Another day, another morning where MSNBC's resident bigot-in-chief Pat Buchanan showed that he just can't help himself when it comes to going after the poor with some not so thinly veiled racism as we saw from him again on this Tuesday's edition of Morning Joe.
After Wes Moore reminded the viewers that the food stamp program falls under the Department of Agriculture and that there is a report that was just released showing that one in seven Americans are now on food stamps, Moore asked Sec. of Agriculture Tom Vilsack what is being done by his department to address poverty in the light of that recent news.
VILSACK: Well, obviously, it’s putting people to work. Which is why we’re going to have some interesting things in the course of the forum this morning. Later this morning, we’re going have a press conference with myself and Secretary Mavis and Secretary Chu to announce something that’s never happened in this country which we think is exciting in terms of job growth.
But, I should point out, when you talk about the SNAP program or the food stamp program, you have to recognize that it’s also an economic stimulus. Every dollar of SNAP benefits generates $1.84 in the economy in terms of economic activity. If people are able to buy a little bit more in the grocery store, then someone's got to stock it, shelve it, package it, process it, ship it; all of those are jobs. It's the most direct stimulus you can get into the economy during tough times.
Vilsack also explained that the reasons some of the numbers have gone up with the number of people using the program is his department has been doing a better job of working with the states in getting the word out about the program so more people who are eligible for it actually sign up for it and help stimulate their local economies.
Enter Pat Buchanan who of course tries to paint the program as a being one of the causes for our “exploding budget deficit.” Never mind those wars Bush started or the tax cuts for the rich. We can't be wasting any money on those poor slackers who just want to live off the government teet since that's the real cause of our problems in Buchanan-Upside-Down-World.
BUCHANAN: Governor, Pat Buchanan here. I go back to the mid-nineteen sixties I guess when LBJ began the program, '64, '65, the food stamp program. There were no Americans on food stamps in the fifties or the thirties. And now there are forty six million Americans on food stamps at a cost of $77 million at last count. Isn't this however one of the problems in terms of the exploding budget deficit as well?
VILSACK: Pat it really is a relatively small percentage of the budget and having said that, I think it's important to talk about who the people are, who are receiving SNAP benefits. These are folks who are not necessarily on cash welfare. I think a lot of people think that everyone who is receiving food stamps is a cash welfare recipient. Only ten percent of SNAP beneficiaries are cash welfare beneficiaries. It's retired people who have paid their dues who are trying to live on a tough fixed income. It's working poor. It's folks who are working, playing by the rules that need to stretch their dollar just a little bit.
Anyone want to bet that Sec. Vilsack has read this op-ed or something similarly offensive by Pat Buchanan with him feeling the need to respond to Buchanan in the manner that he did?
Pat Buchanan, MSNBC’s resident race-baiter and bigoted xenophobe, is falling into line like a good Republican soldier and joining Newt Gingrich’s call to vilify poor people and their need of food stamps to survive the recession. Using old fashioned class warfare during political campaigns is nothing new. And Buchanan and Gingrich are the fathers of odious social wedge issues, rife with coded racism and used to stoke resentment against the poor. Buchanan makes his contribution to Gingrich’s anti-food stamps cause in a piece he penned for the right-wing birther blog WorldNetDaily. As usual, Buchanan manages to take his bigotry to such extremes that he becomes a caricature in unintended self-mockery. Buchanan suggests that there are no starving people in America, because the poor are not so desperate that they have resorted to cannibalism.
Buchanan’s exercise in bigotry and heartlessness, entitled “Food Stamp Nation,” rails against food stamps and all entitlement programs. He longs for a return to the days before the New Deal, when no safety net existed for the poor.
What a changed country we have become in our expectations of ourselves. A less affluent America survived a Depression and world war without anything like the 99 weeks of unemployment insurance, welfare payments, earned income tax credits, food stamps, rent supplements, day care, school lunches and Medicaid we have today.
Buchanan derides the poor and unemployed as lazy freeloaders.
“We have a new division in America: those who pay a double fare, and those who forever ride free.”
And because Buchanan doesn’t see corpses in the street or Americans resorting to cannibalism, he concludes that hunger doesn’t exist. Read on...
And as my fellow C&L contributor Susie Madrak pointed out to me when I first heard Buchanan railing on during this segment and talked to the team about it:
Not to mention they were used to replace the surplus food program that was in place while I was growing up, where people got rice and cheese from the government.
If Pat Buchanan thinks that the government didn't have a similar program in place to help the poor and the farming community before the SNAP program was started, maybe he should read this post that was written during the dust up over whether the government should be supplementing some of the beverage industry or not -- Soda, Surplus, and Food Stamps: A Short History.
And as another of our contributors, Bluegal aka Fran pointed out to me, there was a time when it was actually considered a matter of national security that you don't allow your citizens to be starving on the streets:
President Harry S. Truman began the national school lunch program in 1946 as a measure of national security. He did so after reading a study that revealed many young men had been rejected from the World War II draft due to medical conditions caused by childhood malnutrition.
School lunch programs were originally paid for out of the Defense Department so the new recruits wouldn't show up for war underfed.
Why does Pat Buchanan hate America?
As I relayed to them, I don't think Pat Buchanan hates America. I think he just hates the part that's not white.
And one last update here. Media Matters has more on the right wing attacks of Tom Vilsack after this interview aired -- Right-Wing Media Mock Vilsack For Accurately Calling Food Stamps "Economic Stimulus":
Right-wing media mocked Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack for stating that food stamps are "economic stimulus." In fact, experts agree that food stamps are one of the most effective forms of economic stimulus. Read on...