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The Nation Blows The Dog Whistle On Food Stamps


Here we go with dog whistle again.

The Nation’s Lizzy Ratner surmises that it’s racist to acknowledge that a record number of Americans are on the government dole.

The deep racism at the heart of conservative food stamp critiques offers at least one clue as to why the Obama administration has been unable or unwilling to champion SNAP as a valuable recession antidote: as the nation’s first African-American president, Obama is vulnerable to racist innuendo, which his opponents are only too happy to exploit. Just two months after Gingrich made his “food stamp president” comment, another would-be president, Rick Santorum, picked up the theme, accusing Obama, absurdly, of “pushing more people on food stamps.”

Lloyd Marcus illustration

Is the below “deep racism?”

The CBO predicted that the US economy will be unsustainable by 2037 on its current path.

The IMF declared two weeks ago that the age of America will end in a decade.

One in six Americans now receive government help. USA Today says more Americans are receiving federal aid than ever. Investors’ Insight says more Americans than ever before are on the government dole.

Lastly, according to our own government statistics, more white Americans receive federal aid than blackAmericans, shattering the stereotype that led Walsh to immediately think “black people” when she heard the words “food stamps.”

Did Ratner bother to actually research welfare statistics before assuming that the critics were “racist” because she stereotypically believes that the majority of welfare recipients are black? Because the majority of welfare recipients are white.

So which is actually racist?

a) Criticizing dependance upon government for personal sustainability or;

b) assuming that all those who are dependent upon government are black?

This is a trend with progressives, this prejudiced association of welfare and black Americans.

Ratner writes:

Yes, food is essential. But it is also something else: a source of economic growth, a stimulus. As a 2008 study by Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody’s, found, every government dollar spent on food stamps lifts GDP by $1.73, making it the most effective way to inject money into the economy. The reason is simple: “People who receive these benefits are hard-pressed, and will spend any financial aid they receive very quickly,” writes Zandi, one of John McCain’s economic advisers during his presidential campaign, hardly a bleeding heart.

Writes Wynton Hall in response:

Ms. Ratner’s baseless racial attack obscures an otherwise noble effort: Sen. Sessions’s amendment was an attempt to save taxpayers billions in mismanaged funds resulting from so-called “categorical eligibility”-a provision that makes recipients of other federal benefits automatically eligible for food stamps.

“What this means,” explained Sen. Sessions, “is that even if your assets or income level should make you ineligible, you will receive food stamps regardless. For instance, in one state, simply calling a pregnancy hotline can make you eligible for food stamps-regardless of whether you meet the program’s requirements. This program is not being run honestly, effectively, or fairly.”

As Sen. Sessions points out, at a time when the federal government spends $4 billion more a day than it takes in, finding ways to be wise with taxpayers’ money is critical.

“We’re in a fiscal crisis that is already killing jobs,” says Sen. Sessions, “and these bills just increase spending-and destroy confidence-that much more.”

Sessions is right. Over the last four years, federal spending on the nation’s food stamp program-officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)-has more than doubled, going from $33 billion to $77 billion under President Barack Obama. In 2012, taxpayers will spend a projected $89 billion on the program. Today, a record 46 million Americans now receive food stamp-an increase of over two-thirds since Mr. Obama took office.

All of this incessant howling about race is a distraction from the real epidemic: the growing number of Americans dependent upon the federal government. Ratner’s attention is best served there rather than making baseless accusations over race.


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