Boomtown 2: Corporations Profit Off $75 Billion Food Stamp Industry
On Fox News' Hannity on Friday, Government Accountability Institute (GAI) President Peter Schweizer and Breitbart News Executive Chairman Stephen K. Bannon exposed how politicians and corporations have used the country's food stamps program, which is meant to temporarily supplement the nutrition of Americans facing hard times, as a profitable jobs program.
In "Boomtown 2: The Business of Food Stamps," Schweizer said a program that was supposed to be a "safety net" has "become an insider game of power and profit" where corporations try to get a slice of the $75 billion taxpayer-funded pie. In addition, as host Sean Hannity noted, nearly 20% of Americans are on either food stamps or disability payments, which means they are depending on the government for all of their "sustenance."
The GAI president said the tentacles of the food stamps industry "extend to Wall Street and Madison Avenue." He claimed as the food stamps budget increases, many of the nation's top companies see their market shares increase as they try to get their share of the $75 billion the government spends a year on food stamps.
Schweizer said food stamps were intended for basic foods like cheese, meat, and eggs, but have grown to include soft drinks and fast food as the program continued to expand as a result of lobbying from the food industry. He also noted that when food stamps were turned into EBT cards in 2002, it became easier for Americans to commit even more fraud, which gave the government and the corporations that profited from EBT transactions absolutely no incentive to reform the system or take steps to limit the fraud.
According to Schweizer, J.P. Morgan, which administers many of the EBT cards, has no incentive to limit the number of transactions on their cards when they get a cut from the transactions.
Schweizer noted that corporations like Coca Cola and Kraft Foods have "lobbied against laws" that would make sodas ineligible to be purchased with food stamps.
He said "a nutrition program designed to provide supplemental nutrition to people having a hard time making ends meet" has turned into a economic stimulus and jobs program that politicians are continually trying to expand even more with no resistance from those in the lobbying and corporate world that profit from the expansion.
After a dismal March jobs report that saw 663,000 Americans completely leave the job force, which lowered the labor force participation rate to its lowest level since 1979, the topics discussed became more paramount as more Americans are likely to be recipients of food stamps in the down economy.
The Government Accountability Institute, "a nonpartisan government investigative group devoted to exposing government corruption and cronyism involving taxpayer dollars," teamed up with Bannon for the highly-rated and acclaimed "“Boomtown 1: Washington, The Imperial City."
That special "exposed the cronyism and luxurious lifestyle of Washington, DC’s power elite"; Boomtown 2 similarly exposed how the same interests take advantage of the food stamp program to use "the poor and the taxpayers," like the workers who gave up looking for work in March, as pawns to enrich themselves.
Bannon noted how there is no incentive in the current system for any of the players to limit or reduce fraud, because doing so would see their own profits would decrease. He also said Americans are becoming less self-reliant as the government, with clever advertising pitches, tries to get even more people--even those who are resistant--on the program.
"This is a $75 billion industry that is metastasizing," Bannon said, noting that the spending on food stamps has doubled in the last four years. He said "tough measures" have to be taken in an "age of austerity."
The "Boomtown 2" special is intended to start the dialogue about what some of those measures need to be as the country faces a threatening debt crisis. Bannon's and Schweizer's past projects, which always put taxpayers outside of the Washington beltway first, have led to institutional reforms--like the banning of insider trading by members of Congress.
As Breitbart News noted, three of Bannon’s past films--Generation Zero, District of Corruption, and The Hope and The Change--have also previously been the subject of highly rated one-hour Hannity specials.