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Red, white, and blue popsicle.
Apparently stung by the Democratic pushback against House Republican dreams of slashing the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program by $21 billion over 10 years, Rep. Steve Stockman is lashing out. Where two dozen Democratic members of the House did a SNAP challenge themselves, eating on the average food stamp budget for a week, Stockman had an aide do the challenge and then announce that it's a breeze, no problem, we can totally cut the program.

Question: If it's so easy to eat on less than a SNAP budget, proving that cuts are totally warranted, why aren't Republican members of the House doing the challenge en masse? Why is it left to one staffer to make this point? I mean, really, dozens of members of Congress do the challenge and say it's hard, to say nothing of all the clergy and others who've participated and say the same. To say nothing of all the people who actually live on this budget and it's miserable and difficult.

Well, let's take a look at what Stockman communications director and master of the universe Donny Ferguson bought as his entire food supply for a week:

For $21.55 Ferguson purchased at Dollar Tree:
Two boxes of Honeycomb cereal
Three cans of red beans and rice
Jar of peanut butter
Bottle of grape jelly
Loaf of whole wheat bread
Two cans of refried beans
Box of spaghetti
Large can of pasta sauce
Two liters of root beer
Large box of popsicles
24 servings of Wyler’s fruit drink mix
Eight cups of applesauce
Bag of pinto beans
Bag of rice
Bag of cookies

For $6.03 at the Shoppers Food Warehouse next door Ferguson bought a gallon of milk and a box of maple and brown sugar oatmeal.

So he's got a lot of cereal for breakfast, and he can have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch, along with maybe some applesauce and fruit drink. For dinner, it looks like he's eating spaghetti for a couple nights and otherwise eating beans and rice. Also popsicles and cookies. Healthy diet, there! And such a varied menu at dinner. Perhaps Ferguson isn't aware that the definition of low food security is "reports of reduced quality, variety, or desirability of diet. Little or no indication of reduced food intake." Exactly the diet he's reporting, in other words: fruits and vegetables only in the form of grape jelly, pasta sauce, and applesauce, heavily dependent on root beer and cookies and sugary cereal for calories, and beans and rice night after night for dinner. Not to mention the increased health care costs we can expect to see as a result of people living on diets like this and developing diabetes, hypertension, and a series of other health problems.

If having food stamp recipients actually starving wasn't a goal for Republicans, they'd see this shopping list for what it is: an argument in favor of increasing SNAP benefits. But to Stockman and Ferguson, the SNAP challenge was nothing but "a left-wing publicity stunt," to be countered with a right-wing publicity stunt. And you know, it kind of is a left-wing publicity stunt—one that says "you can ignore all the people who live on this budget day in, day out. Can you ignore members of Congress and clergy and community leaders?" It's telling that the counterpart right-wing publicity stunt says "let them live on cookies and grape jelly, let's cut more."

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 08:34 AM PDT.

Also republished by Hunger in America, In Support of Labor and Unions, and Daily Kos.

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