Are Americans entitled to eat? Congressman won’t say

Is food a human right?

That seems like a fairly simple question, which is why it was a little odd on NPR’s Weekend Edition this weekend when Rep. Adrian Smith of Nebraska didn’t answer it.

Smith was objecting to proposed cuts in farm subsidies when host Scott Simon wondered whether food stamps (SNAP) also provide a boost to farmers.

Smith offered the typical non-answer answer, saying it’s an important topic. No kidding.

So Simon made it a simpler question.

“Is every American entitled to eat?” Simon asked.

That’s a question with only one answer that could be either “yes” or “no.”

Those questions scare politicians.

SMITH: Well, they – nutrition, obviously, we know is very important. And I would hope that we can look to…

SIMON: Well, not just important, it’s essential for life. Is every American entitled to eat?

SMITH: It is essential. It is essential.

SIMON: So is every American entitled to eat, and is food stamps something that ought to be that ultimate guarantor?

SMITH: I think that we know that, given the necessity of nutrition, there could be a number of ways that we could address that.

SIMON: So you would vote to a – for a budget that cuts food stamps?

SMITH: I want to look at an entire budget, look at all of the details. I’m still sifting through the details of the newly released budget. But we know that Congress ultimately has the say. I look for there to be a lot of changes made in the House and the Senate to the president’s budget.

Simon didn’t bother pointing out that Smith evaded the question before wishing him a good day. He didn’t need to.