Tuesday, January 31st, 2012
Newt Gingrich has been repeating ad nauseam his claim that Barack Obama is “the best food stamp president in American history.” However, this is not true.
Newt Gingrich claims that “more people have been put on food stamps by Barack Obama than any president in American history.” He’s wrong. More were added under Bush than under Obama, according to the most recent figures. [emphasis added]
…To be exact, the program has so far grown by 444,574 fewer recipients during Obama’s time in office than during Bush’s.
In a Businessweek article, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack criticizes Mr. Gingrich’s remarks:
Those who get the federal assistance “are playing by the rules,” Vilsack, whose department administers food stamps, said yesterday in an interview with Bloomberg News. “There are misconceptions about this program and confusion” about recipients caused by negative portrayals by some Obama opponents, he said.
Given the program’s importance in keeping working families out of poverty, it also shouldn’t be mischaracterized as a handout for the undeserving, he said.
To start with, “food stamps” is not even the proper terminology. The program’s name has been changed to Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP). Contrary to Mr. Gingrich’s insinuations, more whites are on SNAP than African Americans. Here is some demographic information about SNAP recipients:
- 35.7% of participants are white (non-Hispanic)
- 22% of participants are African-American (non-Hispanic)
- 10% of participants are Hispanic
- 47% of SNAP beneficiaries are under 18 years of age
- 8% of SNAP beneficiaries are 60 years of age or older
- 56% of SNAP beneficiaries are women
- Single parents (usually a mother) headed more than half of all SNAP households with children
- 41% of recipients are part of a household with earned income (the “working poor”)
- 85.3% of SNAP households live in poverty