The congresswoman who betrayed her Central Valley hometown

June 14, 2013

By Chris Reed

matsuiA Democratic congresswoman from California wants you to know she cares about some poor people — the ones who use food stamps. This is from the Bee:

“Doris Matsui of Sacramento on Wednesday pledged to spend only $13.50 on food the next three days, joining nearly 30 of her fellow House Democrats in protest of cuts to the federal food stamp program.

“The Senate on Monday approved a 10-year, $955 billion farm bill that includes a $400 million a year cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. A House proposal would cut the program by $2 billion a year.

“Matsui said via Facebook and Twitter that 200,000 residents of Sacramento County rely on food assistance and that she would take part in the ‘SNAP Challenge’ and live off the average benefit of $4.50 a day.

“‘Feeding a family on SNAP is already challenging, and these cuts would make it even harder,’ Matsui wrote on her Facebook page. ‘That is why I am taking the SNAP Challenge to raise awareness of hunger in our nation and to highlight the importance of SNAP.'”

Help Central Valley farmers? Nah. Let them use food stamps to buy cake.

But does Matsui care about the  poor people who don’t want to rely on food stamps? The poor people who need not welfare but jobs — giving them regular paychecks so they can avoid being on the dole? Of course not. She’s a Democrat from Sacramento, after all — and one who turned her back on her hometown at an absolutely crucial moment.

This is what I wrote about her in June 2009 on the late lamented America’s Finest Blog:

“A Central Valley lawmaker’s crusade to move farmers ahead of fish in California’s water pecking order now has the backing of 37 House Democrats … . But when it came time for a crucial House Rules Committee vote Wednesday night on whether to allow Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Visalia, to try to attach farmer-relief language to a $32 billion Interior Department funding bill, the panel voted 8-4 to block the attempt. Rep. Dennis Cardoza, D-Merced, was the only Democrat to side with Nunes, the Bee reported.

“Which prompted me to look up the 13 members of the House Rules Committee. Which led me to this fact. If Cardoza was the only rules panel Dem to back Nunes, that means Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento, either voted against Nunes, abstained or missed the vote.

Mayor of Matsui’s impoverished hometown stunned at her callousness


“Given the importance of agriculture to California, this is bad already. But here’s the kicker from Matsui’s official bio. She grew up … on a farm in California’s Central Valley. Further research shows specifically she lived in Dinuba, a town in Nunes’ district, 30 miles southeast of Fresno. Where the families-in-poverty rate in 2007 was 22 percent, well more than double the national average, and is almost certainly much higher now between the recession and the environmentalist-led assault on Central Valley farming.

“Betrayals of the people you grew up among don’t get much more complete than this. Doris Matsui must not believe in karma.

“I called up Dinuba Mayor Mark Wallace. … Wallace said Nunes’ efforts to change Central Valley water policy were absolutely crucial. ‘I can’t believe that anyone would vote against this no matter who they were, especially in these tough times.’

“Wallace said he didn’t know Matsui or of her background. But he said that he ‘absolutely could not’ believe that someone from Dinuba could treat it and the Central Valley so poorly.”

Matsui did vote no on the relief. She wants farmworkers to have access to water and shade. She just doesn’t care if they actually have work on farms.

No, things haven’t gotten better in Dinuba since 2009. The most recent reports show the town has a 26.4 percent poverty rate, which is even worse than the state’s rate, which is the highest in the nation. But the congresswoman from Dinuba probably thinks that’s no big deal — at least if the impoverished people she betrayed have access to food stamps.


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