Of all social programs, in recent weeks nothing seems to rile up conservative media figures more than government programs designed to alleviate hunger.
This is a marked change from a time when former Republican Sen. Bob Dole (KS) was instrumental in the effort to "reform the Food Stamp Program (now known as SNAP), expand the domestic school lunch program, and establish the Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children."
Fox News' Stuart Varney, who previously claimed all the poor lacked was a "richness of spirit," toyed with the notion of letting the children of poor immigrants starve. Varney this week claimed that the AARP's helping seniors get food benefits was tantamount to a "buy the vote campaign."
On Fox News, Brian Kilmeade attempted to cast aspersions on the White House by claiming two Americans "were added to food stamp programs for every job the Obama administration created." This numbers game was echoed by The Washington Times and Breitbart.com in an obviously attempt to stigmatize the program.
All three ignored the fact that 45 percent of benefit recipients are under 18 years old, nine percent are over the age of 60, and 30 percent have jobs that simply don't pay enough to afford to eat. (Of course Fox News also demonizes workers' attempts to earn a living wage.)
The Five's Eric Bolling claimed food stamps are no longer for just "real people in poverty" but simply for those who say "they'd like to have more."
Bolling's claim is contradicted by the Department of Agriculture's data showing that 83 percent of households receiving food stamps live "at or below the federal poverty guideline." Additionally, according to Chad Stone, Chief Economist at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:
[SNAP] has one of the most rigorous quality control systems of any public benefit program. SNAP error rates (benefit overpayments and underpayments) are at an all-time low; just 3 percent of benefits went to ineligible households or exceeded the allowable benefit for eligible households. Moreover, honest mistakes by recipients, eligibility workers, data entry clerks or computer programmers - not fraud - account for an overwhelming majority of such overpayments.
Not to be topped, Rush Limbaugh lied to his audience earlier this year, claiming food stamps were a way to "buy beer ... with a government credit card" -- when in fact the purchase of alcohol is explicitly prohibited.
Conservatives like Bob Dole once attempted to create good public policy that worked to alleviate poverty. Now it seems the right only seeks to stigmatize the poor in what can only be described as an effort to create the first pro-hunger movement in human history.