Food is Fundamental, Only Don’t Ask Newt Gingrich

On January 21 Newt Gingrich won the South Carolina Primary. But he did it, in part, by using racist rhetoric, characterizing President Obama as "the best food stamp president in American history." Since then, he has continued to drive this distortion hoping it will somehow resonate with voters. It's not likely to work, because most Americans understand that food is fundamental. Presidents do not put people onto the food stamp rolls. People, predominately people with children to feed, become eligible for food stamps.

The food stamp program, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP, is a critical safety net for families living in poverty. SNAP eligibility rules require that participants be at or below 130 percent of the federal poverty level.

Recent studies show that 49 percent of all SNAP participants are children (age 18 or younger), with almost two-thirds of SNAP children living in single-parent households. In total, 76 percent of SNAP benefits go towards households with children, 16 percent go to households with disabled persons, and 9 percent go to households with senior citizens.

Newt Gingrich’s attempt to paint Obama as the president who oversaw the largest increase of SNAP participation is inaccurate. It was President Bush, not President Obama who has that distinction.  This stands to reason, as it was during President Bush’s administration that our country’s economy plummeted.  Newt Gingrich’ race-baiting tactic is repugnant, of course, and he is just flat-out wrong.  As Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL) so eloquently voiced on the floor of The U.S. House recently, “Hunger is color-blind. Of recipients whose race we know, 22 percent of SNAP recipients are African-American. And 34 percent are white. Hunger knows no race, or religion, or age or political party.”

Hunger in America is real.  Programs such as SNAP, WIC, free- and reduced- school lunches, and summer feeding programs exists because there is a need.  These are not fraud-ridden systems somehow sucking the life out of our budgets as some politicians would like you to believe.  According to a recent USDA analysis, SNAP reached a payment accuracy of 96.19 percent in 2012 (the highest ever achieved by the program).  Trafficking rates — the number of benefits exchanged for cash — are at 1 percent, according to 2008 statistics, the most recent available. There is always room for improvement, but the integrity of the SNAP program is solid.

As evidenced by no subsequent primary wins, America is not buying Newt Gingrich’s assault on children, families, disabled, or our senior citizens.

In a recent NPR interview, correspondent David Welna spoke to Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions from Alabama, and Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu from Louisiana. Per capita, Sessions' Alabama is one of the top food stamp recipients in the nation; so is Louisiana.  Sen. Sessions said, “I think it's a policy of the administration, just get money out of the door to try to stimulate the economy, and not look closely at who's getting it and why they're getting it.”  Sen. Mary Landrieu said, “It is blaming the victim, and it's making a mockery of some of the most important, I think, social safety net programs in the country.”  Welna asked about government freeloaders?  Sen. Landrieu responded by suggesting Congress should “take away the special tax loopholes for the rich."

Candidate Gingrich would never advocate for that. Take away tax loopholes for the wealthy? Blasphemous indeed. Hungry children, being hungry, families living from paycheck to paycheck, having a language barrier that limits your ability to navigate our system, being part of the working poor, struggling to find a job, or experiencing financial fear, all these are beyond the realm of reality for Newt Gingrich.

No, he can more easily identify with his patrons such as Sheldon Adelson, a casino mogul who donated 5 million dollars to Gingrich through a super PAC. Then his wife Miriam, quickly followed with a 6 million dollar donation. This was just before the South Carolina primary and we know who won the South Carolina primary.

3 thoughts on “Food is Fundamental, Only Don’t Ask Newt Gingrich

  1. You do realize that there are ‘white’ people using food stamps and that some of them have been on food stamps long
    before the current administration, don’t you?
    Then how is it ‘racist’ to talk about people being on food stamps?

  2. No,Presidents don’t put people on food stamps….but a President’s economic policies do…evidently you are simply too intellectually dishonest to admit that…either that or you simply can’t abide any criticism of Barokeydoke’s policies which have been worse for blacks than any other demographic…but it would be “racist” to criticize his policies wouldn’t it?…you’re being chumped and you don’t even know it,sweetit

  3. “SNAP, is a critical safety net for families living in poverty”

    Yes. This program, and similar ones, are supported by all the major Republican candidates for President. You don’t really believe anyone wants children to go hungry?

    We cannot have a civil discussion, in this country, about Policy, let alone Procedure. No one ever speaks honestly to the difference between the Deserving Poor and those undeserving. Yes Alicia, there are people who do not deserve largess from the public coffers. Why can’t we talk about that?

    Food stamps are rife with corruption. Food stamps are used as debased money in some poor communities. Is this what you want, Alicia?

    I don’t think anyone should starve (not even the undeserving). I do think that those who pay for these programs be treated with respect. It was their labor, after all, that feeds these poor wretches, and their children.

    Perhaps we can have a discussion about ditching the Food Stamp programs and returning to the days of Government Surplus Food? Allowing people to pick up their staples from government stores? Cheaper for the taxpayer and less corruption by the end user.

    In a free society it is difficult to have a dependent underclass. Made more difficult when many seem to be generationally locked into poverty. Free societies do not well serve a Patron/Peon relationship.