Monday, August 29, 2011

More Than 15% Of Texans Use Food Stamps

GOP presidential hopeful Rick Perry blasts President Obama for Food Stamp numbers, ignores Texas statistics...

Food Stamps have become a political hot potato for President Obama, thanks to the fact that a record number of Americans--more than 45.7 million, according to the latest figures available--are enrolled in the federal nutrition program. In May, GOP stalwart Newt Gingrich dubbed Mr. Obama "the Food Stamp President," and on Saturday, Texas Governor Rick Perry also waved the Food Stamp flag. At a presidential campaign event at the Polk County GOP summer picnic at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, Perry told a crowd of about 400 that President Obama has "driven the economy into a ditch," resulting in one in eight Iowans being forced to use Food Stamps, and Iowa losing 12,100 jobs since President Obama’s Stimulus package was approved in February of 2009.  (Above: Perry at the event)

“That is a testament to the widespread misery created by this administration, that the state known for feeding the world has so many residents now dependent on their government just to pay for food, " Perry said, according to the Des Moines Register.

But while Perry credited the "misery" to Mr. Obama, the Register--as well as many other commercial media outlets reporting the story, including Fox News, Washington Post, and the massively syndicated AP--failed to point out that Perry, since 2000, has been in charge of a state that has plenty of its own "misery." Texas is historically one of the top three states in the US for Food Stamp usage. As of February of 2011, 3,482,601 Texans used Food Stamps, which is 15.4% of the state's population, or about one in seven Texans. That number was more than an 11% increase from the previous year.

Iowa had 12% of its population enrolled in the federal program in the same time period, with an increase of 8.5% from the year before.

Lest there be quibbles about scale--tiny Iowa vs. giant Texas--the Longhorn State is beating America's most populous state, California, for Food Stamp usage. Texas has over 25 million residents, while California has over 37 million residents. But California has 3,185,154 citizens who use Food Stamps (13.6% of the population), which is 297,447 fewer beneficiaries than in Texas.

Perry also told the crowd that it was "shocking" that their state's former two-term Governor, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, recently referred to Food Stamps as an economic stimulus.

“Food stamps are not the solution. They’re a symptom of the problem that 2 million people are without work," Perry said, as the crowd booed.

"Every dollar of SNAP benefits generates $1.84 in the economy in terms of economic activity," Vilsack said during an MSNBC interview from Iowa on Aug. 16th. "If people are able to buy a little more in the grocery store, someone has to stock it, package it, shelve it, process it, ship it. All of those are jobs. It's the most direct stimulus you can get in the economy during these tough times."

Perry said he's more qualified than President Obama to hold office, pointing to his job creation record as Governor of Texas to prove his point. But perhaps in Texas, creating jobs has little to do with keeping citizens off Food Stamps.

*AP photo

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