Recently, Gingrich got in some comments about Obama being the "food stamp President", saying that he had put more people on food stamps than any other President in history. There are a lot of things wrong with this statement, starting with the fact that the President doesn't put anyone on food stamps; people have to apply for themselves. Second, the food stamp program has expanded as a direct result of the unemployment rate going up and there being no jobs. And finally, as Representative Luis Gutierrez recently pointed out, Obama is not the greatest food stamp President of all time. That honor belongs to another...
Well, both Bush Presidents presided over massive expansions of the food stamp program. Why is that? Well, both happened to preside over times when jobs were lost and more people applied to the program. It makes sense, really. And remember, it's not the President's fault that so many people are using the program.
It's too bad that programs like food stamps are targeted by conservatives. After all, the program is designed to keep Americans from going hungry. Roughly half the beneficiaries are children. Another 10% are the elderly. These are people who can't provide for themselves. While some do use food stamps as a permanent source of food for their families, most don't want to be on the program. The food stamp program helps millions of Americans get what they need to survive, and we need to preserve that. While I don't think we should be in the business of helping people subsist for long periods of time, I think that the system can be made helpful, temporary, and supportive for families.
Gingrich's claims show a clear lack of understanding about how food stamps work, or that Gingrich is simply playing on the ignorance of some voters. He is trying to make Obama out to be a terrible President by tying him to food stamps, which has been a successful program. Even though Obama has presided over a rise in the number of food stamp recipients, I don't blame him, and I commend him for not cutting funding to it at a time when millions of our fellow Americans rely on that program.