Its 11:00 am
Spanning the globe....
While Newt Gingrich run for President has faded into the wind...his legacy of words are still be tossed about by the American public. Like calling President Obama the "food stamp president". Telling blacks they should demanding a paycheck instead of food stamps.
Our society is goofy...we encourage people to donate food to the poor and needy,run PSAs about 1 in 7 children go hungry at night because of a lack of food.
The media covers the very poor at Thanksgiving and Christmas time at a food kitchen eating a hot meal delivered by churches,volunteers or even the station that is covering the story. Its a "feel good"kind of story designed to tug on your hearts. And for the most part,it does.
But when those same folks are standing in line at the grocery store and they pull out a Bridge (what we call food stamps in Michigan) you get a very different reaction...people aren't so tolerant and you see the stares and hear the nasty comments. Having a Bridge card is a symbol of shame in America,a sign of poverty.
I worked at a grocery store for 7 years as a cashier and later as a store trainer and I saw Bridge cards every day in my job. Saw the customer often trying to hide the card if anyone was behind them.
I never understood this,if you have a family and you're not making it,why should you be ashamed if you need help? I did my very best to help each customer no matter how they paid. Now I'm not going to sit here and not say every case was pure and innocent. I know far better then that..fraud does happen in the Food Stamp program,the USDA,which runs the program nationally kicked over 44,000 people off the program for fraud.
Stores also abuse the program...offering cash for the cards. I saw this often in the neighborhood I grew up in..you get 500.00 in food stamps but sell the card for 300 cash. A lot of folks robbing Peter to pay Paul (or their dealers). In Pennsylvania,over 175 stores were caught paying cash for cards.
States are now tightening up the rules,fingerprinting in New York,drug testing in Florida,set limits for individuals to get off the dole. Food stamp fraud costs the US taxpayer 375 million dollars a year...(but compare that to the 60 Billion that doctors rip off Medicare,including one doctor just busted for 375 million alone!!)
What exactly are food stamps? Its federal aid designed to help people affected by poverty buy food. The program started back in the 60s and actually used to come in paper booklets with dollar amounts attached to them. This was phased out in 2004 in favor of plastic debt cards. This made it easier to stop massive postal thefts which happened quite a bit and gave the person both protection and tried to hide the stigma that using food stamps brings.
Newt Gingrich has said that more people have been on food stamps then any other president in history.
Good ol' Newt says he is a historian,well if he is,I guess he must consider yesterday to be ancient because if he had done a little research he would have discovered that food stamp use has gone up under each President since Reagan back in 1980...
While we can't argue that more folks since 2008 have added to the food stamp program is larger then any president's term,lets look at the numbers a bit more.
Last year,45 million Americans used food stamps,that equals to roughly 15% of all Americans. In 2008,28 million folks were on the program when Obama took office. But the number of folks added has risen sharply the past 10 years and actually GREW BY A HIGHER PERCENTAGE under the 8 years of George W. Bush's presidency then Obama's. I hear the teapublicans start to stammer and sputter when reading this but it was under Bush's watch then this recession hit,not Obama's.
But was the recession totally at fault for the rise? Not all the way...millions of Americans lost their jobs and went from being middle class to sliding under the poverty line,thus making them eligible for food stamps.
15% of all Americans now live under that line,1 in 7 of everyone you may meet is officially poor. An average family of 3 living under 19,090.00 per year is the poverty line now.
The average family of 2.2 members now receives around 290.00 a month,or 73.00 a week to eat on. It isn't much to feed 2 people on but food stamp spending does add up quite a bit. It has risen to 80.5 billion during the past 10 years.
Critics blame this upsurge in spending on different factors..Bush relaxed eligibility standards and an boost to benefits that Obama had to put in his stimulus bill after those millions of folks started to lose their jobs.
Obama also increased the time limits that folks could stay on the program as well as people just weren't rebounding in finding a job as quickly as they had in the past.
"No program in our government has surged more out of control more dramatically then food stamps" Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama has said. He goes on,"Do you think there are 4 times as many people who need food stamps today as in 2001?"
That is a fair question....until you realize that Alabama ranks as the 3rd poorest state in the country with over 750,000 living under the poverty line. How exactly did Sessions get elected again??
And Newt made it a point to signal out blacks as the leading food stamp users. But the percentage is this...of all food stamp users,34% are whites,22% are black,16% are Hispanic and the rest (Native Americans,Asians,etc) are the other 28%.
40% of families that on food stamps do have at least one member who WORKS a job. Again...not only did folks lose their jobs but by the time they found another one,either they had used up all of their savings and or found a another job at much lower wages thus keeping them under the poverty line.
Is there abuse? Sure there is....in New York City,they found 2,000 people using two names to draw extra benefits costing tax payers 5 million. In Michigan we had a man win a 2 million dollar lottery jackpot and still be able to use his Bridge card.
And as I said...over 44,000 people have been kicked off food stamps for abuses....which equals one tenth of one percent of program participants.
There should be no shame tied to using this program....only shame if you are abusing it.
Thanks for reading and comments are most welcome.