Barack Obama

Bush and Obama, the Food Stamp Presidents


When Newt Gingrich labels President Barack Obama the food stamp president and charges that the current president has put more people on food stamps than any other president, he's not entirely wrong, but he's not telling the whole story.

It's true that the most recent figures from the Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service (provided  to Today) show that a record number of people—some 46.2 million—are enrolled in the program. But the same data shows that more individuals were added to the program while George W. Bush was in office than have enrolled under Obama's presidency: Under Bush, the program grew by 14.7 million individuals; under Obama so far, it's grown by 14.2 million, and, as of October, was declining.

So Bush wins on volume, and Obama wins on velocity: In just a few years, President Obama managed to expand the program by nearly as much as Bush. But Obama didn't do it without some help from his Republican predecessor, who approved policy changes that set the stage for the program's current growth.

To some extent, the food stamps expansion the country has seen under Obama is how food stamps are supposed to work: It's a countercyclical program, meaning that as the economy declines, enrollment grows. Typically, then, the program grows in recessions and declines in economic boom times. But with the 2002 farm bill, President Bush dramatically expanded eligibility, restoring benefits to nearly a million individuals at the beginning of 2003, and paving the way for the program to expand as it did during the rest of presidency. As a result, Bush managed to oversee unprecedented growth in the program even as the economy grew. Obama then followed up on this with an eligibility expansion of his own in the 2009 stimulus package.

It's not unreasonable to criticize Obama for the expansion of the food stamps program under his watch. But Obama's Republican critics shouldn't forget that it was a GOP president who helped make that expansion possible. 

Read Reason columnist Greg Beato on the expansion of the food stamp program here


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  1. fist! again!

    1. …and still empty


      1. Don’t be so hard on yourself. The narcissism comes through loud and clear.

  2. My eyes! My eyes!

    1. admit it though, that composite is DRIPPING with Electability.

      1. I’d vote for him, he looks so presidential.

  3. When Newt Gingrich labels President Barack Obama the food stamp president and charges that the current president has put more people on food stamps than any other president, he’s not entirely wrong, but he’s not telling the whole story.

    I believe the foodstamp line was just a way of trying to express how the economy had worsened under President Obama.

    Disclaimer: I consider Newt Gingrich as much a statist as Barack Obama. I don’t think the economy would improve because of a Newt Gingrich presidency. It might improve in spite of it. (No business would be able to predict and plan for what scheme the a-hole was going to try next.)

    1. i’ll try your scheme, baby

  4. In his newsletters, Ron Paul made the point about food stamps that Gingrich is trying to make, but he was far less subtle about it. And it brought in lots of cash. Leatn from the master.

    1. you can take my food stamps from my cold, dead hands!

  5. Mr. Hoover, meet Mr. Roosevelt.

    1. No. I don’t want to meet Mr. Hoover.

  6. UH….Bush in office 8 years, Barry in office 3 years….I say Barry wins this one big time! Thanks, Oh Munificent One for your guidance to HELL!

    1. That’s a Team Player’s route to feeling good about your own choices.

      To not acknowledge that what Obama has done was made fully possible by Bush’s policy is the same as saying “Team RED good, Team BLUE bad”.

      There is no substantive difference between the two parties, and pretending there is taking part in the charade.

    2. And don’t you think if someone would have more time to correct something that is less desirable has an advantage over someone who’s had less time?

  7. Newt Gingrich labels President Barack Obama the food stamp president and charges that the current president has put more people on food stamps than any other president,

    I never figured out what the point of that assertion was. Is it that Obama expanded eligibility, or that he is putting everybody in the poorhouse?

    Newt Kuan Yew is not exactly horrified by the expansion of government programs.

  8. Since we have a “record” population (the largest in U.S. history!), plus the longest period of high unemployment since the Food Stamp program was established by President Kennedy, it’s not surprising that we have a “record number” of people on Food Stamps. Also not surprising: Newt Gingrich doesn’t mention that most Food Stamp recipients are White or Hispanic, rather than Black; most Food Stamp recipients are children; and that 40 percent of Food Stamp recipients live in a household where someone has a job.

    1. Agreed. Percentages would be a better measure than numbers.

    2. that throw-away line isnt intended to be informative or accurate. but it is successful agiprop designed to foam-up then fund-raise the prols.

    3. Stop mis-spelling my name!

  9. And if Newt is trying to claim he is in some way offended by the idea of increasing the dependency of the little guy on Big Nanny’s teat, that is beyond laughable.

  10. Yep, he’s every bit the “big government idea” man as the current POTUS. Every time I ask a Newt supporter why they would ever vote for him I get the same answer: he’s smart. I swear 3/4 of the country wants someone to play daddy and take care of them.

  11. Who would have thought that the lesson of the 2012 Republican primary is that tired old racist Republican bullshit from the 80s still works on people?

    1. derp de derpity RACIST! derp

    2. Where da free monies?

    3. The lesson may well be that your race card is overdrawn.

      1. Hardly. If you’re unaware of the racial aspect of the food stamp line, you’re naive.

        Newt’s rise is based entirely on his successful channeling of the dominant conservative emotion of the last few decades: the eternal victimhood of white conservatives at the hand of the liberal media and poor minorities.

        1. If you’re unaware of the racial aspect of the food stamp line, you’re naive.

          Oh, so Newt’s using the special racist dog whistle.

          Weird, that a secret code that is supposed to inflame racists only seems to be heard by people who claim to be on the front lines of the Struggle.

          1. Newt has referred specifically to black people in his rhetoric. Pretending it’s not about race goes being naivite to outright lying in this case.

            1. Cite?

              1. “More people are on food stamps today because of Obama’s policies than ever in history. I would like to be the best paycheck president in American history. … 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.”

              2. It is beyond belief that you don’t get this…

                He is literally saying black people are lazy and satisfied with government handouts, and he wants to go lecture them on a proper work ethic. Unvarnished racism.

                1. Fair enough point.

                  But the flip side, and one that isn’t escapable, is that the votes actually support the theory. If blacks weren’t satisfied with the government doing whatever necessary to provide for their needs, blacks wouldn’t vote for Team BLUE almost exclusively, and vote, you know, for someone other than those who campaign, sometimes specifically, on the continuance of the welfare state.

                  1. Or maybe blacks vote for Democrats because Republicans are openly hostile toward them?

                    Your explanation is a racist one–you suggest blacks are universally voting against their best interest out of stupidity and a desire to remain idle.

              3. fastest Google search I ever did:


                Plenty more where that came from on Google if you don’t trust my cite.

        2. Tony|1.23.12 @ 12:02PM|#
          It’s been well explained that food assistance is not primarily a black thing–that’s just how Republicans like people to think of it.

          Please leave a note apologizing on my behalf to whomever cleans up your monitor after your head explodes.

    4. Tony, you made the mistake of criticizing a conservative tactic here.

      The conservatives will not have that.

      Goddamnit, Lee Atwater is a hero to them!

      1. Needs more Christfags.

      2. Tony, you made the mistake

        so far, so good

        of criticizing a conservative parroting a collectivist tactic here.

        There, that’s better.

      3. I know–sometimes hours can pass without the regulars realizing their extreme asshurt is over someone daring to call out Republican talking points. But they’re not on any TEAMS!

      4. Shrike, unjustifiably calling anyone a racist draws our ire. It just happens that your TEAM plays it ad infinitum

        1. I’m not a Dem, just a liberal.

          I support the most secular capitalist I can find. I support Scott Brown. Like Warren Buffett minus the $45 billion.

          Also, I don’t believe Ron Paul is a racist. It doesn’t matter to me but I do acknowledge the Southern Strategy of the GOP. It won the South for them and cleared out the Sam Nunn’s from the opposition party.

          1. the southern strategy is denied by the gop…and the klan are dems who voted obama

    5. The tired old racist Democratic bullshit is better — i.e., we need to feed you black folks because you’re too damn stupid to feed yourselves?

      1. It’s been well explained that food assistance is not primarily a black thing–that’s just how Republicans like people to think of it.

        1. Nope…its a keep the poor subservient to the government (or more specifically team blue) kinda thing. Thats how I think of it.

          A safety net is needed but the current system doesn’t seem to help…it just perpetuates keeping the poor, well poor. Yet any talk of reforming the system is met by team blue with cries of “your starving the children” or other nonsense. The left seems unable or unwilling to work on real entitlement reform, which in the end condemns the poor, willingly or unwillingly, to subsist on what is given by their government master.

          So far, the master only wants the poor to keep voting for team blue, but what happens when team blue decides to ask for a little more in return?

          1. I’m not convinced there is a dependency problem in today’s economy. The main problem is not enough jobs. But it’s not beyond the realm of intelligent discussion. I just don’t trust policymakers whose goal in life is to destroy the welfare state on ideological grounds to be the best judges of these things.

            1. And there you go….”welfare state.”

              Just those two words show the mentality of the left….supporting a system keeping people subservient.

              A safety net does not equal welfare state. A safety net implies a temporary state….a welfare state implies keeping a flawed system in perpetuity.

              Why should those on ideological grounds that support such a flawed system be trusted?

              1. I use them interchangeably. The entire notion that such a thing as dependency on safety net programs exists relies on stereotypes of racial minorities. I’m not saying dependency can’t exist and the welfare state can’t be too generous, but, compared to other advanced economies especially, the US is hardly lavishing the poor.

                1. Typical liberal response there, Tony, to acknowledge that maybe, just maybe, the welfare state might lead to some theoretical problems, while steadfastly ignoring that those problems are already rampant and while also supporting each and every expansion of said welfare state. The left has never seen a welfare state that is “too generous” and would never admit that welfare creates dependency, no matter how many ghettos and trailer parks are filled with single mothers on food stamps. Shit, Obamacare subsidizes insurance coverage for families up to something like 300% of the “poverty” threshold. It’s all about loading everyone on the government dole and creating an iron-clad political majority that will, above all, vote to keep its benefits.

                  1. You associate food stamps with a type of lifestyle you don’t like, prevalent among poor people. Now what happens if we take away food stamps? Don’t they simply maintain their lifestyle, minus food?

                    It’s absurd to still be talking about dependency on the safety net in an environment where there are too few jobs for job seekers.

                    It’s perverse to combine this attitude about the safety net with economic policies designed to depress wages.

                    1. Don’t they simply maintain their lifestyle, minus food?

                      Not unless you’re assuming they’re more retarded than common forest animals, who, if some way of living isn’t filling their bellies, change their way of living (seek out new areas, etc.)

                      You’re begging the question by assuming that people would maintain that lifestyle in the absence of programs which enable it. You must consider that it would be just as likely that they would change their lifestyle if the incentive part of the equation was changed.

                    2. I don’t think government should starve people to incentivize them to work. Especially when there aren’t enough jobs. I think it should ensure universal access to food.

                      You’ll have a point the day you cry just as much about the wealthy abusing the system. Or when you provide a single shred of data to back up the food stamp dependency/incentive theory. Until then it looks very much like tired old racist stereotypes.

                1. (+1000 was directed at Rokk Krinn)

          2. No, data shows that per capita food stamp recipients are over represented in Red States – KY, TN, MS, AL, SC.

            1. Which is exactly why any good Kentuckian, Tennessean, Mississippian, Alabaman, and South Carolinian should want to cut food stamps.

              They DO increase dependency, and the only way for food stamp recipients to become more self sufficient is to take them off of the dole. That makes the entire state a much better place because it’s not filled with welfare folk, and makes it so that I don’t have to pay for Bubba in the Holler to eat.

  12. It is weirdly Janus-faced criticism.

    You can interpret as a criticism of the economy (it’s so bad that the poor innocent American worker is reduced to applying for foodstamps!); or you can interpret as a criticism of social policy (the dirty-bum hippies are stealing more of your taxes in foodstamps than ever!).

    What the criticism can’t be, logically, is both things at once, and yet that is how the president’s haters will interpret and accept it: the economy sucks giant dong because of Obama (record foodstamps…QED), and at the same time the people who are applying for foodstamps in the context of this giant-dong-sucking economy are dirty bums who would rather steal from taxpayers than work.

    This Janus-faced approach to the labor market is not limited to public assistance. Illegal immigrants are (1) stealing our jobs two-at-a-time and (b) raping and gang-banging their way across Arizona. It’s pretty tough for an immigrant to do both things at once, yet both claims are equally resonant among the GOP base.

    My view is that their is an irreducible conflict in Right/Libertarian orthodoxy about the job market. On the one side, jobs are supposed to be so plentiful and easy to get that no public provision for idled workers is supposed to be necessary in any part of the business cycle, however steep. On the other side, the job market is supposed to be so fragile that any marginal action by the government — even a six-dollar minimum wage — is a catastrophic job-killing Armegeddon and anything less than full employment at any point in the business cycle can be laid at the feet of the savage prehensile regulatory state.

    I’m not expecting a resolution of these mental contradictions in the Right/Libertarian psyche anytime soon. In this realm, even the merits of rational logic are considered optional and debatable.

    1. If you view social programs as the deliberate facilitation of government dpendency, it CAN be both, your pseudointellectual ramblings notwithstanding.

      1. Granted, if the theory is Obama conspiring with his cabinet to say “lets train-wreck the whole national economy so people will vote for the party that is more supportive of foodstamps!” then, yes, you have a coherent theory. Batsh!t crazy premise, but coherent.

        1. Why not the other way around? Deliberate expansion of welfare programs facilitates dependence and therefore d ushers in a post capitalist system

          1. “Foodstamps killed my capitalist system.”

            Maybe you should quit while you are deemed merely bizarre.

            1. Unsubstantive reply is unsubstantive.

  13. What the criticism can’t be, logically, is both things at once,

    Why not? Isn’t it possible that the government is mucking up the economy AND stealing my substance to give to the undeserving?

    1. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you “Exhibit A.”

      (Dean — both things can be happening at once, but food stamps can’t be evidence of both.)

      1. Yes, they can. If you view the promulgation and expansion of welfare programs as a deliberate move toward a post – capitalist system, which is Progressivism’s stated goal.

        1. Cloward Pivin comes to mind.

          1. Other things come to mind, too, like the theory that the Appolo missions were faked in a TV studio, that the Kennedys killed Marylin Monroe, and that 9/11 was done with drones and demolition charges.

            1. Fostering dependence can destroy the economy. It neednt be a grand conspiracy theory, just an incidental in fact

              1. So … Bush’s expansion of the food stamps program set the economy up for a train-wreck, which happened in 2007-2008 … because it expanded “dependency.”

                It wasn’t because of a housing bubble, or a debt crunch, or an employment crisis … but a increase in “dependency.”

                And now, Obama is riding that wave of “dependency” for all it’s worth, as it crests near the beach. Cowabunga!!! And THAT is your theory of the economic meltdown we have been experiencing.

                I think you were better off before you tried to reconcile the cognitive dissonance.

                1. You obviously aren’t reading what I’m writing. I am talkin about progressive goals generally, not these particulars. You said that there was cognitive dissonance. I said that doesn’t have to be the case.

                  1. Your formulation of “progressive goals generally” requires either

                    (a) a widespread, longstanding conspiracy to destroy the economy;

                    or else

                    (b) a series of coincidentally-timed macro-economic and political events that is so improbable it would happen less than once every two or three centuries.

                    1. (a) a widespread, longstanding conspiracy to destroy the economy;

                      No, it does not.

                      (b) a series of coincidentally-timed macro-economic and political events that is so improbable it would happen less than once every two or three centuries.

                      No. It is even stranger that you would come up with this as my alleged description.

                      This is not a terribly difficult thing to grasp. Progressives do not believe in capitalism – they believe in a post-capitalist society. I am not saying that progressives are engaging in some grand conspiracy to undermine the economy; I am saying that it is an incidental effect of their goal generally to increase governmental dependence. You see, progressives don’t see capitalism as either a necessary or sufficient condition for economic prosperity, and your flaw is equating, in their minds, the economy = capitalism. To them, it does not.

                    2. I’m in favor of a post-capitalist society, provided we invent Star Trek replicators and render all resources unscarce. I get the impression many libertarians see virtues in capitalism beyond efficiently distributing scarce resources. Some days I get the impression libertarians don’t give a crap about human welfare at all, though.

                    3. Right. So, all that is need for “progressives” to create this “post-capitalist society” is

                      (1) an economic meltdown before one pivotal election; plus

                      (2) the political opportunity to “increase dependency” during this economic meltdown with means-tested public aid; and

                      (3)to increase that “dependent” population SO MUCH that it swings elections to progressives indefinitely; and also

                      (4) a perpetual “jobless recovery” from said economic meltdown that somehow stays in a “Goldilocks zone” where it permanently keeps all those “newly-dependent” workers on the means-tested programs, yet without sinking the government fiscally.

                      This is how you make sense of our current reality.

                    4. Holy god, dude…I am not talking about the current economic meltdown. You said that “food stamps cannot be evidence of both” the government giving to the undeserving AND mucking up the economy. I pointed out to you that this is entirely possible IF one believes that (a) increasing social dependency on the government is a good thing and (b) that fostering said dependence has the incidental effect of mucking up the economy.

                      You were talking in generalities and now you want to get into the particulars of the 2008 meltdown. Learn to focus.

                    5. Again, you’re attributing to malevolence that which can be attributed to incompetence.

                    6. It’s not incompetence if it’s done on purpose, and everything you said before made it sound like you thought it was being done on purpose. Now you’re backtracking to incompetence?

                    7. YOU focus! The article, the thread, and my message were about Newt Gingrich’s comment that THIS PRESIDENT, sworn into office in January 2009, is the “Food Stamp President.”

                      You are the only one speaking in “generalities” about some vast cabal of “progressives” who are deliberately trying to foster “dependency” which is the “real reason” economies get “mucked up” (yet you deny it’s a conspiracy, and you deny you are talking about the last two economic crises under Bush and Obama – feh!).

    2. “Deserving” are those who can’t meet nutritional needs without government assistance, but I suspect you think it means something else.

      1. I’m willing to bet there is absolutely no requirement in the eligibility standards about nutritional needs. There’s a whole bunch about individual and household income. At some point, we decided if you’re poor we should subsidize your food, freeing up your money for bad habits, cable tv, and cell phones.

        1. Cable TV and cell phones: the new “uppity.”

          Stereotypes don’t serve policy well.

          1. Cell phones and Cable TV….a future welfare program.

            1. Actually, I can easily imagine those utilities becoming universal, like municipal water or radio broadcasts, in the form of some successor digital technology that just flows everywhere. The notion of paying for them as a subscriber could seem as antiquated to our grandchildren as drawing water from a pump-handle well.

          2. If you can’t afford the bnecessities of life, perhaps you shouldn’t be spending money on bullshit. Of course, invoking uppity means you view the debate primarily in racial terms. Good for you, I guess, but since my post is race-neutral you’re the only one that sees it that way.

            I’ve spent more time than I care to remember around rural white poverty, Tony. They may be on food stamps and WIC, but they’ve got a DirectTV satellite dish for the big screen TV, cell phones, and cigarettes. We need stop subsidizing people’s shitty lifestyle choices.

            1. Cigarette tax? Nanny state!

              1. He didn’t say anything about a tax you fucking moron.

            2. Racial or not, your account shares one thing in common with all such accounts: it is anecdotal.

              If this is your concern, you should be happy with the SNAP program. You can’t spend that money on satellite TV, cell phones, or cigarettes.

              At any rate, having a phone or a TV isn’t evidence that one is capable of meeting one’s family’s nutritional needs on a daily basis. Do you have any data on this, or are you just making assumptions?

              The important point is this: if your concern is people cheating the system, but are focused exclusively on poor people and not the billions and billions in tax code advantages given to rich people, then something is askew.

              1. This is my surprise that you’ve yet again completely failed to see the point.

  14. I pledge not to respond to Tony-troll. Stand with me, folks. It just wants attention.

    1. I realy try ignore it, but I have my moments of weakness.

      1. Me too. I did it in this thread, but the above “uppity” comment showed how much of a Super-Troll he really is.

  15. Stereotypes don’t serve policy well.

    Assume a can opener.

  16. Not for nothing’ but Bush had 8 years to accomplish this while Obama did it in less than 1/2 the time!

  17. You people, starting with Rev. Blue Moon and moving onward, are absolutely out of your fucking minds. Do you have any fucking idea what living on eight dollars an hour is like, or maybe four- hundred dollars a month after getting a roof on your head, not including heat, gas, food, however you might try to keep your children in nondonated clothing, scraping together some kind of child care, any and all medical expenses, any trying to maintain the minimum in assets and objects just required to keep a lousy job?

    For that matter, anyone tried to keep any job these days without a cell phone? And the ones who get 40 hours a week without needing multiple jobs are *lucky*

    And your answer is when we stop “subsidizing the dependency” of the working poor, they can all get off cable TV and cover their food budgets?

    Or maybe the market can move them back into dormitories. Oh wait, the market for cheap housing is completely fucking broken and local concerned parents make sure it never gets started in the first place.

    Don’t worry, I’m sure the invisible hand will free them from the dependency of having slightly more disposable income to avoid get evicted with, you gaping assholes.

  18. Honestly, to imitate the way the free-market crowd talks about liberals for a minute – you people have collected absolutely the biggest pile of bullshit to have ever walked the earth, to dress up your autism-level sociopathic urge to systematically eliminate all possible assistance to the stupidity and ground-into-the-gears hell of anyone who doesn’t have a college degree, and then cloak it under the self-righteous, hypocritical bullshit of ‘dependency’.

    Killing off food stamps to “free” working poor people from “dependency” is a lot like Joseph Stalin’s forced collectivization / confiscation of kulak small farms in order to “liberate” them from the chains of “capitalist hell”.

    In both cases, the point is to go out there and reduce the absolute standards of living of the people you claim to be championing so you can keep slightly more of your pig surplus.

    Goverment food stamps are “dependency” like your dad paying for your college education is “dependency”, or like winning the lottery is “dependency”. It’s one hundred percent doublespeak. It’s just free shit for people who could sorely use a little more free shit, and if they had gotten all the free shit shoveled at you dependent motherfuckers, sucking at the tits of your throughly privileged and subsidized upbringing, then they too would no longer need the miserable third-tier free shit offered by the government.

  19. The operative words in this article were “so far.” Bush added those numbers in eight years in office. Obama added his numbers in just over three years in office, making him more deserving of the title as Food Stamp President. They might as well make it official and put his face on the Food Stamp.

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