A USA Today editorial is downplaying poverty and food insecurity in America, and using Fox News talking points to justify a push to cut vital and effective anti-poverty programs.
In June the Senate voted to reduce spending on the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps, by $4.5 billion. Conservatives in the House are pushing for deeper cuts to the program, despite the fact that food stamps reduced the poverty rate by 8 percent during the depths of the recession.
In championing those cuts, USA Today offered a shockingly uninformed dismissal of the problem of food insecurity -- a term researchers say is more accurate than hunger. Pointing to increased use of food stamps in recent years, the editors opined:
These numbers are not driven by a rise in hunger. Indeed they have come about at a time when Americans -- particularly those on the lower-income rungs -- are struggling with obesity.
This analysis is nonsense. As Joel Berg, executive director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger told The New York Times: "Hunger and obesity are often flip sides to the same malnutrition coin." The Food Research and Action Center explains: "food insecure and low-income people are especially vulnerable to obesity due to the additional risk factors associated with poverty." Minnesota Public Radio further detailed the interaction between food insecurity and obesity in a January 27, 2012, report:
Recent research from the University of Minnesota finds parents who struggle to get enough food eat fewer fruits and vegetables and drink more sugar-sweetened beverages than other parents. That is largely due to poor access, said Mary Story, a dietician in the University of Minnesota's School of Public Health.
"What we know is that fruits and vegetables cost more, whole grains cost more," Story said. "And many low-income people live in neighborhoods or communities that lack access to a supermarket."
USA Today's apparent ignorance of the connection between obesity and food insecurity casts doubt on its call to "nudge the numbers back toward where they were in the mid-'90s."
But their embrace of Fox News' bullying tactics underscores the pernicious aspect of the campaign to demonize and cut food stamps.
After detailing efforts over the past decade to expand SNAP eligibility, the editorial argued:
Adding to the growth, the Agriculture Department has begun advertising the program more aggressively, and it has removed many of its inconveniences (and its stigmas at the cash register) by replacing coupons with cards that look and function much like debit cards.
This type of poverty-shaming has been a constant drum beat on the right. In June, New York Post columnist and Fox News regular Michael Goodwin discussed increased SNAP enrollment and lamented: "The sense of shame is gone." Goodwin's commentary echoed other Fox figures who have castigated SNAP beneficiaries for lacking an appropriate level of shame.
Perhaps tomorrow USA Today will explain how easy it is to feed a family on a diet of rice and beans.
The right wing media have claimed that President Obama is deliberately sabotaging the super committee's negotiations to reach a deal to decrease the deficit in an attempt to strengthen his re-election prospects. But Obama has repeatedly urged the super committee to come to a compromise, while the Republicans on the super committee have refused to compromise, instead proposing massive tax giveaways for the richest Americans and even more massive cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and other programs Americans rely on.
As part of the network's ongoing attempt to defend the richest Americans from paying even a penny more in taxes, Fox personalities have described Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's (D-NV) proposed surtax on the rich as "class warfare." At the same time, Fox is hyping Herman Cain's 9-9-9 plan, which would raise taxes on poor and middle-income families.
From the September 9 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
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From the September 7 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
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Rush Limbaugh claimed that "there is no stimulative effect of unemployment benefits." But economists agree that unemployment benefits do have a strong effect on job creation and growth.
Today President Obama began his Midwest bus tour with a stop in Cannon Falls, Minnesota where he spoke about jobs and the economy. After his prepared remarks, an audience member asked Obama: "How are you going to use renewable energy to create jobs in the future?" Megyn Kelly, who is supposed to be one of Fox News' "straight news" anchors, cut off Obama in the middle of his answer, claiming: "There you have it, they're moving away from the core issue which is jobs."
Kelly then turned for reaction to Fox Business host Lou Dobbs, a promoter of Obama birther theories and a serial Obama basher. Dobbs proceeded to attack the president. Dobbs claimed that Obama has not "put forward legislation" for any of his job-creating plans and asserted that Obama was playing "small ball" and even "whiffle ball" on jobs.
On his Fox News show, Fox senior vice president of business Neil Cavuto suggested that the sharp decline in the stock market may be related to the possibility that taxes may be increased. However, many other news outlets, including FoxBusiness.com, reported that the stock market decline was linked to recent data showing decreased consumer spending and the lack of growth in personal incomes.
In a July 31 op-ed for The New York Times, Frank Bruni described a recent conversation he had with Grover Norquist, head of the American Taxpayers Union. Bruni reported that Norquist stated: "Democrats are like a teenage boy on a prom date. ... They keep asking. Maybe she'll say yes. 'No! No! No!' But they have to keep asking. It's part of their DNA -- teenage boys and Democrats."
From the Times:
[Norquist] has emerged as the most visible mouthpiece and muse of the lower-taxes, less-government troops that have played a major role in the debt crisis. And he provides a handy window into them.
His assessment of Obama was succinct: "The president of the United States is a left-wing ideologue."
His analysis of the Democratic Party's values and tactics was unambiguous -- and uncomplicated by the deficits racked up under Obama's predecessor.
"Their game plan has always been spend, spend, spend, then come and ask Republicans to be responsible and raise taxes," he said.
"Democrats are like a teenage boy on a prom date," he added, proceeding to act out multiple parts in an imagined conversation, which is one of his favorite things to do. "They keep asking. Maybe she'll say yes. 'No! No! No!' But they have to keep asking. It's part of their DNA -- teenage boys and Democrats."