When Cheney rushed back to Washington from his dubious celebratory trip to Iraq following elections there the official reason given was so he would be available to break tie votes in Congress during the last minute push to pass controversial legislation before the holiday break.
The one tied bill needing his vote was a budget item in which deep cuts were made in Medicaid/Medicare, student loans and food stamps. These cuts were necessary, claim opponents, in order to afford tax cuts for the rich a target audience for the beleaguered Bush administration.
The wisdom of cutting programs for the low-income, poorest families remains a disturbing question.
A new study from Cornell University grapples with some of the larger issues:
“When young school-age children do not always have enough to eat, their academic development -- especially reading – suffers. "We found that reading development, in particular, is affected in girls, though the mathematical skills of food-insecure children entering kindergarten also tend to develop significantly more slowly than other children's," said Edward Frongillo, associate professor of nutritional sciences at Cornell.
The research provides the strongest evidence to date that food insecurity has specific developmental consequences for children.
Food insecurity is defined as households having limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate or safe foods.
Despite federal food assistance and private charitable programs, food insecurity is a persistent national problem affecting 12 percent of all households and 18 percent of households with children.
The study is published in the December issue of the Journal of Nutrition (135:12).