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George W Bush – Food Stamp President

June 8, 2012

Republicans have been going on for months now calling Barack Obama the “Food Stamp President”. John Hinderaker is doing it again.

You get the picture. Under Barack Obama, food stamps have exploded to become one of the largest federal spending programs. This is partly because of the lousy Obama economy, of course, but it goes much farther than that: food stamp spending has skyrocketed because the Democrats want dependency on welfare programs to be the rule, not the exception. Barack Obama is indeed the nation’s first food stamp president.

Really, John? Partly because of the lousy economy? Democrats want dependency on welfare programs? Your economic and political ignorance seem to know no bounds! What are the thoughts of the Economist on the subject?

Of course, Barack Obama has put no one on food stamps. Population growth together with the most severe recession since the advent of the modern American welfare state, which was in full swing when Mr Obama came into office, conspired to make a record number eligible for government food assistance. The Obama administration has moved to expand eligibility for the SNAP program, but the initiative has not come to fruition.

This republican talking point seems to have originated with Newt Gingrich’s comment – mentioned in the Economist article:

“First of all, Juan, more people have been put on food stamps by Barack Obama than any president in history. I know among the politically correct you’re not supposed to use facts that are uncomfortable.”

Ignoring for a moment the fact that the recession (which started over a year before Obama took office) is responsible for the increase in food stamp use, let’s see if Gingrich’s comment is at least factually correct. Have more people been added to the food stamp rolls under Obama than any president in history?

Obama took office in January 2009. Using the total from February 2009 as a baseline, there were 32.3 million people on food stamps. The latest total is 46.4 million. Under Obama, food stamp recipients increased by 14.1 million or 44%.

Under Bush, food stamp recipients rose from 17.3 million to 32.3 million – an increase of 15.0 million or 87%.

So, even putting intelligent economic analysis aside, Gingrich was still wrong. More people were put on food stamps by George W. Bush than any president in history.


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