Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Food Stamps As Democratic Bribes To Buy Votes. A Re-Posting.

(Originally from last February.  Not much has changed about the situation, though of course Scott Walker,  the governor of Wisconsin, wants to test food stamp recipients for illegal drug use.  This article explains why it's nuts.  But note that  if Democrats are supposed to use food stamps as bribes to buy votes, then at least some Republicans use food stamps to buy votes, too:  Those votes which want to punish the poor for getting government subsidies.  As the linked article notes, if getting government subsidies is the logical reason for drug tests, then we should test all mortgage applicants who plan to deduct their mortgage interest payments from their taxable income, because those deductions mean that other taxpayers are subsidizing the mortgage holders by having to pay more taxes.)

Fox News' Stuart Varney explains how the president buys votes with food stamps

You should watch the video at the link (I couldn't get it to embed).

In it Varney explains how the US cannot afford food stamps or any things from a long list of government "handouts" (which, by the way, includes health care for the poor and social security payments for the elderly). Then he explains that these "handouts" are paid by the tax payers, thus suggesting that those getting them never were or are taxpayers themselves.  Think about that division of people into two groups.  One gets all the undeserved benefits, one pays for all of them.  That the retired, for example, paid towards social security all their working lives is irrelevant.

And "we" cannot afford all these handouts!  "We" must take out loans to pay for them.  For Varney that "we" does not include the people on the "handouts."

I liked listening to Varney, because he is so good at triggering the anger and fear of the conservatives.  Someone is getting something for nothing and I am not! 

The logic is also fun to watch.  First Varney argues that the recession is over so why aren't people coming off food stamps (and "we" cannot afford those food stamps as "we" don't have the money but in fact we (as the government) should have the money if the recession is over).  But then he argues that two-thirds of Americans don't think the recession is over!

Gotcha, he mutters.  But of course there's the possibility that this recovery from the recession is another one of those weird ones where all the gains go for a small group of people on the top of the income distribution.  Varney tries to stuff to contradictory arguments down our throats:  Either there's no need for so many food stamp recipients anymore or there is, but Obama is to blame in both cases.

If you step a little back from these thoughts you could well ask why "we" cannot afford social security or Medicaid or food stamps but can afford a military system three or four times as expensive as the next largest military force on this earth.

Or you could ask why the government can afford to give "handouts" to corporations but not to individuals.

But then you would get depressed.

Instead, let's ask if giving a lot of food stamps indeed makes people vote for Democrats.  That's a silly sentence.  To answer that we would need to control for the incomes of the potential voters and what the two parties actually propose to do for the affluent and the less affluent and so on.

Still, it's unlikely that food stamps work as money to be paid for Democratic votes.  That's because a) the highest percentages of people on food stamps tend to be found in Republican-voting states and b) because the poor are much less likely to vote than the more affluent.