Fox News Business host Stuart Varney: The president really has transformed America from a dynamic, prosperous growth economy into a bureaucracy that redistributes wealth. Here's the numbers: 101 million Americans currently receive some kind of food aid from the federal government. 101 million. Currently, 97 million Americans work full time. Now that's an extraordinary situation.It takes a warped mind to note that 47 million people get food assistance and, instead of asking why that might be, demand that we knock that off. Feeding 10 million children breakfast seems like it should be a point of national pride, not an opportunity to question whether or not children really need a breakfast. That it's the voice of a "business" network saying those things puts it in an even worse light; we can structure our entire economy around the urgent needs of a group of bankers that f--ked up their bets, but we can't feed lower income children because that wouldn't be rewarding the right behavior? Nowhere in any of it is the notion that President Barack Obama did not particularly desire to have a hemorrhaging economy, crisis levels of unemployment or 47 million Americans who need help acquiring the most basic necessities of life, but an unnamed something did that for him, a something that Stuart Varney in particular might have heard about but which now escapes them all.
You've got nearly 47 million on food stamps. That's one in six of the population. You've got 32 million getting school lunches, free or at virtually no cost. 10 Million get school breakfast free or at virtually no cost. Women, infants, and children, the WIC program, 8 million there. The milk and summer food program goes to 2 million people. Farmers' market coupons are given away to nearly 2 million women and children.
Fox & Friends resident lamppost Steve Doocy: You know, the bad news is the fact that since now more people are not working than are working, that are in assistance, is the people who are working, their taxes are going to go up.
Varney: Yes, that's precisely right. It is income redistribution, and you cannot reverse it. Well, you can reverse it—
Doocy: Once you start getting stuff for free, you don't want to give it up.
All available evidence suggests that we have been very, very good at redistributing wealth over the last few decades. We've been regularly taking more from the poor and giving more to the rich, and people like Stuart Varney appear on television to get visibly offended if anyone suggests that we might at least give the poor enough food to stay alive as a consolation prize. Forget compassion and, if nothing else, think raw preservation: Even the worst dictators have known that the citizens needed bread with their circuses. Compassion often had considerably less to do with the policy than the desire of leadership to keep their heads firmly attached to the rest of their bodies.
The number of business leaders (and unrepentant propagandists like Doocy, and wealth pornographers like Varney) who have had their heads detached from national reality for some time now hasn't gotten any better since the financial crisis. The "wealth redistribution" to the top has only gotten worse, and yet there is no hint whatsoever that people like Stuart Varney will puzzle out cause and effect, here. We know that there are more unemployed Americans than their are jobs for them to take, so the bootstrap approach will simply not work. Tough love tends to not work on things like malnutrition. There are few among the working poor that would not gladly take a better job that pays them a better wage rather than needing to rely on the pissantly small government assistance. (And it is that working part Doocy flubs, obviously, but he flubs it because he is the network moron and not because of anything more devious. Many of the people needing assistance in order to eat do indeed have jobs, but when we propose that the vast and profitable corporations that employ them pay them enough to keep themselves alive for their trouble, those companies threaten to bolt from any city that tries it.)
So yes, it is the taxpayers that are picking up the tab. They pick up the tab out of basic human decency, and because much of the nation recognizes that they are a bad week or two from ending up in the same leaky boat. And the programs work, and the children get fed, and the adults get to keep scrounging away, perhaps remembering better times, probably wondering what will happen when it gets worse.
We've been redistributing the wealth plenty, of late. It's going to the top, and it's going right to their heads, and those heads have been getting considerably fatter by the year. Careful that you keep those things firmly on your shoulders, boys, because the bread's been sparse and the circuses these days just aren't what they used to be.
Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2012—House Republicans plan to throw as many as three million people off food assistance:
|Poverty is never a life status to aspire to, but it seems to be getting harder and harder to avoid, and increasingly punishing if you're there. With austerity so in vogue these days, it's getting even worse. Last month, the Senate passed a Farm Bill that slashes food assistance through the Supplemental Assistance Nutrition Program (SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program) by $4.5 billion over the next decade.
"Oh, yeah?" said the House Agriculture Committee. "We'll just up that by about about $12 billion more." In that post, Laura Clawson explained who exactly this would hit. If you're a family of three, and have total income of more than $24,100 annually, you'd be out of luck. And food.