Invictus here, folks.  I can see from some comments that I should probably have made that more clear from the get-go.  Sorry.

I came across a piece of research today that referenced the growing number of households (currently a whopping 19.4 million) participating in the nation’s food stamps program (the official name changed two years ago from food stamps to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)), and was a bit taken aback by what I read, so I went to check out the numbers for myself.  The year-over-year (YoY) percent gains in the number of households participating in this program are staggering and, like the recent report on poverty in our country, saddening.  Here’s a table sorted in descending order of YoY percent change in number of households participating:

(Click for ginormous)

Source:, Food and Nutrition Service

See also: Bloomberg, Food Stamp Recipients at Record 41.8 Million Americans in July, U.S. Says

ADDING:  Barry raises some very interesting and relevant questions in his comment.  Questions that I’d love to answer, and will try to.  Unfortunately, this data set is not particularly robust, and I’m not sure I’ll be able to put these numbers in the appropriate historical context.

Second, as luck would have it, the NY Times runs with a related story today:  New York Asks to Bar Use of Food Stamps to Buy Sodas.  This issue calls for a CrowdQuery™:  To the extent people find themselves in some way supported by our social safety net(s), what governmental strings — if any — should be attached to that support?  Ban sodas?  Cigarettes?  Alcohol?  Other items?

Category: Current Affairs, Data Analysis, Economy

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

63 Responses to “Explosive Growth in Food Stamp Usage”

  1. What does this say about the economic recovery? Does this stat lag the cycle? Have we seen these sorts of Y-o-Y spikes in other deep recessions ?

    I’d love to see this in greater context

  2. Michael M says:

    While searching for an answer to your question – without finding one – I came upon this chart, which you may find of interest:

  3. Marcus says:

    The underlying story says that 41.8 million Americans received food stamps in July. If 15% of the U.S. population is receiving food stamps and supposedly that 15% is feeding others, children and elder citizens with that food, it means that at least 1/5 of the American population is receiving public assistance just to eat. If this is real, it is a tragedy of epic proportions. What is the true extent of misery, poverty, homelessness and desperation buried in this statistic?

  4. Gnatman says:

    The AP story today sends much the same message but highlights a new shopping reality on the first morning of the month. Midnight shoppers descend on the groceries just when the debit cards are replenished.

    …in Cincinnati. As the final hours of September ticked down, about five dozen cars were in the parking lot.

  5. Herman Frank says:

    Obviously “the social contract is dead paper”. The unraveling of society has progressed with Tea Parties, the haves and have-nots, dreams gone out the window with the packing of the bags for the umptieth time. The rot has to stop! All grey mice of society “to the barricades!” It’s YOU who is paying the price for the malfeasancee of a bunch of greedy short-term morally corrupt persons.
    Look around you! Those looney Canadians to the North have a social contract in which there are medical and social welfare benefits to hold up a decent society, those socialist Europeans to the East have a social contract in which “the total” supports the individual, those kangaroo-eating Aussies “down South somewhere” have the State support the individual – but in the USA a belching and puffing newscaster can sign a USD 400mln contract (being one of the most popular radio hosts) spitting venom about the very IDEA of a social contract. You either say “enough is enough, and we’re going to make it better”, you start thinking for yourself, and you vote for your basic right under the social contract: a chance for a better life.

  6. Petey Wheatstraw says:

    Barry Ritholtz Says:

    “What does this say about the economic recovery?”

    Recovery? Really, BR. Just because Pravda prints it, don’t make it true.

    There has been no economic recovery. You know it, I know it, and everybody else knows it, too. There may have ben a recovery in the SM, but it took everything the Corporatists had to save that (their) bacon.

    A good friend — one made exceedingly wealthy by the RE bubble — recently recounted how he had pretty much fully recovered his SM losses from the crash. He didn’t listen at the top of the bubble, and he won’t listen now (hell, I don’t even try — I just smile and nod). He says that now is a good time to buy a house (for ME to buy a house!). There has even been talk among old associates of buying apartment complexes to convert to condos. BofA cronies are diligently trying to funnel money into these projects (private ventures by the management team of a publicly-traded firm, no less).


  7. johnz says:

    Two comments -

    if you couple the use of food stamps with the number of Americans on Medicad or using free health clinics then you get a real picture of the need in this country

    the food stamp statistics should give you a good reason to contribute to your local food bank


  8. Petey

    When I use the term “Recovery,” I am referencing numerous aspects of the economy that were contracting and now are expanding. (See these charts here).

    You can describe this recovery as weak, soft, anemic, jobless, disappointing, pathetic whatever — but it is a recovery nonetheless.

    I do not want to waste time debating established facts. The earth is not flat, nor is it the center of the universe. For those who want to pretend otherwise, you reveal yourself as ig’nant or cognitively biased or too full of talking points to contribute here.

    We endeavor for precision around these parts, and I demand you respect that precision.

  9. Huntly says:

    What bread lines?

  10. ZedLoch says:

    Might this have anything to do with BR’s previous post on wealth distribution?

    “what governmental strings — if any — should be attached to that support?”

    Many string should be attached. All junk food should be ineligible, because it decreases health and doesn’t go very far in terms of making one full for long periods of time.

    I hate seeing carts full of cookies and orange soda every time I check out of Wal-Mart, pushed by very large people with several (soon to be) very large children. You just know they will need our help in the future, and I feel like something could be done now. Like an education campaign: “How to eat right so that you don’t feel like &@#% everyday” or something like that…

  11. Kort says:

    Some context is needed. Explosive growth…yes. But keep in mind the rules changes with the Farm Bill of 2008 that widened the net CONSIDERABLY. More people are eligible today than ever before. So, if the rules change, that explains a portion (large?) of any YoY growth lately. Also keep in mind in the good old days of 1995 we had 26M people on Foodstamps…

    Yes, a blight, embarassing, we can do better, etc, etc, but some context too.

    Rule changes…on income levels, on discounting assets, on retirement accounts:

    “Other important changes included:

    Extended simplified reporting to all households
    Extended of transitional benefits to those leaving a State-funded cash assistance program
    Allowed use of E&T funds for job retention expenses
    Clarified the E&T volunteers are not subject to a participation limit
    Stipulated that State agencies must issue monthly benefit allotments to individuals in one lump sum unless a benefit correction is necessary
    Sets standards for expungement of benefits and for moving benefits off line
    Clarified that interchange fees may not apply to EBT transactions
    Required USDA to set standards for major changes in program design
    Required USDA to require proper testing as a condition of Federal financial participation in State automation systems.
    Allowed USDA to prohibit State agencies from collecting claims from a household and to assert a claim against a State in cases of major systems failure
    Offered States the option of implementing a telephonic signature process
    Codified regulations regarding bilingual access, civil rights requirements and nutrition education
    Allowed for disqualification for clients who intentionally obtain cash by purchasing and then discarding a product to obtain the deposit or intentionally sells food purchased with SNAP benefits
    Gave USDA more flexibility in setting disqualification periods and fines for certain retailer violations.”

  12. curbyourrisk says:

    Barry…let’s get one thing clear. We NEVER exited the recession. And years from now when they look back on things, they will recognize the DEPRESSION began in January of 2009.

    It might take a while to be recognized, as nothing negative is allowed to be announced while this administration is in office, but mark my words…..EVENTUALLY they will will admit it.


    BR: Wrong.

  13. rktbrkr says:

    The fix was in – no doubt who owns congress. Unanimous without any debate, I presume it’s retroactive!

  14. Traveller13 says:

    I would like to know how much of the growth is due to simple eligibility rule changes such as the one done in Washington State two years ago.. See this link

    “A new rule taking effect this week allows about 23,000 more Washington families to apply for the state’s food-stamp program.

    The Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) changed eligibility rules for the Basic Food program, now allowing families with incomes at or below 200 percent of poverty level to apply.

    Until now, families at or below 130 percent of the poverty level could apply. For a family of four, that meant an income of $26,900 or less. The new threshold for a family of four is $42,400.”

  15. Robespierre says:


    “what governmental strings — if any — should be attached to that support? ”

    I say the same type of strings we imposed on bankers after all the help we gave them. Basically allow the poor to write the food stamp regulations, paid off our representatives to increase their cut, be free to go to the food open window and get all the food they want at no cost. There, lets be equitable.

  16. BennyProfane says:

    I’d like to see a breakdown someday as to how this money is spent in the markets. Is it being used for real food (or, as Michael Pollan calls it, food your grandmother would recognize as …. food) versus processed, sugary, toxic junk that many Americans consume. And I’m not talking about “organic” or yuppie Whole Foods stuff, I’m talking about fresh or frozen veggies, pasta, beans and poultry instead of shopping carts full of soda pop and chips and sugar coated cereals and packaged “foods”.

  17. wally says:

    There should be no strings attached.
    If you want to control what people consume or buy or use, just give them those things… not money plus a ‘big brother’ insult.

  18. Arequipa01 says:

    Economic recovery? Huh? That is not the goal. Pretty soon that govt cheese will be packed with Chinese mercury.

    Retroactively legitimizing fraud. There is no law. Sauve qui peut…

  19. ironman says:

    BR asks:

    What does this say about the economic recovery? Does this stat lag the cycle? Have we seen these sorts of Y-o-Y spikes in other deep recessions ?

    The answer is no, we haven’t. Here’s why:

    The revival began a decade ago, after tough welfare laws chased millions of people from the cash rolls, many into low-wage jobs as fast-food workers, maids, and nursing aides. Newly sympathetic officials saw food stamps as a way to help them. For states, the program had another appeal: the benefits are federally paid.


    States eased limits on people with cars and required fewer office visits from people with jobs. The federal government now gives bonuses to states that enroll the most eligible people.

    The program then has become something of a cash cow for the states, who have strong incentives to put as many people on SNAP (aka “food stamps”) as possible. That makes today’s numbers very different from those seen in past recessions.

  20. holulu says:

    Honorable Newt Gingrich vilifying food stamp. Why he does not go after WallStreet pigs instead?!

  21. Robespierre says:

    @call me ahab Says:

    “hey- what do I got to do to get in on all these benefits-

    I want free food”

    Wrong tit. You want the other one where the bankers attach to. That’s the ticket.

  22. If the name has been changed to nutritional assistance, then yes, it should be usable ONLY for nutritional foodstuffs.

    But who gets to decide what is nutritional.

    With 50 million on medicaid and all these families on food stamps, how can we survive as a nation. The top 1% will soon own everything.

  23. call me ahab says:

    food stamps and farm subsidies- it appears everyone wants a seat at the trough-

    I wonder if the middle class will ever give up their mortgage interest deduction (maybe after it is pried from their cold dead hands)

  24. call me ahab says:

    food stamps and farm subsidies- it appears everyone wants a seat at the trough-

    I wonder if the middle class will ever give up their mortgage interest deduction (maybe after it is pried from their cold dead hands)

    (as an aside- BR- you have some serious spam filters at work- I had to tinyurl this- and who knows, maybe it still won’t post)

  25. FrancoisT says:

    When I use the term “Recovery,” I am referencing numerous aspects of the economy that were contracting and now are expanding.

    You can describe this recovery as weak, anemic, jobless, disappointing, but it is a recovery nonetheless.

    There is expansion, albeit very weak and unequal, but expansion nonetheless, thus recovery. So, I don’t know how is this supposed to make us feel, given the non-negligible risks of relapse in recession.

    One thing is sure though: As the use of food stamps is growing, there is no expansion in the life expectancy of Americans, far from it. As a matter of fact, we’re sliding backward as a recent study shows.

    Moreover, the usual excuses touted to explain away these difference, such as obesity, smoking, traffic deaths and firearms lethality, have been controlled: they do NOT account for the difference. Bad news for those who desperately want to cling to the illusion that we have the “best system in the world” isn’t it?

    This only means one thing; we’ll have to stop bullshitting ourselves with the vapid bromide “libtard v neandercon” soon and get down to the real business of restoring common sense and common purpose in this country.

    Or else…


    BR: Again, life expectancy is not how we measure economic expansions

  26. tradeking13 says:

    BR: When I use the term “Recovery,” I am referencing numerous aspects of the economy that were contracting and now are expanding.

    So, we can drink ourselves sober. Boy were you wrong.

  27. Petey Wheatstraw says:

    Barry Ritholtz Says:

    “For those who want to pretend otherwise, you reveal yourself as ignant.”

    BR: sorry for the misattribution — didn’t see Invictus wrote this post.

    Still, I might be as ignant as all get out, but the economy IS weak, anemic, jobless, booby-trapped, and rife with fraud — but not really disappointing when measured against realistic expectations (other than QE and it’s making of winners out of losers, what has changed?). As you have demonstrated, the term “recovery,” without qualification, is in itself, both a matter of semantics and opinion. Precision doesn’t enter into it. Indeed, to say that we have had a recovery is, by any broad measure, imprecise (as it must completely ignore the dollar, fraudulent GAAPs, burgeoning debt, intractable unemployment, and unresolved and ubiquitous toxicity still in the system).

    There is no such thing as a precise opinion. If differing from your opinion makes one ignant, then so be it. If you say we’ve had a recovery, I guess we’ve had one.

  28. Rescission says:


    be factual and honest please. I read your link. You are a dishonest partisan.
    Read your own articles before you post them please.

    The point of the article is that his message is “jobs are better than food stamps”. In that sense he is vilifying food stamps. His entire premise is “jobs or food stamps”.
    I don’t give a rats ass about your politics, but it pisses me off when I see things taken out of context and dishonest arguments. I call Bull Shit on it. (unless Barry censors me, which he likes to do)

  29. Rescission says:

    To answer one of the initial questions:

    Yes, food stamps should only be allowed to be used on FOOD. The purpose of the program is to feed hungry people.
    I worked in grocery stores growing up. I was low income, so the groceries stores where I worked had a large portion of customers using food stamps.
    Back then, we had to check what people used food stamps for and had to police it.

    For instance, they could by cheese but not “cheese food”, because cheese food is processed shit.
    Also, if we didn’t monitor it people used their food stamps for beer and cigarettes.

    Whoever “Wally” above is, doesn’t know much about food stamps. The facts are that if you give people food stamps with no strings, they will buy beer, wine and cigarettes only.
    We literally were constantly making people take these things back and telling them they had to only buy food.

  30. destor23 says:

    Crowdsource answer: Count me for “the government has no right to attach strings.” I know it sounds weird but people who are using government assistance such as unemployment insurance and or food stamps have paid for their right to use that assistance when they were taxed in better times. The recipient doesn’t have obligations at this point. The government is meeting its obligation.

  31. jab3910 says:

    How much of this is stimulus money? Here in Chicago you can qualify for utility assistance if you make less than $35,000 a year. If you have 6 kids that figure rises to $75,000 annual income. We are providing a lot of assistance through the stimulus for people making up to 400% above poverty level.

    So is this a tragedy or a reflection of expanded government spending?

  32. Transor Z says:

    2010 fact sheet from the Greater Boston Food Bank:

    Of note: 45% of GBFB clients served are white, 32% of households served have someone working at least part-time, 14% are college graduates.

  33. Molesworth says:

    That’s a tough one. Hate to have the govt tell me what I can and can’t eat, even though they’re assisting me.
    But when California finds out it’s welfare recipients have spent $70mm of their debit cards in Las Vegas casinos, Florida resorts and on cruise ships, it makes you wonder if there shouldn’t be restrictions.

    (Apparently, they’re fixing the ‘flaw’ so those cards won’t work anymore in casinos and cruise ships, etc.)

  34. tradeking13 says:

    Here’s a good info graphic on why it doesn’t feel like a recovery even though statistically it is.

    Why it doesn’t feel like a recovery

  35. pintelho says:

    3 million new SNAP users…zeesh…that’s a pretty bad number.

  36. holulu says:

    Ression Says;

    Your emotional tirade clearly shows who is partisan. For your information I am a political atheist, I am mature enough not to devote any loyalty/trust/devotion to any political ideology/person.

    Talking about job creation does not have prerequisite of vilifing food stamp recipients.

  37. Gator81 says:

    I recall when, a few weeks ago, the announcement was made (by NBER, I think?) that the recession had, in fact, ended over a year ago. The airwaves instantly filled with all manner of shocked response and ridicule. Sometimes, the obvious is just to plain to be useful, I guess.

    A recession is like a fire, or a flood. Just because the fire is out or the floodwaters have gone down doesn’t mean everybody is all happy again. It just means they get to take a breath, assess the damage, and begin the triage. You shift from battle-stations mode to clean-up and recover mode. Talk to the folks in New Orleans. The hurricane ended and the floodwaters were pumped out years ago. Some damage will be permanent, some won’t. Some things that were useful and productive are gone forever, some can be rebuilt, and there will be some new and better things that come out of the creative destruction. Recessions do a lot of bad things, but they also wring out wretched excess and provide some fresh economic ground for creative people to launch new enterprise.

    I appreciate very much the way this blog works. Facts are presented, and thoughts are solicited regarding what the facts might mean, how multiple facts might be related, how seemingly conflicting facts might be explained. I particularly appreciate BR’s initial comment, looking for some depth to the facts presented. As a scientist, I find this sort of investigational discipline helpful and encouraging.

    Oh, and on the subject of public assistance and limits thereon… of course there should be limits, if only to keep the programs socially palatable. Making alcohol and tobacco unavailable for food stamp purchases won’t keep food stampers from getting those things any more than setting the drinking age at 21 keeps college kids out of the beer. But it’s still the right thing to do.

  38. TPCON says:

    I believe that the USDA estimates only two-thirds of those eligible for SNAP actually receive those benefits for any number of reasons – stigma attached to those who are on food stamps, states that make it difficult to register, etc. If participation was at 100%, that it is 60MM+ people or 20% of the population that needs assistance feeding their families every month. And while easy to criticize and point to the cadillac queens, children make up almost half of that number.

  39. curbyourrisk says:

    How come you can respond to us right after our comments but we can’t after yours? Come on Barry.. just because you say that the government said it ended…doesn’t mean crap. Lok around you and see for yourself. I know it might be hard to do on the North side of Long Island, but its out there…right in front of you. The government numbers are massaged and manipulated and I really can;t believe that you fall for it. I thought you were above that. Listen…I am an analyst at a MAJOR import/export company. I work for the American subidiary of on eof the top 4 Japanese import/export companies. I have lots of internally generated reports here and NOTHING is moving around the world. If it ships, generally us or one of our competitors are involved and there is nothing going on right now. Forget about commodity pricing….right now it has nothing to do with supply and demand….atleast not REAL supply and demand (the usable aspect of it). It is all about where can I put my money and watch prices go up. Yeah, we are doing that too. If it weren;t for that, we wouldn’t be doing much rightnow. Even the importing and exporting out of China has dried up. I would say…on a volume stand point we are down over 30% from last year and last year sucked. You can continue to drink the koolaid or take the red pills, nto sure what you and just about everyon here on this board are doing…but the real numberrs out there do not indicate the economy in picking up…….correcting….or even slowing the negative slide down. Would love to share the reports with you, but they are generated here and are therefor proprietary. But you name it and the commodity is being stock piled. Even the rare earth elements…something move a ton of in and out of China and Africa. oil…..yeah, we got boat loads sitting sitting in the harbors of China right now, most of it out of Venezuela. Our profit numbers are going up…mostly due to cut backs, lower payrolls and higher margins. We are rolling over most of debt, from +2% in Japan to under 1%…gotta love deflation.

  40. Invictus says:


    To be clear: It’s 3+MM more households, way more people (~7MM or so).

  41. formerlawyer says:

    I am in agreement with wally and destor23. There should be no strings attached as to what food can be bought.

    I remember in 1983 when food stamps were actual stamps, my colleagues were ranting about a family in line ahead of us being able to purchase McDonalds with food stamps in Hawaii. I was so furious with my rich, upper middle class friends for their condescending position that I went over to the other table and talked with the single mother of three – her story: it was their monthly indulgence. She didn’t eat anything but allowed her children a single Happy meal each. She refused my offer to pay for their meals. Walk a mile first.

  42. Thor says:

    Formerlawyer – Horrible isn’t it? There are many wealthy people in this country who really do believe that poor people are poor for some flaw in their character or personality. This attitude, coming from many of the same people who brought us to where we are today.

  43. dukeb says:

    One problem is that many food stamp families do not have easy access to larger grocery stores. Their neighborhood stores may be only convenience stores with limited choices, and very little healthy food.

    I’d be interested in considering community eating centers instead of food stamps in some areas. That would allow control of menus to be economical but healthy, along with controlling some fraudulent uses. Plus it could be a community center with other social uses and programs.

    Another idea: cut back on the current system of agricultural subsidies, and put money into community eating centers open to anyone regardless of income. The purchases by the eating centers would support the most economical healthy diet, supporting that segment of the agricultural industry and safeguarding a base level of national food production. No paperwork, the diet might tend to be monotonous so that would tend to hold down usage by the non-needy, and it might help with some long term health problems, along with having ecological benefits by reducing meat consumption. Of course, you would have to deal with the undocumented immigrant problem separately – easiest by dealing with the employers.

  44. Jojo says:

    Officially, you have to be pretty dammed poor to qualify for food stamps. Like not more than $2000 ($3000 if someone in the house is over 60) in assets. There are special rules for cars owned and whether they can be counted as an asset. And strangely enough, your house and lot is not counted at all! Which means that someone could have equity in a house but not have that counted as part of the $2000/$3000 max assets requirement to qualify for FS. Huh???


    I am sure there is some percentage of people who have figured out how to game the system by using multiple bank accounts or transferring liquid assets to family members. How many might be doing this is the question. 5%? 10%? 20%?

    The free medical care in the county I live in Calif. has very similar rules. I know of a couple of people who have played the hidden asset game so they could qualify for this program.

    Then there is this story:

    $69 million in California welfare money drawn out of state
    Las Vegas tops the list with $11.8 million spent at casinos or taken from ATMs, but transactions in Hawaii, Miami, Guam and elsewhere also raise questions. Officials say budget cuts hinder investigations.
    October 04, 2010|By Jack Dolan, Los Angeles Times

  45. Rescission says:


    Let’s try this one more time.
    I read the link again and then went on and read the memo it was referring to.
    I could not find anywhere in any of the articles where he vilified any food stamp recipients. Can you please reference that for me? I am seriously just trying to have an honest, fact-based argument here. Non-partisan.
    The point of the memo he wrote is clear. He is saying that his opponents prefer to provide food stamps rather than providing jobs. He is saying that food stamp recipients would rather receive a job than receive food stamps. Yes, he is a partisan politician, but in all fairness, my bull shit call on you was the fact that you took him out of context and re-phrased his message into something that simply isn’t there. I think most people who are forced to accept food stamps would probably rather have a job and be able to afford their own food. From my reading, that’s all he is saying. Again, if you can simply show me where he bashes the actually food stamp recipients I will be happy to concede and agree with you. Thanks for the lively debate.

  46. call me ahab says:


    that little story of yours kind of choked me up-

    (well- not really)

    But it did bring tears to my eyes-

    (ok I’m lying)

    but I did pick up a little puppy once that was running in traffic- of course i did call animal control (maybe they put it down)-

    oh well

  47. basquebob says:


    Anything related to Newt Gingrich and “non-partisan” in the same sentence or paragraph is an oxymoron. The context is Newt Gingrich yet you beg for context while ignoring the ultimate context. Newt Gingrich is a political animal and an exemplar of ultimate hypocrisy. Plenty of those on both sides of the aisle, but in this case we are talking about Newt Gingrich.

    “I think most people who are forced to accept food stamps” Really? “forced to accept food stamps”? Cry me a river.

  48. lalaland says:

    we already subsidize food production by the boatload; lets just make fruits and vegetables free if grown in the USA

  49. Transor Z says:

    I’d be interested in considering community eating centers instead of food stamps in some areas.

    Moo. “Citizen 24601, our records indicate that you require green legumes today. You are required to eat your peas. Kindly comply or we will be forced to contact Nutrition Enforcement.”

    @formerlawyer: Yeah, elites always engage in self-justification. The concepts of birth lottery and mortality are completely terrifying for narcissists and can even provoke psychotic decompensation. It’s too much like saying they’re not god.

  50. formerlawyer says:

    To call me ahab Says:

    Ahab, this is a crowdsourcing enquiry. I gave my answer. Give yours or STFU.

  51. call me ahab says:

    Ahab, this is a crowdsourcing enquiry. I gave my answer. Give yours or STFU.

    what I really want is another sophomoric anecdote-

    I’m sure you have plenty

    (and what? you didn’t like my puppy story?)

  52. Jojo says:

    But IS it a “pocket veto” or not?

    If it is a pocket veto, then this looks like just another Obama subterfuge that will give the bankers what they want, as pocket vetos can become law if Congress remains in session for 10 days, which according to comment #5 here (, they will be doing over the election!

    Is this yet another Obama snookering of the people? Or not?

  53. Rescission says:


    Yes, many are embarrassingly forced to accept food stamps so they can feed their families. They don’t want to but given their dire situations, they take the handout, even though they would rather not. When I say “forced” I mean because of their dire economic situation.

    Your personal attacks without any facts weakens your comment. I said Newt was a partisan politician. Fact.
    Does that mean that its okay to twist what people say into something they didn’t say? We make progress when we stick to facts and stay away from personal attacks.

  54. forwhomthebelltolls says:

    I’m not as well-versed in the topic as some of you obviously are and I do think that there is some merit to the theory that a change in eligibility has caused a spike in many areas.

    However, I think there is also a less tangible “lack-of -stigma factor”, by comparison to what there used to be. I go to the gym every day for lunch and grab some fruit from the market in the same strip mall afterwards. It’s in a pretty destitute area (the cheap gyms always are) and I’m always amazed at how 7 of 10 payers are utilizing an EBT card. They’re not shy about it at all and seem to have no reservations in conversing about their benefits with the cashier. I’m not passing judgement on this one way or the other. But I can remember in ’80 and ’81 sitting in the dark (electric shut off) and eating veggies “borrowed” from a farm down the road. We cooked over a wood stove and ate by candelight. This was all because my mother absolutely would not dream of asking for food stamps. We were always lower middle class but when we really slipped to “lower class” she still wouldn’t lower herself to ask for assistance. Those were “other” people who asked for handouts.

    I realize this is one tiny corner of the world and one man’s experience, but it seems to me that there is much greater willingness today and that most, if not all, stigma has been removed from process of acccepting government assistance.

  55. Andy T says:

    Marcus Says:
    October 7th, 2010 at 7:29 am
    The underlying story says that 41.8 million Americans received food stamps in July. If 15% of the U.S. population is receiving food stamps and supposedly that 15% is feeding others, children and elder citizens with that food, it means that at least 1/5 of the American population is receiving public assistance just to eat. If this is real, it is a tragedy of epic proportions….

    Disagree. Right now the situation is only sad. It would be a “tragedy of epic proportions” if they weren’t being fed at all.

  56. zola says:

    I can’t help but think that the food stamp program masks just how bad the problem is.

    Imagine that 1 in 8 people were standing on a bread line rather than quietly swiping their EBT cards…

  57. John Purcell says:

    Re not allowing EBT purchases of sugary soda – having been an American in Canada, I had respect for Pigouvian taxation of behaviors (smoking, drinking, waste disposal, etc) that drove up costs on government provided/subsidized benefits (health care, infrastructure).

    While deciding what is acceptable/unacceptable can be difficult and rife with subjectivity, I hope for a day when we have a somewhat objective/rational forum for coming to a democratic consensus while maintaining individual incentives.

    Expected utility rarely takes negative externalities into account.

    And I assume the vast majority of people swiping their EBT cards are doing it quietly and appreciatively while struggling to figure out the next steps to economic independence – I don’t mind helping them out for the time being.

  58. curbyourrisk says:

    No repsonse from Barry….hmmmm….

  59. CaptnKrunch says:

    Thor says “Horrible isn’t it? There are many wealthy people in this country who really do believe that poor people are poor for some flaw in their character or personality. This attitude, coming from many of the same people who brought us to where we are today.”

    Hmmm. Ok, so why are poor people poor? Alternatively, why aren’t more people in this country rich? By “character or personality” do you include perseverance, diligence, optimism, propensity for hard work, respect for education, willingness to sacrifice, or intelligence?

  60. formerlawyer says:

    For some selective readings on this, see:

    Official Poverty rate in 2008 – the highest since 1997 at 13%

    A dated (2001) but illuminating NPR article:

  61. [...] I posted recently on the explosive growth in the use of food stamps, now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). BR asked some very relevant questions, and commenter Kort provided some interesting linkage that gave a history of the program, including various changes made along the way (which helped explain the recent surge). That post generated a fair amount of commentary. [...]