America's Food-for-Votes Program

by WENDY MCELROY
Wendy McElroy
Feb. 19, 2013

During his 2012 bid to become the Republican nominee for President, Newt Gingrich repeatedly called Barack Obama “the food-stamp President.” From the time Obama assumed office in January 2009 through October 2012, the number of people on food stamps spiked from 31.9 million to 47.5, according to the U.S. government’s own data. That is a rise of nearly 50 percent to a peak of 1 in 7 Americans and 1 in 4 children participating. The program's cost has more than doubled in four years, from $30 billion to $72 billion. So, it seems, there was plenty of bread to go with the electoral circus.

The food stamp program's new name is Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Critics claim it is economically unsustainable, widely abused, and the harbinger of a colossal welfare state. Advocates insist SNAP is the result of recession—a humanitarian necessity—and that food is a human right. But it is difficult to square food-stamp humanitarianism with other policies issuing from the White House, which add up to an attempt to make people dependent.

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