You probably recall reaching for your barf bag when Newt Gingrich called President Obama the “food stamp” president who doesn’t like to work. Much worse than being on food stamps, Newt was a lobbyist and you know people choose that lifestyle whereas poor people do not chose to starve. Of course, that’s the level of discourse you get in a Republican debate. Fear not, Newt also volunteered to take it to the NAACP to explain to the African American community how he would be a paycheck president instead of a food stamp president, demonstrating that he is misinformed as to who is actually on food stamps in addition to who put them there and also how many people are enrolling for food stamps.
Needless to say, it’s not true that Obama enrolled more people on food stamps than any other president. In fact, more recipients were added to the food stamp rolls under Bush than under Obama according to FactCheck.
Gingrich goes too far to say Obama has put more on the rolls than other presidents. We asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition service for month-by-month figures going back to January 2001. And they show that under President George W. Bush the number of recipients rose by nearly 14.7 million. Nothing before comes close to that.
And under Obama, the increase so far has been 14.2 million. To be exact, the program has so far grown by 444,574 fewer recipients during Obama’s time in office than during Bush’s.
They go on to mention that the enrollment has gone down and the economy is getting better, but let us not be distracted in our mission to create a false universe for the Republican base. After all, any time a negative narrative full of untruths is uttered anywhere in the galaxy, Fox News is there to amplify it until you hear it from every single-celled troll on the internet.
Fox News has been going on the food stamp president with gusto, even including their favorite trick of the Misleading Chart! What’s not to like? It smears the President for having to clean up after Bush’s economic debacle, it’s a racist dog whistle, it implies that black people are on food stamps more than whites (not true), it gives their audience someone new to hate and most importantly, it’s easy enough for their propaganda activists to repeat without getting confused.
Of course, Fox News doesn’t tell their cult are that the people most likely to be on food stamps aren’t in blue states like California, but in red states like Mississippi, where more than 21% are on food stamps. Mississippi is also distinguished as the reddest of the red states, along with Wyoming. In other words, the food stamp users are Fox News’ base. Naturally, they hate themselves. Wouldn’t you?
Fox News must be getting bored with ‘food stamp president,’ so they’re expanding their Bubble now to link food stamp usage to fraud (I can’t wait to see James O’Keefe dressed up like a food stamp pimp successfully defrauding the government! Pssst, James: This time, you might want to read up on the law before you play your little reindeer games.).
Here’s Greg Gutfeld on Fox News’ The Five saying food stamps are “necessary” but becoming “the liberal alternative to currency.” Watch here courtesy of Media Matters:
Liberal idea of currency? I think not, sir. It is clearly the currency of welfare red states first and foremost, if we are making such distinctions.
Just to be clear, though, Fox News is saying you people in Mississippi are defrauding the government. However, it seems it’s the retailers ripping off the food stamp program for profit, exchanging food stamps for money at a rate of 50 cents on the dollar. Yes, it’s the job creators stealing from the government — big shock. There goes another colored man stealing from the government meme up in smoke.
Here’s a food stamp reality check from the Wall Street Journal (also owned by Murdoch but apparently Fox News researchers were unable to find this information even though it comes up first on Google for me, a non-Fox watcher) from last November:
Food stamp rolls exploded during the downturn, which began in late 2007. Even after the recession came to its official end in June 2009, families continued to tap into food assistance as unemployment remained high and those lucky enough to find jobs were often met with lower wages.
States also made changes to make it easier for residents to tap into the program, such as waiving requirements that limited the value of assets food stamp recipients could own.
Yes you read that right. States made it easier for residents to tap into the food stamp program. Is Nikki Haley a food stamp governor? The percentage of the population on food stamps in South Carolina in 2011 was 18.2 percent, up from from 2010 when only 7.1 percent were on food stamps.
If you want to know who uses the most food stamps, just look to the South. Yes, the same South that votes reflexively Republican. In fact, Huffington Post reported in June of 2011, “States with smaller populations participate in food stamp programs most often, particularly in the South, where as many as 20 percent of the population is found to use food stamps.”
Remember, it’s the states that made the food stamp program easier to tap into. So, if these simpletons want to blame someone for enrolling people for food stamps, they need to start with their beloved Southern states (see: liberty and freedom). However, making food available to our citizens shouldn’t really be a thing of shame. For example, Mississippi has suffered from disasters like the Gulf Oil Spill that have further hurt their economy and about 1 million disaster victims (e.g., Alabama tornado victims) from several states were added to the rolls in 2011.
Should we have let them starve? What say you, conservative Fox watchers from Mississippi, South Carolina and Alabama — yes, we should have let you starve or no, we did the right thing in lending a helping hand?
Also of note, the food stamp explosion began at the economic downturn, in 2007 (even WSJ admits this factual truth). We recall that there was another dude in the White House then, but Republicans pretend he never existed.
President Obama explained to Diane Sawyer during an ABC World News interview last night that he doesn’t put people on food stamps or make them eligible for them, “First of all, I don’t put people on food stamps. People become eligible for food stamps. Second of all, the initial expansion of food-stamp eligibility happened under my Republican predecessor, not under me. Number three, when you have a disastrous economic crash that results in 8 million people losing their jobs, more people are going to need more support from government.”
Good point, Mr. President. Compassion is no longer a Republican value, and odder yet is the fact that it is their own base they are attacking. Psychologically, this makes perfect sense for the authoritarian mind set who would be attracted to the modern day Republican Party. It has something to do with deep shame resulting in being very familiar and most comfortable being punished and ridiculed in private, but externalizing that inner hate in order to cope by projecting it onto others whom one can then “hate” with gusto. It’s a form of scapegoating, but with a darker and sadder overtone, emanating as it does from self-loathing and feelings of impotent shame.
The self-loathing of Republicans is truly troubling, but so too is the ceaseless compassion of Democrats even as they are scapegoated again and again. After years of being blamed for caring about red states who vote against their own economic interests while they rob blue states blind in federal subsidies, it might be time for some tough love.
Fox News and Republicans live in a fantasy world of made up reality where they spend their time pointing their fingers outward, lathered up in sanctimonious, self-righteous rage based on lies and paranoia. The ‘food stamp president’ narrative is just one more lie holding up their false cardboard world. Sadly, they have no idea how absurd and pathetic they are because they are too emotionally and mentally distant from reality to recognize it.
Image: Armchair patriot
Image: Wall Street Journal (if you click through, their map is interactive).
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.