CNNMoney recently looked at the remarks that presidential candidate Newt Gingrich made about President Obama being the “food stamp president.” CNN found that 44.7 million people or 1 in 7 Americans were on food stamps last year. That doesn’t necessarily make Obama the “food stamp president” according to CNN, however.
The presidential race for GOP nomination has often been messy. There is only one spot and Gingrich hasn’t been able to secure it. His remark set fire to other claims that Obama has turned to socialism and is also the “welfare president,” but continuously referring to Obama’s plans to create more food stamp plans and showing that more people are on food stamps—isn’t really all Obama’s fault. There is the economy and unemployment to consider as well.
While more people have signed up for food stamps, thanks in some part to Obama’s 2009 Recovery Act, according to CNN, the number of people in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has risen up to 33 percent more from 2009. Obama’s Recovery Act stimulus package made it easier for jobless, childless adults to qualify for the program, increasing the monthly benefit by about 15 percent through 2013. In 2011, the government spent more than $75 billion on food stamps, which provided an average monthly benefit to families of $133.85 a month.
This story isn’t just about the statistics and numbers. While those are telling about the state of our economy and family welfare, it isn’t just Obama that’s creating this need for more social welfare programs. While food stamp enrollment continued to rise, it was President Bush who also pushed up the average during his presidency, rising the numbers up by 63 percent over an eight year period.
What Newt has failed to realize is that there is a new America out there, and they don’t have jobs or unemployment checks. Food stamps have become one of the only lifelines for millions of those who are long-term employed. With more than 20 percent of those who are unemployed being so for more than six months, these are the people who are receiving benefits, which is according to Congress’ Joint Economic Committee.
While the programs have continued to receive more funding, it isn’t without necessity. Lawmakers have shown that the unemployment rate has remained too high for too long. Programs like food stamps are the only reason that some families are able to make it through another month, and when spread across a month, the benefits are not exactly the most forgiving on the budget.