While watching “Up with Chris Hayes” Sunday morning on MSNBC, a Republican guest’s comment inspired me to present the following premises and conclusion, which taken together represent the twisted logic of the right-wing and its ongoing and ridiculous, if not partly racist, claim that Mr. Obama is the Food Stamp President:
♦ The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) was formerly known as and still is popularly called the Food Stamp Program. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:
Nearly 75 percent of SNAP participants are in families with children; more than one-quarter of participants are in households with seniors or people with disabilities.
♦ A significant change in SNAP occurred in 2002, including expanding it to “make more legal immigrants eligible for benefits,” according to the Agriculture Department. And according to a right-wing opponent of the increase in food stamp benefits, the 2002 bill, “increased benefits for families with more children, adjusted benefits for inflation and made it easier to enroll.”
♦ George Bush was president in 2002 and signed the expansion into law (as part of the big 2002 farm bill), saying at the time:
This bill is also a compassionate bill. This law means that legal immigrants can now receive help and food stamps after being here for five years. It means that you can have an elderly farm worker, somebody here legally in America who’s worked hard to make a living and who falls on hard times, that person can receive help from a compassionate government.
And as for Bush’s entire tenure as president, CNN reported earlier this year:
Food stamp enrollment has been rising for more than a decade. President Bush launched a recruitment campaign, which pushed average participation up by 63% during his eight years in office.
♦ Teapartiers Paul Ryan (whose famous budget cuts SNAP by $134 billion) and Jim DeMint (who now abhors increased spending on food stamps!), along with my former congressman and now senator from Missouri, Roy Blunt, voted for the 2002 food stamp expansion. So did then-senator and Missouri Republican Kit Bond.
♦ The 2008 version of the farm bill also expanded the food stamp program, and although Mr. Bush vetoed the bill (but not because of the food stamp expansion), Republicans provided the necessary margin to override his veto. That bill, again according to that same right-wing opponent of food stamp increases,
contained more than 30 provisions relating to food stamps, including higher minimum benefits.
Again, Roy Blunt voted for the 2008 bill that expanded the program and voted in the House to override Bush’s veto. In the Senate, the override vote saw 35 Republican senators—including Mitch McConnell—vote to override the veto. Missouri’s Kit Bond, along with both Kansas Republican senators, voted to override, thus expanding the food stamp program.
♦ The Great Recession, which cost millions of Americans their jobs and caused many people to seek help from the food stamp program, began while George Bush was president.
♦ Just before Mr. Obama came into office in January of 2009, the GDP shrank at an annualized rate of almost 9%. Yes, you read that right: “More than any other recession since the Great Depression.”
In light of the increased demand for services and strained State budgets, the increased ARRA funding to State agencies that administer the SNAP program enables State governments to avoid reductions in services and to meet the increasing demand from low-income families and individuals resulting from the recession.
REPUBLICAN CONCLUSION: The fact that more folks needed and continue to need food stamps because of the Great Recession is all Barack Obama’s fault and he is, therefore, the Food Stamp President.
Besides admiring the audacity of the faulty logic of Republicans, it may interest you to know that for all the talk about food stamps and the number of Americans who need them, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average monthly benefit—I kid you not—is a whopping $133.84 (in Missouri it is $127.05).
Again, I kid you not. That tiny amount, most of it going to families with kids, is what generates all the divisive demagoguery—including Romney’s 47% nonsense—and what causes Republicans to bend the principles of logic in service to their Obama-hating agenda.