Groan.

Food Stamps: The Safety Net That Deserves Its Name — The Nation

. . . Ryan’s proposal, and the House budget that grew out of it, were defeated, but not without winning the support of almost every Republican in the House. And now there’s the sudden surge of Republican presidential front-runner Newt Gingrich, which can only portend ill for food stamps. Gingrich has been lobbing anti-SNAP bombs for months, but his most infamous, issued in May and repeated in December, was his slam calling Obama the “food stamp president” — a declaration of barely coded racism that harked back to decades of racially inspired attacks on food stamps, most notably Reagan’s slur about “strapping young bucks” dining out on T-bone steaks. Equally troubling, Jeff Sessions, an Alabama Republican with a record of racebaiting, led a charge in the Senate this past fall to “reform” food stamps by restricting eligibility and undoing a planned $9 billion budget increase, supposedly to crack down on fraud and government excess. (Notably, food stamp errors have reached record lows in recent years: only 2.7 percent of program costs in 2009, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reported.)

The deep racism at the heart of conservative food stamp critiques offers at least one clue as to why the Obama administration has been unable or unwilling to champion SNAP as a valuable recession antidote: as the nation’s first African-American president, Obama is vulnerable to racist innuendo, which his opponents are only too happy to exploit. Just two months after Gingrich made his “food stamp president” comment, another would-be president, Rick Santorum, picked up the theme, accusing Obama, absurdly, of “pushing more people on food stamps.”

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HT: MK