Try to stay with me here: According to Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, the food stamp program has quadrupled in the last ten years hence the food stamp program is clearly being abused hence the food stamp program should be cut back.
“One in six Americans are now receiving food stamps,” Jeff Sessions told Soledad O’Brien. “. . . This month was a record increase in food stamp participation, at a time when unemployment is declining . . . .” To Sessions, of course, this means that the food stamp program desperately needs to be cut. Yes, the hordes of “takers” out there, stealing that $4.30 per day/ per person, SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) allotment.
Senator Sessions doesn’t seem to care that in his own home state, Alabama, 20% of the residents are on food stamps – and within that number, in 61.2% of those households receiving SNAP, there’s a child in the home.
“No child, no person who needs food should be denied that food,” Sessions went on to say.
47.1 million Americans are now receiving food assistance. Of that 47.1 million, 6 million subsist entirely on the SNAP allotment – about 30 bucks a week per person. 20% of food stamp recipients have no cash income; without SNAP, they wouldn’t survive. But Sessions is determined – in the spirit of Republican “we just don’t get it” – to resurrect the “welfare queen” thought process: People living on government-provided EBTs and driving Jaguars.
O’Brien pointed out, in response to Sessions’ contention that people are thieving food stamps they’re not entitled to, that the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities points to SNAP as having “one of the most rigorous quality control systems of any public benefit program in recent years . . . has received its lowest error rates on record.” True to Republican form, when O’Brien countered with facts (not generally considered to be fluid things) that interrupted his narrative, Sessions responded, first, that the study was inaccurate. Barring that, his contention seems to be that a program that has gone up “four-fold in ten years” has to be rife with fraud and abuse; it can’t be, of course, that we narrowly averted a second Great Depression, that unemployment has been at its highest level in decades, that income equality is at its highest level in decades, and that there are, simply, hungry people out there.
“My question would be, when you’re thinking of things to cut, right,” said O’Brien, “People basically say, why are you trying to balance the budget on people who are making under $23,000 a year . . . So why not cut something else? There are other things that could be on the table before you pick a program that is feeding the nation’s poor children . . . .”
“Food stamps,” Sessions responded indignantly, “Was a program that was totally exempted from any oversight . . . when it has gone up four times in the last ten years, and the amount we spend . . . it’s the fastest growing program of all.”
As someone, along with my husband, who’s on Day 3 of the SNAP challenge (explained in greater detail here) – living on $4.30 per day, per person – it’s clear this dude goes home to steak tartar and champagne and doesn’t have a clue (nor does he care) what the very poor face every single day. The food stamp program, overall, is a drop in the federal budget. But it’s not overly generous, and doesn’t allow for comfy eating. Since Monday, we’ve skipped our morning coffee stop, taking coffee from home. Lunches are brown bagged, of course, and not filled with delicious treats. There are no “hot foods,” no drive-thru quick meals, no take-out coffee – they’re not allowed to be purchased with the SNAP EBT card. It’s a challenge, and a struggle, to try to eat minimally nutritious meals on $4.30 per day. To keep from being actually hungry, high caloric, sodium-loaded, carb-heavy food is key. Sauteed spinach with a nice lean chicken breast, or a Caesar salad, isn’t a typical SNAP meal.
Jeff Sessions, as we’ve seen, thinks the poor are living just a bit too high on the government hog, bilking the government out of that lavish four bucks a day. Eric Cantor has been spotted eating $365 meals while smugly promoting the reduction of SNAP benefits. Michele Bachmann believes the poor should just skip a couple of Happy Meals to pay taxes. Mitt Romney, the bullet we recently dodged, referred to those protesting income inequality as instigators of “class warfare.” A Missouri Rep., Cynthia Davis, advocated cutting off summer meal programs, claiming, “Hunger can be a positive motivator.”
It’s ironic that the same people who’ve spent much of their adult lives feeding at the public trough consistently want to empty that trough when it comes to the poor.