We only have to go back to Wednesday for today’s quote of note by the GOP’s new front-runner. Apparently taken aback by Mitt Romney’s complete distortion of a statement by Barack Obama, Gingrich came up with this beauty according to a blog by ABC News that I learned about from Andrew Sullivan’s site:
“This is the best food stamp president in history so more Americans now get food stamps therefore and we now give it away as cash. You don’t get food stamps. You get a credit card and the credit card can be used for anything. We’ve had people take their food stamp money and use it to go to Hawaii. And you know, they give food stamps now to millionaires.”
There are not many issues I have direct knowledge of, but the Food Stamp Program (now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) is one of them. Here are the actual facts:
- Food stamps have not been used in decades. For years, benefits have been issued by an Electronic Benefits Card (akin to an ATM card).
- The card can only be used for food products, and it has a defined limit. It is not a credit card.
- Benefits are for those with low income, not millionaires. In Massachusetts, for example, a family of three with net income of $600 per month would get SNAP benefits of $346 per month. Benefits disappear altogether when net income reaches $1750 per month.
If Gingrich’s point is that there is fraud in the program, that is not a shocker. Of course, there is fraud in the program just as there is fraud in every government program. To take just one example — say Freddie Mae and Freddie Mac — there is undoubtedly fraud in their contracts. Is there fraud in the private sector, say on Wall Street? (That one is rhetorical.)
I do not know what his point is. The ABC blog notes that expanding eligibility for food stamps began during the Bush Administration, and I know that efforts to expand accessibility to the program go back at least that far.
Perhaps his only real point is that he is not going to allow Mitt Romney to be the only one making outrageously false statements.