Let them eat garbage
This is not a joke. Some well-fed congressional staffer says that Food Stamps are too generous and to prove it he goes to the store, buys a bunch of garbage and basically tells the poor to eat it and shut up:
Donny Ferguson (no relation to this reporter), an aide to outspoken right-wing congressman Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) claims that people who say that the Special Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), more commonly known as food stamps, isn’t enough to live on are lying and that the program should be cut even further. Think Progress flagged a Stockman press release in which Ferguson said he believed that the weekly allotment of food for one person of $31.50 is too generous because he claims was able to purchase a week’s worth of food for $27.58.
He apparently thinks that people should live on beans and rice (both canned and dried, he likes it so much!) some cheap pasta, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and junk food full of sugar. No fresh vegetables, no meat (not even canned), no eggs, no condiments, no fresh fruit, no oil, not even a box of real oatmeal.
“I wanted to personally experience the effects of the proposed cuts to food stamps. I didn’t plan ahead or buy strategically, I just saw the publicity stunt and made a snap decision to drive down the street and try it myself,” Ferguson said in the release. “I put my money where my mouth is, and the proposed food stamp cuts are still quite filling.”
Ferguson was reacting to the “SNAP Challenge,” in which Democratic legislators and activists are protesting proposed cuts to the newest Farm Bill, which would slash benefits to people on SNAP. To protest the cuts, people taking the challenge will attempt to live for a week on the amount of food money allotted to people who receive SNAP benefits, $31.50 a week, or $4.50 per day.
Stockman’s office called the challenge “a left-wing publicity stunt” and claimed “Democrats have been intentionally buying overpriced food and shopping at high-priced chains to make it appear the cuts go too far.”
With his $27.58, Ferguson purchased:
Two boxes of Honeycomb cereal
Three cans of red beans and rice
Jar of peanut butter
Bottle of grape jelly
Loaf of whole wheat bread
Two cans of refried beans
Box of spaghetti
Large can of pasta sauce
Two liters of root beer
Large box of popsicles
24 servings of Wyler’s fruit drink mix
Eight cups of applesauce
Bag of pinto beans
Bag of rice
Bag of cookies
Box of instant oatmeal
He must have gotten his shopping list from Sean Hannity:
Sean Hannity today in answer to a caller who said that people couldn't relate to Mitt Romney because he'd never gone to bed hungry:
Hannity makes more than 10 million dollars a year. I'm sure he has just tons of friends who live on rice and beans.
I don't believe people are going to bed hungry. Do you know how much, do you ever go shopping? I go sometimes but I hate it. Do you ever go? ... you can get, for instance I have friends of mine who eat rice and beans all the time. Beans protein, rice. Inexpensive. You can make a big pot of this for a week for negligible amounts of money and you can feed your whole family.
Look, you should have vegetables and fruit in there as well, but if you need to survive you can survive off it. It's not ideal but you could get some cheap meat and throw in there as well for protein. There are ways to live really, really cheaply.
And as for people not going to bed hungry, this piece by Dave Johnson writing about the sequestration cuts to meals on Wheels puts the lie to that:
But wait, there’s more. The study of the results of the cuts in food to seniors found that the money saved on cutting food to seniors actually causes to government to spend more, because of what happens to seniors when you stop giving them food.
South Shore Journal: The Impact of Nutrition Program Service Cuts on a Senior Population in Northwest Indiana. From the abstract,
Low-income seniors receiving home-delivered meals in Northwest Indiana experienced service cuts in late 2010 and early 2011. Reductions came in the form of fewer food deliveries per week, less food, or new cost-sharing. Six months after the cuts began, 283 seniors who experienced reductions were surveyed. Ninety-five responded for a 34% response rate. Twenty-five percent of respondents were identified as “food insecure,” more than four times as great as statewide and national prevalence rates among seniors. A disturbingly high 35% of respondents lost weight in the six month period.
The authors warn that continued budget cuts for community-based senior nutrition programs is a penny-wise-pound-foolish fiscal policy given the documented risk of increased hospitalizations and premature nursing home admissions attributable to nutritional disorders among the elderly.
If the Hannitys and Stockmans of the world have their way, that won't happen. We'll tell the seniors to shop around for some cheaper junk food and health care.
These “cuts” don’t even actually “cut.” Because they cause the government to have to spend on “increased hospitalizations and premature nursing home admissions attributable to nutritional disorders.”