Crabby Conservatives

I read this story in a state of semi-disbelief. In my entire life I have never once even noticed someone paying with food stamps, no less inspected what they purchased. What is wrong with people???

And why do so many believe that being poor means you should suffer the most possible pain and never have any pleasure at all? A little boy shouldn't have a birthday cake! Imagine what kind of black-hearted, twisted-soul monster you have to be to be bothered by that. Wow. The lives of the crabs in this article must be beyond miserable. I would so much rather have a smile in my heart than this misery. I am very thankful I was not born the way these misers were. I am very lucky.

WASHINGTON -- Janina Riley noticed a woman muttering behind her in the checkout line as she paid for food at a Giant Eagle grocery store in Pittsburgh last April.

"I can't believe she's buying that big-ass cake with food stamps," the woman said, according to Riley.

Riley, 19, had just used a government-issued debit card to pay for most of her groceries, which included a cake for her son that said "Happy First Birthday Xavier" in a theme from the movie "Cars." She glared at the women for a second, then decided to confront her.

"I was just like, 'Shut the fuck up,'" Riley said. "You don't know what I'm doing with these food stamps."

But many Americans do not want to let people on food stamps eat cake. This sentiment is particularly prevalent among conservatives in Congress. Cash register resentment of the sort directed at Riley feeds Republican animus toward the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

It's a petty path toward a huge target: As SNAP enrollment has surged to nearly 50 million in the wake of the Great Recession, the program's annual cost has more than doubled to $80 billion. Republicans want to shrink those numbers, but they missed their best chance in June, when a trillion-dollar farm bill failed in the House of Representatives, after the GOP sought deeper cuts than Democrats would accept.

Following the vote, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) got to work telling a familiar story, one he said he'd heard many times from broken-hearted and angry constituents. Its protagonist is a hardworking Texan waiting in line at the grocery store. Someone's buying Alaskan king crab legs in front of him, and he's looking at them longingly, dreaming of the day he can afford such a luxury. Then the person buying them whips out his EBT -- an Electronic Benefits Transfer card for food stamps.

"He looks at the king crab legs and looks at his ground meat and realizes," Gohmert said, "because he does pay income tax ... he is actually helping pay for the king crab legs when he can't pay for them for himself."

And that's how cash register resentment becomes crabby conservatism -- the belief that your own struggles are tangled up in another person's safety net.

RIB-EYE STEAKS AND WINE

Janina Riley said the situation at Giant Eagle didn't escalate after she confronted the mumbling woman. She figured it wouldn't have started at all if the person had known that she was studying to become a nurse, and that she already worked more than 30 hours a week as an aide in a nursing home.

People have to be poor in order to receive nutrition assistance. The maximum gross monthly income for SNAP eligibility in Pennsylvania, for instance, is $2,018 for a household of two, and the family can't own assets worth more than $5,500 (though there are several exceptions, like a single car). Most recipients qualify based on their participation in another means-tested program like Medicaid.

At $10 per hour, Riley's wages leave her poor enough to qualify for $124 a month in food stamps. At the Giant Eagle that day, she used her full monthly benefit to pay for part of her cart full of food and roughly $80 of her own money for the rest.

"Most people do work. It's just we don't make enough money, that's the problem," Riley said. "The biggest misconception is that people on food stamps sit on their butts all day."

She's part of the 30 percent of SNAP recipients who earn money by working, and the 91 percent whose annual incomes are at or below the poverty line. Most recipients are either children, elderly or disabled.

But in the public imagination, hard-working single moms rent a room with king crab welfare queens.

It's a gripe going back at least 20 years. In 1993, the Columbus Dispatch ran a letter to the editor lamenting a food stamp recipient buying "two bottles of wine, steak and a large bag of king crab legs.''

The crab complaint has recurred more than a dozen times in newspapers around the country, including this 2007 missive from a reader in the Myrtle Beach Sun-News: "After working a typical 12-hour shift, I had to stop by the local grocery store. Standing in line behind an oversized woman with three kids, I noticed the items going through the checkout. She had two 10-pound packs of frozen crab legs and two large packs of rib-eye steaks among a couple of vegetable items totaling up to an excess of $60."

Nutrition assistance is a federal program administered by states at the ground level. State and federal lawmakers have long sought new restrictions on what nutrition assistance can buy. Fancy food stories are often the reason. For instance, Wisconsin state Rep. Dean Kaufert (R-Neenah) cited cash register situations as his rationale for a bill restricting food stamp purchases earlier this year.

"Anecdotally, we’ve all heard the stories about people standing in line behind the person who is buying the tenderloin, the porterhouse and they’re using their EBT card to do it, while you and I who are getting by, we’re buying ground beef," Kaufert told a local radio station. "That’s a small share of those folks. But also I’ve been at the convenience store many times -- the amount of nachos and soda that’s being purchased by kids with their parents’ EBT card, I think it’s time to say no to that."

In June, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg led a coalition of big-city mayors asking Congress to restrict food stamps from paying for soda in the name of fighting obesity.

Junk food and crab legs aren't even the worst of it. "Every day we hear of reports of food stamps being used to pay for beer, cigarettes, cell phone bills, and even cars," Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.) said on the U.S. Senate floor in February. "That hardly needs to be mentioned because it is something we have come to understand -- there is a lot of misuse of tax dollars."

Elizabeth Lower-Basch, an analyst for the Center for Law and Social Policy, noted the secondhand nature of many of the anecdotes.

"It's definitely a meme. You hear it a lot," Lower-Basch said. "There's a lot of a-friend-told-me-she-saw type stories. I'm not going to tell you there aren't cases of people making lousy choices, but they are far more visible in the public imagination."

'PLAIN-OUT HATEFUL'

Federal law says food stamps can't be used to buy booze, cigarettes, vitamins, or household supplies. But they can buy almost anything else at a supermarket, so long as it isn't served hot for immediate consumption. So what do people buy with SNAP?

A government survey from the late-'90s found that meats accounted for 34.9 percent of food stamp purchases, grains 19.7 percent, fruits and veggies 19.6 percent, and dairy products 12.5 percent. Soft drinks made up 5.6 percent and sweets 2.5 percent.

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The wonderful thing is they all want to force people to be born to endure their bullying!
 
This kind of stuff really gets me. If people knew how much of their tax bill went to food stamps instead of, say, the Iraq War, it might give them some perspective.

Conservative priorities are generally way, way out of whack.
 
This kind of stuff really gets me. If people knew how much of their tax bill went to food stamps instead of, say, the Iraq War, it might give them some perspective.

Conservative priorities are generally way, way out of whack.

They really are. I have seen people write that conservatives thrive on resentment. And that conservative politicians exploit that. I think it's true. Conservatives just seem to be, generally speaking, much more resentful people.
 
This kind of stuff really gets me. If people knew how much of their tax bill went to food stamps instead of, say, the Iraq War, it might give them some perspective.

Conservative priorities are generally way, way out of whack.

But killing thousands of people is FUN! And the unifying conservative emotion is SPITE!
 
Thanks, Darla. I don't know when people became so judgmental about the contents of someone else's grocery basket.

I was on a thread on a different board where someone was simultaneously complaining about people buying steaks with food stamps and that they buy unhealthy food.

I was "Really? so you want them to buy the cheapest ground beef, which can be pretty unhealthy, or do you want them to buy the healthier meat?" If they are really hungry, cheap food often has more calories, so cake, chips, etc. may make sense.

There are restrictions on food stamps, and some of them don't make sense - I think I saw one time where a woman had to replace "sharp" cheddar with "medium" cheddar because the sharp wasn't allowed, or something odd like that.

But in general - if someone is poor enough to be on food stamps, they have enough problems in their life without me judging what they put in their basket. It's up to them to do what they think is best for them and their family.

And really - being pissed about a bday cake? Some people have to go watch Scrooge again...

From your post above -
A government survey from the late-'90s found that meats accounted for 34.9 percent of food stamp purchases, grains 19.7 percent, fruits and veggies 19.6 percent, and dairy products 12.5 percent. Soft drinks made up 5.6 percent and sweets 2.5 percent.

that sounds pretty reasonable.
 
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Thanks, Darla. I don't know when people became so judgmental about the contents of someone else's grocery basket.

I was on a thread on a different board where someone was simultaneously complaining about people buying steaks with food stamps and that they buy unhealthy food.

I was "Really? so you want them to buy the cheapest ground beef, which can be pretty unhealthy, or do you want them to buy the healthier meat?" If they are really hungry, cheap food often has more calories, so cake, chips, etc. may make sense.

There are restrictions on food stamps, and some of them don't make sense - I think I saw one time where a woman had to replace "sharp" cheddar with "medium" cheddar because the sharp wasn't allowed, or something odd like that.

But in general - if someone is poor enough to be on food stamps, they have enough problems in their life without me judging what they put in their basket. It's up to them to do what they think is best for them and their family.

And really - being pissed about a bday cake? Some people have to go watch Scrooge again...

From your post above -

Well said.
 
their whole world seems to revolve arround seeing other human beings as bad.

it seems the only way they can feel good about themselves is to see others as bad
 
ROFL

Look at the liberals whine about the mean old Republicans and how dare they tell someone what they should eat when the taxpayers are picking up the tab.

Meanwhile in Obamaland, his USDA Stormtroopers are enforcing the following rule for all public schools: Vending machines in public middle and high schools nationwide will no longer be able to distribute snacks like powdered doughnuts, candy bars, chips and soda. Instead, the machines will be filled with healthier alternatives like granola bars, fruit cups, peanuts and flavored water – all of which must be under 200 calories per serving.

And lets not even think about all the strip clubs, bars and gambling establishments that EBT cards have been used at.
 
ROFL

Look at the liberals whine about the mean old Republicans and how dare they tell someone what they should eat when the taxpayers are picking up the tab.

Meanwhile in Obamaland, his USDA Stormtroopers are enforcing the following rule for all public schools: Vending machines in public middle and high schools nationwide will no longer be able to distribute snacks like powdered doughnuts, candy bars, chips and soda. Instead, the machines will be filled with healthier alternatives like granola bars, fruit cups, peanuts and flavored water – all of which must be under 200 calories per serving.

And lets not even think about all the strip clubs, bars and gambling establishments that EBT cards have been used at.

Decent people want to keep others alive, whereas the right want them to get obese on shit-for-profit and die? Well, we know that, man!
 
Listen to any repeublican and it wont take long before they are capping on someone to PROVE how wonderful they are by default
 
Damn Socialists at the USDA preventing the good wholesome capitalists at PepsiCo, Coca-Cola and Frito Lay from the captive youth markets.
 
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