add that mr. bartonering with don't know which way he will vote and we applaud him for supporting meals and wheels and supporting that service.
>> he will vote against it. it is going to come as a huge package. and he won't have to vote on the individual provision to he said wheels on meals . and i can assure you, they will give him the point to justify this to his constituents. they'll tell him things like we're, that it is a duplication of service to provide a meal to an elderly person. they will say that these social safety net programs are socialism. they will give him points to try to get himself through his next election cycle.
>> let's hope he ignores those talking points . thank you for joining us.