Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich drew criticism in January when he accused President Barack Obama of being the “food stamp president,” and eight months later Gingrich continues to stand by his assertion, feeling validated by recent reports about the ballooning food stamp rolls.
During a Friday sit-down with The Daily Caller, the former Republican presidential candidate revisited his “food stamp president” comments.
“I think the food stamp program is a total disgrace. First of all, it is now not food stamps — it is basically cash. So you give people who claim to be poor — and you remember this administration has waived any welfare requirements, so you literally can win a million dollar lottery and still receive food stamps,” Gingrich said, noting the low eligibility standards and potential for fraud. “Yet because we think of it as food stamps, and relating it back to the 1960s and the poverty in Mississippi and people being genuinely hungry, you have to ask yourself, has this just become one more social welfare giveaway dependency program.”
According to Gingrich, calling Obama the “food stamp president” is a good reminder of the choice Americans have this November.
“The average American understands exactly what I am saying. This president has a deep commitment to maximizing dependency in America. He wants Americans to be small and government to be big,” Gingrich said. “And I think ‘food stamp president’ is an easy way to capture what I’ve said all along. And I am hoping Romney will campaign on the idea that he wants to be the ‘pay check president’ versus the ‘food stamp president’ — it captures, in a very simple way, the differences.
As for solutions to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps) swell, Gingrich, the former head of American Solutions for Winning the Future, advocated for the separation of nutrition program funding from the farm bill — an idea the Democrat-controlled Senate struck down in June.
“I would like to see the farm bill split,” Gingrich said. “Why are we carrying a social welfare program on the back of American farmers? Why don’t we have an agricultural policy that would deal with farming, and a food stamp policy that related to people who are poor — not put them in the same bill”
While food stamp spending has doubled under Obama, former President George W. Bush also oversaw a vast expansion of the program, including the recently exposed U.S. Department of Agriculture/Mexico partnership to recruit more Mexican immigrants to enroll in SNAP. According to Gingrich, the expansion of SNAP under Bush was part of a larger problem with expanding bureaucracy.
“This is a topic that is actually really important from a deeper perspective. We have an ongoing momentum of bureaucratic government, over which there is a thin layer of appointees, above which there are two elected officials. The bureaucracies grind onward to the left no matter what. This is why you really need an extraordinary scale of reform if you are going to change the direction,” he explained. “This isn’t marginally slicing 3 percent off — these are bureaucracies. Whether it is EPA or Fish and Wildlife or food stamps or the Department of Education, these are bureaucracies dedicated to creating a Washington-centric, highly dependent country of citizens who obey the bureaucrats. And if you are asking me if the Bush administration did anything to fundamentally change that, of course not. I’m not even sure they knew that was their jobs.”