According to the USDA, a record 46.7 million Americans were participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in June, otherwise known as food stamps, and the annual cost has more than doubled in the past four years.
Republicans, especially the Mitt Romney campaign, have pounced on the statistic, using it as proof that America is worse off under President Obama. Newt Gingrich has gone as far as to call Obama the “food stamp president.”
But is it true?
Tad DeHaven at the Cato Institute argues that blame for the program’s explosion falls on both sides of the aisle, thanks to a 2002 farm bill (passed under a Republican-controlled House and George W. Bush as President) that greatly expanded benefits.
The Huffington Post defends Obama by putting things in a glass-half-full light, citing food stamp use numbers over the last four years. According to the USDA, food stamp usage jumped 23% jump during the President’s first year in office, but only grew three percent in the past 12 months.
As DeHaven puts it, “The Obama administration certainly deserves to be heavily criticized for the growth in government dependency, but it’s hard to view [Republican’s] sudden discovery of religion as anything more than standard politics.”