Fox News host Stuart Varney was so eager for viewers to think that food stamps (SNAP) are a waste of money, he couldn’t be bothered to actually tell the truth about the SNAP program.
The pretext for this particular Fox News attack on the SNAP program was a new study that concluded that the expansion of food stamps is “not justified.” Varney opened the segment, which aired on Your World on Friday (10/18/13) by saying, “Ahhh, SNAP. Ehhh.” He used a tone that made his anti-food stamp view unmistakable.
Michael Tanner, a Senior Fellow at the CATO Institute, who released the study, said, “Well, there’s very little evidence to suggest that it really is a stimulus for the economy. But moreover there’s very little evidence to suggest that it’s really helping the people receiving the food stamps. The academic research is very limited.”
That begs the question: If the academic research is so limited, why do the study? But, of course, Varney didn’t ask.
Instead, Varney asked whether Tanner’s study confirmed that the rise in people on food stamps was caused by the Great Recession.
“Not at all,” Tanner said. “In fact, the increase started long before the Great Recession. Under the Bush administration, where food stamp usage almost doubled, now it’s doubled again under President Obama, and it’s not coming down as the recession wanes.”
There’s hard evidence to indicate that food stamps keep millions of people out of poverty, stimulate the economy, and that they can even create jobs.
But Varney didn’t seem to feel any need to mention any of that. He said, “I still don’t understand. What’s the fundamental reason for this explosion in food stamps?”
Tanner ‘s answer almost certainly ensured a return invitation to Fox: Tanner blamed President Obama and presented him as some kind of welfare king. Tanner said, “It’s largely been relaxing the eligibility standards; they’ve largely done away with the work requirements in most states for food stamps. They’ve eased eligibility standards in terms of the asset test and the income test that people have to undergo to receive them, and finally, there’s been a huge outreach effort on the part of the federal government. They’ve actually been giving awards to people who recruit more eligible people onto food stamps.”
Economist Jared Bernstein disagrees. He says the rise is because “There are still a lot of folks struggling to provide their families with adequate nutrition.” The numbers went up “to offset some pretty pernicious impacts of the recession and its aftermath.”