Thirty-two year old Erica Jaye Cantor, no relation to the callous politician Eric Ivan Cantor from Virginia, watched her seven-year-old daughter Marline eat macaroni and cheese, the second consecutive night her dinner featured the dollar-a-box pre-fabbed pseudo-food. Marlie pushed the accompanying frozen peas and carrots into the mac and mixed. She looked at the microwaved sausages with contempt, passing on subdividing them into manageable bites.
While preparing the just add butter and milk meal, Erica watched a news clip of the debt ceiling war underway in Washington. She wondered why too many of our national leaders thought it okay to starve children or anyone in order to make a political point, yet rushed to government contract signing ceremonies with CEOs who later would turn around and demand more funding, citing unanticipated cost overruns in whatever they contracted to do.
She zeroed in on the House Majority Leader because of his name, but over years came to despise his casual smugness, born of comfort and security. He never dealt with fear of starvation. He never lost sleep over feeding a child. She bristled over his self-righteous pontificating. Marlin Stutzman of Indiana followed, parroting Cantor’s obfuscating claims. Both insisted the vote aimed to weed out food stamp fraud and restore a work ethic to people who never lost one.
Erica worked two part-time jobs. She couldn’t find full-time work after she lost her federal job to another Cantor slash Republican debacle, sequestration. Her mom saved her the cost of childcare by watching Marline, a luxury unavailable to many parents. Once her unemployment exhausted, Erica qualified for $260 a month in supplemental food stamps.
The previous week her car broke down. Fixing it cost a borrowed $384.
“Mommy, can we have something different tomorrow night?”
“Sure honey. We’ll have hot dogs and fries.”