Waging War on the Poor

Steve DainesRepublicans will tell you they don’t hate the poor–its the “deficit” they hate.  But the deficit reduction crowd is for reducing the deficit only in the screeching that passes for their rhetoric. In reality, Republican Steve Daines is pushing deep cuts to the food-stamp program or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance program (SNAP) as it is now known.  He’s combined these cuts new with wacky new restrictions.  All of this arose from long-standing hatred within the Republican Party toward poor people and minorities, as Elizabeth Drew brilliantly writes in a recent edition of Rolling Stone. 

TEA Party effigy Ronald Reagan fabricated one of Republicans’ favorite fairy tales, Drew explains.  That of the

“welfare queen” driving around in a Cadillac and the “strapping young bucks” said to be dining on T-bone steaks purchased with food stamps touched a racist nerve that is more prevalent in this country than we care to admit.

Of course, besides the racial element, among the True Believers, hurting poor people is also thought to be an effective hex against TEA Party primary challengers.

RepTomBurnettOfficialCowgirlBlogHeadshotProving once and for all  that the snake on a yellow background is the perfect symbol for the TEA Party is Tom Burnett, a former state legislator who has become obsessed with preventing poor people from getting enough to eat. For a peek into the serpents’ nest of irrationality that is this guy’s brain, look no further than the Bozeman Chronicle, which has published the latest round of Burnett’s lies, unsubstantiated anecdotes, and incoherent wackiness.  (I’m not linking to it. Reading his nonsense would mean taking 2 minutes of your life you could never get back.)

Burnett says the world’s richest nation shouldn’t help poor with a small amount of food each month because this help costs roughly $78 billion annually. Food stamps are far from an extravagant benefit–$1.40 per person per meal.  One chicken breast will cost you about $2.50.

What neither Daines nor Burnett is  telling you is that food stamps only account for 2 percent of the federal budget. Meanwhile, $154 billionin special corporate welfare went out to corporations courtesy of the GOP as part of the 2012 fiscal cliff debacle.

Burnett also wants you to believe that helping poor children get something to eat costs you thousands. Another lie. In 2012, the average American taxpayer making $50,000 per year paid just $36 towards the food stamps program. Meanwhile, the average American family pays a staggering $6,000 a year in corporate welfare to big corporations.

Congress is basically an army of incoherent Tom Burnett and Steve Daines clones who make policy by conspiracy theory or astroturfed anecdotes rather than facts.  Both seem enraptured by the fantasy that hordes of freeloaders are getting benefits they don’t “deserve” or have decided to become dependent on food stamps rather than get a job. As Rolling Stone reports this is typical of the TEA Party GOP these days.  But the facts show otherwise.

In 1996 Congress passed severe new restrictions on the SNAP program that meant adults without kids could only receive food stamps for three months within a three-year period–unless they were working at least 20 hours a week or participating in a job-training program.

This grim rule applied no matter how hard they tried to find a job and even if they hadn’t been able to get a slot in a training program… The average income of these people is about $2,500 a year, or 22 percent of the poverty level.

But if Tom Burnett is the prince of the policy by garbage anecdote ploy, Steve Daines is the king. Like Burnett Steve Daines’ attempt to justify the cuts to needy families is based on the myth that the program is full of “fraud and abuse.”  As the data shows:

SNAP error rates declined by 57% since 2000, from 9% in FY to a record low of less than 4% in 2011.

The accuracy rate of 96% (2011) is considerably higher than other major benefit programs, for example Medicare fee-for-service (91%) or Medicare Advantage Part C (89%). ” [Source]

What’s more –“two-thirds of all SNAP payment errors are a result of caseworker error.  Nearly one-fifth are underpayments,” people getting less then they need and are eligible to receive. [Source]

You’re heard the “turn around shop in town” ads that explain how $1 dollar spent in a local store is turned over and re-spent many times to help the local economy?  Works the same for food stamps. Department of Agriculture data shows that for every $5 spent on food stamps, up to $9 is generated in economic activity for local communities. Even George W. Bush understood the efficiencies, economic benefits and positive economic impact of food stamps.  As FactCheck.org points out, 14.7 million Americans were added to the food stamp rolls by Bush.

Of 126,000 people statewide that get a small amount of help paying for food each month in Montana, nearly half are children 55,000 of those are children. Nine thousand are seniors. That’s a lot of people who will be impacted by Steve Daines’ most recent cuts.



29 Comments on "Waging War on the Poor"

  1. Two things –

    1) Backdrop this cut (made days before the federal government shutdown) to the 20 BILLION DOLLARS that the shutdown cost American taxpayers. Fiscal responsibility my ass. If the Republican party had brain one in their head, they would be breaking their arms trying to restore the money to the SNAP program as fast as the legislation could be written. Believe me when I say that this WILL be an issue come November of next year. What makes this sad state of affairs even more critical (at least for the Republicans) is that a significant portion of the people who will receive cuts to their food stamps are military families – the traditional golden calf for the Republicans.

    2) This issue will only get worse if the Congressional Republicans have their way. One of the things on the table in the so called “Budget talks” is a further cut to the SNAP program as well as cuts to other programs aimed at the working poor.

    This is a personal issue for me – not because I am on food stamps, but because my daughter, her husband and their four kids are – MY GRANDKIDS. Both my daughter and my son in law work at near minimum wage jobs – even juggling their schedule so they don’t have to pay much in daycare – but they are still almost 35% BELOW the poverty line and putting good food on the table is difficult. This month, it got even more difficult since their food stamp allowance dropped over 100$.

    We are helping them make ends meet but what about the other 49,999,994 people trying to figure out how to make ends meet? What happens to them when the food runs out before the end of the month? The food banks across the country are gearing up to meet the expected demand but even they are feeling the pinch. Since many of those receive some kind of federal subsidy, and most of those subsidies are either being reduced or removed altogether, how are they suppose to meet the demand?

    The idea that the “richest country in the world” can’t feed it’s own people is so morally corrupt as to be criminal. Vote these assholes out of office and get people that can actually service the NEEDS of the people of the United State before they start handing out tax breaks and subsidies to companies that profit billions off our dime.

    • Apparently, these conservatives are OK with the [unsustainable] transfer of wealth you describe. The root problem: your kids aren’t paid enough. Their employers can’t afford to charge what products and services are really worth (which would include paying people fair wages). Super-cheap products and services are available right now because people are being paid pocket change and you’re making up for our general tightwad-ishness.

    • I also have a daughter, son-in-law and two grand-kids using SNAP, as they moved last year from OK to ‘TeaTard’ Texas, home of King Kruz and the Krazies, aka, KKK. Texas millionaires used to be the ‘Repubs’, but how so many of the workin’ class seduced into becoming teabaggers is astounding. What’s more disturbing are the things said about the President by my son-in-law’s brother that I won’t write here, but you can imagine birther crap and WORSE, yet the hater’s brother is feeding his family with Uncle Sam’s help. Would those baggers think – if they could – back to when their grandparents struggled in the Great Depression and survived thanks to the ‘socialist’ FDR and the NRA, WPA, CCE, and projects that held America together while Wall Street was unaccountable then as it is now, with the DOW at RECORD high again while Veterans get their little allotment of nutrition CUT, damn ’em!!!!!!!!!

      • Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | November 6, 2013 8:55 PM at 8:55 PM |

        Only two types of Pubbies, Pubbly, rich guys and suckers! There’s a whole lotta suckers in texass!….and North texass, Montany!

  2. Another important back drop to these cuts is that Steve Daines’ rhetoric is complete and total bullshit. I’ve pasted what he told the Gazette below. Here’s why he’s full of it.

    Daines claims the cuts are a “slight” reduction – but he’s pulling a slight of hand trick here.

    1) Daines is claiming that the cuts are small by separating the cuts from the “eliminating a policy” provision – which is just another cut.

    The policies Daines is talking about –restricting categorical eligibility –that means making it so no one without kids–such as seniors) can get any food stamps–ever–even for three months every three years. So may not be a direct percentage cut to benefit levels, it’s just not true to try to suggest that they will not results in cuts to benefits. Families, seniors, people with disabilities who lose benefits because of changes in eligibility rules or enrollment processes will feel just as much pain as if they had received a straightforward cut to their paltry benefit allotment.

    2)Now let’s look at Daines’ other statement – saying that if you get another benefit you can’t get help with food. Does he mean people have to choose to give up Medicare or Medicaid if they want help with food? What a guy!

    3) Finally, Daines wants you to believe that these cuts are about reducing “fraud” and “waste” as I wrote about above. But the thing is, with SNAP’s exceptional efficiency, it just is not possible to achieve significant savings without directly harming participants. That’s because 95 percent of federal SNAP spending goes directly to benefits and the remaining spending covers important services like employment and training services that help participants move from welfare to work, nutrition education that empowers individuals to make healthy choices on a limited budget, and federal oversight and trafficking prevention for the roughly 200,000 retail stores that accept SNAP benefits.

    Compare this to the new ACA requirement that insurance companies spend no more than 15-20 percent on administrative costs and you’ll see how efficient that is.

    4) And one more thing – the “150% increase to the program” that Daines says happened over the past 6 years that he wants you to believe justifies what he falsely claims if a 5% cut–that’s not because of changes to the law that made more people eligible –that’s because of the recession! The U.S. has the highest unemployment rates the country has seen in 30 years. SNAP numbers always follow unemployment numbers, with a slight lag as people get back on their feet, and so as unemployment goes down, so will SNAP participation.

    Now that you know the facts, here is his “statement” to the Gazette

    Daines said the House-approved cut represents a slight percent reduction in the food stamp program. Republicans’ intent is to rid the food stamp program of “waste, fraud and abuse,” he said, namely by eliminating food stamp policy that automatically grants eligibility to poor people who already qualify for other forms of public assistance.

    “Overall, if you look on the national level, it’s about a 5 percent reduction,” Daines said. “That’s in the context that food stamps have increased 150 percent in the last six years. And we’re talking about a 5 percent decrease.

  3. Daines is a known liar – He lied to this college student about the cuts too. http://www.msubretort.org/2013/10/let-them-eat-cake/

    “I met Daines when he was here on campus during the campaign season and he told me that he was for Montanans. He lied to my face. If Steve Daines was for Montanans he would not vote for things that allowed them to starve. If Steve Daines was for Montanans he would listen to his constituents when they told him that they wanted him to vote against the cuts to SNAP. If Steve Daines was for Montanans he wouldn’t lie to our faces and then turn around to blindly follow John Boehner into the Tea Party hell hole funded by the Koch brothers.”

  4. Scum. How terrible of a person do you have to be to give billions away to GM et al and then take food from kids mouths. Is that what Jesus would do Steve? You should think long and hard about that.

  5. When, O when will we start mandating that basic Economics be taught in high schools??

    • I agree MT Native Eyes – you will recall during the last legislative session when people tried to explain to republicans how investing federal dollars from the medicaid expansion created thousands of jobs throughout the state –not just medical jobs, but jobs created by the money doctors, nurses, and medical billing staff spent in their local shoe stores, grocery stores, and mechanics garages. The GOP were not sophisticated enough intellectually to comprehend the concept. It should be taught in schools –I hope it will be–perhaps this is why republicans hate the Common Core standards so much -they don’t want an informed citizenry…

  6. SNAP fraud runs around 1%. They want to root out fraud in the farm bill, have a look-see at crop insurance or all those subsidies to corporate ‘farmers.’ Ooops. No one wants to accuse the rich of fraud. Only the poor.

  7. boy, if I saw these guys in church, I would be sure to take a few steps away, I would hate to be struck by the lightning that might strike these yip yos for pretending to follow Jesus’ example and then pulling some incredibly anti-Christian stances like not wanting to feed the poor. Loving thy neighbor and feeding the poor are two of the bigger tenants of the Christian faith.

  8. The war of attrition on Americans!

  9. Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | November 6, 2013 6:54 PM at 6:54 PM |

    POPE KOCKH THE FIRST…..AND SECOND! Geez, all you lowlifes, keep poopin’ out them little worker bees so’s that we can be like all them OTHER third world countries! America, the dumbest populace in the world!


  10. I watched the dipshit announce his run for the senate on tv. It appeared that he had his two token minorities there and a bunch of rather well dressed folks including his prime benefactor and former employer. I wondered about the “American” values that he talks about and how they dovetail with values that Montanans have, especially the Montanans that are being kicked out of the food stamp program.

    • Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | November 6, 2013 7:36 PM at 7:36 PM |

      A little, tiny Kockh brother, a limp, flaccid, erectile CHALLENGED little kockh, but a kockh none-the-less, Dipshit Daines! He wants SO badly to be a big kockh, but alas, he’s a limp dick!


    • The TV ‘rollout’ cosmetically prepared, with colored (yes, that’s acceptable language to describe their two people of color) Bobcat quarterback leading the Pledge of Allegiance, and not missing a beat on liberty and justice for all, and the other colored veteran of mixed background sporting a ‘Veterans for Daines’ shirt….really, after shutting down VA disability claims, putting VA into emergency mode and just plain discouraging other veterans to lose faith entirely in the government that ‘Shutdown’ Steve was an architect of MONTHS before, as noted on TV tonight General Walsh’s counter-attack online ad, putting shutdown squarely on Daine’s chin. Gosh, I wonder how many MILLIONS acquired by Daine’s company in Bozeman from Uncle Sam, that helped CREATE jobs, duh!!?? Daines keeps using mantra of ‘less ‘gummin’t, more jobs’ but when the ‘gummint’ sent ’em lots of federal dough which helped JOB creation, did Daines
      and his self-serving boss say no, can’t help increase that deficit? Daines is yet another ‘slick’ corporate ‘face’ that likes to court Wall Street (which is what the tea party was angry with right?) and teabaggers alike, all serving the Koch masters.

      • Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | November 6, 2013 8:12 PM at 8:12 PM |

        Geez, Pubbly, how ’bout them inbreds in GF electing stumpy winters once again as mayor?! A truly reprehensible troll of a man! Every retired Air Farce dude in GG must’a fell for state side stumpy’s schtick! Poor stumpy, the GREAT patriot, never MADE it over seas. But by GOD stumpy’s gonna tell everyone ELSE just how patriotic he is! What a saw off BUFFOON!

        • GF = gullible falls….animal shelter fiasco, overfield persecutions, industrial parks shuffle, ecp debacle, etc, etc., etc. 15.3 million LOST and ‘nobody’ accountable? That’s why citizens so apathic, and I wish more were just plain ANGRY.

          • Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | November 6, 2013 9:01 PM at 9:01 PM |

            I simply must tell my stumpy winter’s story. I had never met stumpy, but his grandson, a decent kid for sure, went to Central Catholic here in GF where I was teaching. Well, I was licensed to drive the bus, so I drove the BB team up to Dutton to play. Stumpy’s grandson came out on the floow to warm up with the other kids, and happened to be wearing some rather long socks as high school kids are want to do. Well, when stumpy saw them socks, he let loose in a voice LOUD enough for the entire gym to hear, “hey, where did you get them nigger socks”? That was my first encounter with blowhard, idiot, tiny troll of a man stumpy winters! He is NOT the “honorable man” all the retired lifers in GF think he is. He’s a racist jerk! True story.

            • Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | November 6, 2013 9:04 PM at 9:04 PM |

              It was embarrassing beyond belief to have one of our group use such language. I was taken aback. I didn’t know what to do. So, I just let is slide for future reference. So, here it is! Our mayor, the honorable stumpy winters, racist asshole and jerk! And total embarrassment to our fair city.

  11. Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | November 6, 2013 9:07 PM at 9:07 PM |
  12. Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | November 6, 2013 9:25 PM at 9:25 PM |

    billy graham war criminal? Why yes he is! He’ll be in hell with the dick, cheney, and the dick, Nixon.


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