Weiner Charges USDA Delayed Hunger Report
In a move reminiscent of the 2004 election, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has again delayed the release of an annual hunger report, which is expected to show that the number of hungry Americans is on the rise under President Bush's watch, says Representative Anthony Weiner, who criticized the USDA's politically motivated timing, charging that the report is being withheld until after the midterm elections.
In a letter to White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove, Weiner wrote, "While I realize that the Bush administration's failure to address the growing hunger problem in the United States is an embarrassment for Republicans...statistics like these should not be withheld to promote the President's political agenda in advance of the midterm elections."
The report entitled "Household Food Security in the United States" is compiled by USDA's Economic Research Service and has historically been released in October of each year, a month after the Census Bureau releases its report on poverty. In 2004, the USDA also delayed release of this report, prompting criticism from Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) and hunger advocates.
Politically motivated decisions are not without precedent in the Bush Administration. In a news report just last week, Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Mark W. Everson admitted to postponing back tax collections until after the 2006 elections noting the potential for bad publicity.
Under the Bush Administration, 13.5 million households were "food insecure" in 2004, up from 11 million in 2000, according to last year's report. A "food insecure" household is one that does not have sufficient access to food or has experienced hunger.
In New York City, an estimated 1.2 million New York City residents, including 417,000 children, lived in households facing hunger or food insecurity in 2004.