Newt Gingrich decided to try a new tactic to label President Obama during last week’s debates, calling him the “Food Stamp President”, claiming that more people have been added to the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) under President Obama than under any other president.
Newt better stick to Freddie and Fannie history, cause he sure misses the mark on food stamps.
Newt Gingrich claims that “more people have been put on food stamps by Barack Obama than any president in American history.” He’s wrong. More were added under Bush than under Obama, according to the most recent figures.The former speaker made that claim Jan. 16 in a Republican debate in Myrtle Beach, S.C., and his campaign organization quickly inserted the snippet in a new 30-second TV ad that began running Jan. 18 in South Carolina.
Gingrich would have been correct to say the number now on food aid is historically high. The number stood at 46,224,722 persons as of October, the most recent month on record. And it’s also true that the number has risen sharply since Obama took office.
But 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.
Yup, Gingrich got it wrong. Color us shocked. But of course, for Gingrich and his fans, “food stamps” is a dog whistle, a shortcut to say “those people”. You know, the ones he believes are lazy, don’t want to work, are nothing but freeloaders.
So who are the folks on SNAP? The largest percentage, 36% are white. 22% are African American and 10% are Hispanic. 47% – nearly half – are under the age of 18. Slackers.
You know who else has applied for SNAP? Me. I recently joined the ranks of the disabled. I want to go back to work, but it may be a long time, if ever, before I can. And I’m a single dad. Yup, I applied. If that makes me a freeloader, so be it.
But let’s not lose sight of who really was the food stamp president – the last guy. Under his watch, the ranks swelled as the economy went belly up, unemployment skyrocketed and families hit the wall. Might President Obama hit similar levels? Maybe. But the number of folks applying dropped in October, and the trend is downward.
Don’t think we’ll see that in Gingrich’s campaign ads.