February 14, 2018

I think I've developed a full-blown allergy to stupidity, complete with anaphylactic shock. It's one of the reasons why I avoid Fox News. But duty calls!

On The Story yesterday, host Martha MacCallum and guest Mollie Hemingway piled the horse manure high and wide in a discussion of Trump's proposal to replace SNAP, colloquially know as the food stamp program, with boxes of food.

Can you say "stupid and misleading"? I knew you could!

First of all, it's not a "Blue Apron-type program," other than the fact that both involve food that's delivered in a box. (I can't be the only person who's aware that Blue Apron is losing money hand over fist?) Lazy reporters, who cause a lot more harm to this democracy than food stamp recipients, bought right into that label -- because it's easier than actually thinking.
(And speaking of subsidies for lazy people, Fox contributor Mollie Hemingway is an editor at the Federalist -- you know, where honest intellectual debate goes to die.)

Now, talk radio host Richard Fowler makes many good points, calling the plan "absurd." He points out the hypocrisy of the same people who yelled about attempts to ban Big Gulps wanting to micromanage the diets of the poor, and raised practical questions about the implementation.

Then MacCallum says one of the stupidest, dishonest things ever. She uses the rise in food stamp usage as proof that poverty programs don't work! (I'm going into anaphylactic shock now...)

Nothing to to with the decades-long REPUBLICAN policy of subsidizing employers' low-wage jobs like those at Walmart and McDonald's with food stamps and Medicaid, subsidies that allow them to get away without offering a living wage.

"Really, this program ballooned under both the Bush and Obama administration, and it's now 18% of American households are on this program," Hemingway said.

"The biggest problem facing -- the biggest food related problem facing low income Americans not actually hunger, it's obesity. A lot of that related to this so-called nutritional program which has people buying things that are not exactly the healthiest for them. There are some really stad statistics about this children in low income American children are twice as likely to be obese as other Americans.

"And this, of course, leads to all sorts of lifelong problems of not just the physical variety but socio-economic problems. Federal problem not doing anything to help it but getting people onto these rolls in recent years. This is a program that has nearly quadrupled in size since the beginning of the Bush administration and tripled in how many recipients. Not doing what it set out to accomplish."

Where to begin with such utter stupidity? Who are these people? Are they the same people who ridiculed Michelle Obama for trying to get kids to eat fresh produce and move their bodies?

Fowler tries to inject reality into the conversation.

"Number one, the SNAP program is one that responds to economic fluctuation. So every time the economy goes down as we saw in 2008 during the Great Recession, of course you will have more folks enrolled in the program. They are out of jobs and can't work. Not to mention the fact that SNAP programs are also used during times of natural disaster. The reason why the SNAP numbers are so high now because had you a hurricane in Houston, had you a huge hurricane in Puerto Rico," he said.

But it went downhill from there.

"Ask if we can do it a better way," MacCallum said. "There's also a tremendous amount of food waste at restaurants across the country and perhaps, you know, there is something that can be done in terms of produce that isn't used day of, and that kind of thing. I think to ask to make a change, to make the program work better is not a bad idea."

First of all, SNAP benefits are not generous -- something many formerly middle-class people discovered to their shock during the recession. ("I worked hard all these years, and now that I need help, all I get is $11 a month?" one friend said.)

So parents buy cheap calories -- starch and sugar -- to fill up hungry bellies. Which is part of the obesity problem. Also, many of these parents are working multiple jobs, don't have cars, and have to depend on local (overpriced) stores without much in the way of fresh food. And you think restaurant leftovers are going to solve a national problem on this scale? (Not to mention, most big cities already have programs that use restaurant leftovers.)

I need to go grab my epi-pen. The stupid, the privilege, the sheer shamelessness is too much to bear.

Can you help us out?

For 18 years we have been exposing Washington lies and untangling media deceit, but now Facebook is drowning us in an ocean of right wing lies. Please give a one-time or recurring donation, or buy a year's subscription for an ad-free experience. Thank you.


We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Any comments that are sexist or in any other way deemed hateful by our staff will be deleted and constitute grounds for a ban from posting on the site. Please refer to our Terms of Service for information on our posting policy.