Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert apparently thinks the way to cut the federal deficit is by attacking the poorest and neediest Americans. And he’s willing to trot out the old tried-and-true smears that right-wingers have used for decades.
On Thursday, Gohmert offered his justification for cutting billions in assistance to low-income Americans who get support from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, commonly called “food stamps.” He told his colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives that his East Texas constituents tell him tales of food stamp recipients who purchase gourmet foods — like king crab legs — with their benefits. That angers his constituents, Gohmert says:
“Because he does pay income tax, he doesn’t get more back than he pays in, he is actually helping pay for king crab legs when he can’t pay for them for himself. We don’t want anyone to go hungry, and from the amount of obesity in this country by people who we’re told do not have enough to eat, it does seem like we could have a debate about this issue without allegations about wanting to slap down or starve children.”
We’re surprised he didn’t just brand all SNAP recipients as “welfare queens” who drive to the post office in Cadillacs to pick up their welfare checks.
(We wonder, by the way, how his constituents know a customer is using SNAP. Recipients use debit cards now, not actual food stamps. But maybe all beneficiaries look alike?)
The SNAP program, just like anything else, isn’t immune to fraud. But the data shows the rate of SNAP fraud is very low and has been dropping. Even so, Gohmert — who also thinks undocumented immigrants are bringing “terror babies” across the border — figures it’s good politics to demonize folks struggling to feed their families in tough economic times.
(Hat tip: Talking Points Memo)