So, Who Are The Welfare Junkies?

So much misdirected anger.

Over at Daily Kos, Zwoof has seen a rash of chain emails about “welfare junkies” who are “drug-fueled slackers.” Obligingly, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) has introduced the Welfare Reform Act of 2011 to discipline deadbeats on food stamps.

This is old news. It is Ronald Reagan’s “welfare queens” (1976) revisited. It is the Lee Atwater/Roger Ailes revolving door, “Willie Horton” campaign ads from 1988. It is the right blaming hurricane victims in New Orleans’ poor Lower Ninth Ward in 2005 for not leaving town in their SUVs and checking into Shreveport or Dallas hotels until Hurricane Katrina blew herself out. It is conservatives blaming the 2008 financial meltdown on the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act. The government, you see, forced private mortgage lenders and Wall Street to fatten themselves on CDOs built from the “liar loans” they invented and sold to shiftless poor people. In the United Kingdom, it is BBC’s 2010 “The Scheme,” a series critics described as “poverty porn,” depicting welfare recipients that London’s tabloid Daily Mail calls “welfare junkies” (Well, what do you know?) and “foul-mouthed, lazy scroungers, cheats, layabouts, drunks, drug addicts” leeching off “the goodwill of taxpayers.”

In 2012, it is Newt Gingrich again calling President Obama “the best food stamp president in American history” at appearances last week in New Hampshire:

“And so I’m prepared if the NAACP invites me, I’ll go to their convention and talk about why the African American community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps,” Gingrich said earlier today in Plymouth, N.H.

Echoing Lee Atwater, Gingrich again denied any tinge of racism in his phrasing. “This is not an attack … It’s not negative, it’s a fact.” But Newt knows his Republican base grinds its teeth to nubs over the thought that a lesser someone, somewhere is getting something for nothing from programs that government thugs force god-fearing conservatives to pay for with money they earned with no help from anyone anywhere since being born in little log cabins that they built themselves.

Which brings us to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) program. Food stamps. In 2009, the New York Times reported, “Even in Peoria, Ill. — Everytown, U.S.A. — nearly 40 percent of children receive aid.” In 2009, 94 percent of the program’s budget was spent on benefits. Thirty-two percent of recipients were white, 22 percent were African American, 16 percent Hispanic. Forty-seven percent of recipients were children. Another forty-four percent were nonelderly, working-age adults (ages 18 to 59), and nearly two-thirds of those were women. The rest were 60 years-old or older. SNAP provided food assistance to about 40 million Americans at a cost of $53.6 billion, 1.7 percent of $3.1 trillion in federal expenditures. (FY 2009 budget figures used for consistency among available data sets.)

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